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Journal Entries for 2016-05 Dana & Marcia Part 2 of 5

Part 1: We spent two weeks (May 11th to May 25th) in Ft. Myers Beach, Florida.
Part 2: We flew to Atlanta and drove to Dana's in Brasstown, NC (May 26th to May 30th) and then went to Devil's Fork State Park (May 31st to June 2nd) (see Family Albums/2016-05 Dana & Marcia).
Part 3: We stayed at Devil's Fork State Park (June 3rd to June 5th) and spent time with Don, Ginny, Michael, Laicie & Tillman (see Family Albums/2016-06 Don, Michael & Tillman).
Part 4: We flew from Greenville, SC to Miami (June 6th to June 11th) and drove to Key Largo (see Adventures in the USA/2016-06 Key Largo).
Part 5: We met up with Mary Jean and the NatGeo group (June 11th to June 21st) and went to Cuba (see Adventures in Foreign Countries/2016-06 Cuba).

Summary: We went to the Gold Museum in Dahlonega, Georgia.

Wednesday, May 25th: Our plane finally left Ft. Myers at 2:45pm, 2-1/2 hours late on Part 1 of our trip. We landed in Atlanta at 4:30pm, got our rental car and drove to our hotel at the start of Part 2 of our trip. We were tired and hungry. We dropped our luggage in our room and took a shuttle to Malone's for a great dinner. We took the shuttle back to the hotel and got unpacked enough for just one night. We were actually able to use our Roku stick for the first time!! The Internet and the TV worked great. Hanging out at the airport wasn't much fun, but things could have been a lot worse. Our Plan B was to drive from Atlanta to Dana's, instead of Greenville to Dana's.

Thursday, May 26th: We had coffee in the room and then went down to the lobby for our breakfast, which was included. After breakfast, we packed everything up and headed towards Dana's.

We took a different route than originally planned because we were driving from Atlanta, Ga instead of Greenville, SC to Brasstown, NC. We decided to drive through Dahlonega, Ga and stop at the Gold Museum ($6.50/ea). The museum is located in the old Lumpkin county courthouse, circa 1836. The guide started a film for us about the gold rush in Dahlonega, which started in 1829 in present-day Lumpkin County near the county seat, Dahlonega, and soon spread through the North Georgia mountains, following the Georgia Gold Belt. At first the miners were able to use placer mining techniques. When it was discovered it was completely by accident - when a deer hunter, Benjamin Parks, tripped over a rock 2.5 miles south of what is now Dahlonega. He got to looking at it and it was full of gold. Within one year's time some 15,000 miners heard about that and rushed to find some gold for themselves. At that time there was so much gold in and around Dahlonega that it laid on top of the ground, washing off the mountainsides for centuries. The first miners were the lucky ones, being able to pick the gold up by hand. But pretty soon all the easy gold was gone so the miners went to the streams and rivers in search of more easy gold. But all they had at the time was the gold pan. At first the gold pan worked pretty good, but after awhile it became nearly impossible to make any money with it. The gold pan then became a way of testing first to see what was there. To make any money at it a sluice box was developed to go through more material in less time. Sometimes rockers were built onto the bottom making it a rocker box but basically the same principal - let gravity do the work. A sluice box was nothing more than a long trough with a riffle system down the middle, similar to a ladder laid down. As the material washed down the middle the heavier gold and black sand (iron oxide) would settle to the bottom forming a concentrate while the lighter material washed out the lower end. The concentrate would then be panned for the gold.

With 15,000 men digging up the stream and riverbeds the easy gold was gone quick, so they had to search elsewhere for more easy gold. That's when they started to use hydraulic mining techniques. In 1845 Nathan Hand got the idea that there had to be a better way and he found one. Using a series of pipes and ditches, gravity flow water pressure could be used to wash away mountains and get more material to feed into the sluices. The main hydraulic system involved a pipe and ditch system that spanned 26 miles! Shooting all that water through a 5-6 inch nozzle (a water cannon or hydraulic giant) it was shot up at the mountainside to create a mud-slide bringing the gold-bearing material washing down directly into the sluice boxes lined up at the bottom. A series of reservoirs were also built. When one reservoir was used up it was time to clean the sluices while the water was building back up.

The Georgia Gold Rush was the second significant gold rush in the United States, and overshadowed the previous rush in North Carolina. By the early 1840s, gold became difficult to find. Many Georgia miners moved west when gold was found in the Sierra Nevada in 1848, starting the California Gold Rush. The seats for the theater are from the old military school, as indicate by the wire bracket under the seats for their hats.

Then we walked around the small museum. The guide was really informative and told us stories about the courthouse. One story was about how they were going to tear the courthouse down to make a parking lot for the new courthouse. Fortunately, it was bought for a small amount by an individual and turned into this museum.

The guide told us that there is actually gold in the brick walls of the courthouse, although there is only approximately $3.00 worth. He used his flashlight to show us the small (really small) glints of gold in the brick in an old stairwell. The Dahlonega gold is much purer than the gold later found in California or Alaska.

009-Dahlonega Gold Museum, Ga.JPG

011-Georgia gold belt, Dahlonega Gold Museum, Ga.JPG

012-Military seats, Dahlonega Gold Museum, Ga.JPG

013-Sluice box & hydraulic cannon, Dahlonega Gold Museum, Ga.JPG

014-Judge's office, Dahlonega Gold Museum, Ga.JPG

016-Gold in bricks, Dahlonega Gold Museum, Ga.JPG

018-Carl & gold press, Dahlonega Gold Museum, Ga.JPG
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