Reed Gold Mine Contains a Large Nugget of The Queen City’s History
Reed Gold Mine is an important historic landmark located in Midland, Cabarrus County, North Carolina, just over 20 minutes outside of Charlotte, NC. It is known to be the site of the first documented gold find in the United States and is considered one of North Carolina’s greatest historical assets. In fact, North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1948. Gold mining was second only to farming in the number of North Carolina residents it employed during its peak years.
Reed Gold Mine was founded by John Reed in 1803, several years after his son, Conrad, found a large yellow rock in Little Meadow Creek on the Reed farm in Cabarrus County. That rock was used as a doorstep at the Reed house for three years, and later was found out to be a gold nugget worth a lot of money, though Reed sold it to a jeweler for only $3.50, one tenth of one percent of its true value. Shortly thereafter, Reed formed a partnership with 3 local men and began the Reed mining operation. By 1824, the miners had recovered an estimated yield of one hundred thousand dollars.
The success of Reed spread to other Piedmont farmers as they began exploring their creeks and finding gold. Creek mining led to underground mining when miners learned in 1825 that gold also existed in the veins of white quartz rock. Because underground mining required more labor, money and machinery, it did not begin at Reed until 1831. John Reed died in 1845, a wealthy man, and the mine was sold at public auction, changing owners many times until 1912. The last large nugget was found there in 1896, the total yield of the mine, in large nuggets alone, exceeding one hundred pounds.
Today, portions of the underground tunnels at the Reed mine have been restored for guided tours. Reed Gold mine is a great place for Charlotte, NC tourists to visit when they vacation here. Schoolteachers have been known to schedule field trips at Reed, so their students can engage in hands-on exploration of North Carolina’s history as a leading producer of the nation’s gold. There is a visitor center, containing exhibits of gold and historical mining equipment, along with an orientation film that highlights the first gold discovery. The mine also offers a picnic area and tours of a restored ore-crushing stamp mill. Travelers should not make a trip to the Queen City without visiting Reed Gold Mine.