Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/178

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By Professor R. A. F. PENROSE, Jr.


Period from 1800-1848

GOLD was known by the Indians to exist in the United States long before the white people discovered it, but unlike the Indians of Mexico, the more northern natives did not make elaborate use of it, and it did not seriously attract the attention of the settlers until shortly before the beginning of the nineteenth century. No very important mining, however, was done until after 1800, when a little gold began to be obtained in North Carolina. Long before that time the gold of California had also been known to the natives and to the Franciscan monks, but that country then belonged to Mexico and was not taken by the United States until 1846.

The first important gold mining, therefore, in the United States was in North Carolina, when shortly after 1800 the auriferous gravels of Cabarrus and Montgomery counties were worked in a small way. From that time until 1827 small quantities of gold were produced in these and other parts of North Carolina, though not enough to cause much excitement; but the discoveries then spread into the adjoining states, and in the next two or three years South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia began to produce important quantities of gold, while Alabama and Tennessee also soon began to supply a small amount. In the meantime gold-bearing veins had been discovered in addition to the gravels, and from the two sources the production of gold grew considerably. A great excitement followed and many thousands of people rushed to the gold diggings.

Later discoveries extended the area in which gold was found until it had been traced from Alabama northeastward to the Canadian border, but very little was discovered beyond Virginia. The gold deposits characterize certain geologic horizons which flank the east slope of the Appalachian Mountains, and the most productive part of this belt has so far proved to be in western North Carolina, the adjoining part of South Carolina and northern Georgia, while Virginia and Alabama have been smaller producers and Tennessee has supplied a little. In the states north of Virginia small quantities of gold have occasionally been found, but not enough to be of much commercial importance,[1]

  1. Exception to this must be made where small quantities of gold are produced as a by-product from copper ores in Tennessee, Maryland and New Hampshire, and from iron ores at Lebanon, Pennsylvania.