GOLD IN ALABAMA

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Men Panning Gold Created / Published [between ca. 1900 and 1927]

Men Panning Gold Created / Published [between ca. 1900 and 1927]

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Gold In Alabama

Tobacco label showing seven gold miners working around three sluice ways, washing auriferous earth. Created / Published c1867.

The first major gold strike in Alabama occurred in 1830 at Blue Creek (Ripatoe Placer), a creek on Lake Mitchell near Clanton, Alabama, and Chestnut Creek, and significant gold discoveries continued throughout the coming years. Gold has been found throughout Talladega, Tallapoosa, Chambers, Coosa, Clay, Chilton, Elmore, Cleburne, and Randolph Counties.Gold is still being found in Alabama, mostly in the form of lode gold mining, also called hard rock mining and placer gold found in soils and gravel.

Placer mining can be done by a lone prospector filling a pan with crushed ore or scooped sediment and washing away all but the fragments of placer gold. Lode mining requires a number of workers to remove ore, crush the ore and extract the gold from the ore.

Gold Locations In Alabama

Gold is found primarily in the gold belt of Alabama which covers an area 60 miles wide and 100 miles long. Alabama Gold has been mined from both placer and lode sources. The gold belt enters and trends the northeastern part of the state coming from the border with Georgia towards an area in central Alabama, known as the Piedmont Uplift, fairly extensive and is approximately 100 miles long by 50-60 miles wide.

But the foremost strike of gold occurred in 1830 along the tributaries of Blue and Chestnut Creeks in Chilton County. This discovery made Alabama one of the prolific gold-producing states east of the Mississippi River, with almost 80,000 ounces of gold from 1830 to 1990.

Public Gold Mining In Alabama

A zone of lode and placer gold deposits extends in the Piedmont region from Alabama to Maryland.  Alabama has many former gold mines and current prospecting sites. Alabama was one of the primary sources of US gold before the California gold discovery. Many of the richest mining areas are located on private ground, but the National Forest lands do provide opportunities for the public.

Recreational gold panning in Alabama is open to everyone, as long as you abide by the Laws of Gold Panning in Alabama. Major and heavy mining equipment are not allowed to use for panning. This means that you require a permit from the Forest Rangers in order to carry out commercial gold panning. If you don’t have a permit, you can only conduct gold panning and prospecting using light-weight tools, like a pan and your hands only.

Alabama’s State-owned parks are open and free to everyone seeking to conduct a gold panning exercise. This is because they are viewed as public thus both natives and tourists to the state can carry out gold panning freely. However, in order to conduct a commercial gold panning activity you need to be in possession of a gold prospecting and exploration permit which are readily available at Park Ranger Offices

Alabama Gold Belt

Most gold found in Alabama comes from what is known as the gold belt, an area of 60 miles wide and 100 miles long in the northeast part of the state. The gold belt region covers about 3,500 square miles and comprises Chilton, Clay, Cleburn, Coosa, Elmore, Randolph, Talladega and Tallapoosa counties.

Largest Gold Nugget Found In Alabama

The Blue Creek area is where the largest placer gold nugget in the state was recovered. The area is now underwater but the creeks feeding into the Blue Creek portion of the Coosa River contain gold.

In the Verbena, Alabama area, all the streams and creeks surrounding the corners of Chilton, Coosa and Elmore Counties contain placer gold.  The gold gravels extend about 1 mile in a valley and not more than 200 yards wide. Fine gold and nuggets are reported. On Rocky Creek, there are also some rich placer workings, but it has been worked and reworked often. Large nuggets have been recovered from these sites.

Alabama Mines and Mining

The mineral region, par eccellence, of Alabama, embracing fully one-third of the territorial area of the state, is so called on account of the variety and abundance of the leading minerals of commerce to be found therein, and the fact that nearly all, if not all, the mines which are now worked, by common consent, constitute the mineral belt. But this area, rich and prolific as it is, does not monopolize all the mineral wealth of Alabama. In several of the counties of the Tennessee valley, in portions of the “cotton belt,” and also in the far south, called the “timber belt,” minerals have been found in more or less profusion. Lauderdale county contains iron; iron, coal and lead and silver have been found in Limestone county; coal and iron in Jackson; coal, manganese, copper, lead and silver in Marshall; coal in Morgan (also asphalt, the first trace discovered in Alabama ; coal in Lawrence; traces of iron, coal and lead in Pickens; traces of iron and mineral springs and wells in Sumter; traces of petroleum and mineral springs in Choctaw; kaolin and other minerals in Perry and Barbour counties; traces of iron in Washington; mineral and salt wells, and gypsum in Clarke; traces of iron and very strong mineral springs near Greenville and in the northern part of Butler; and iron ore has been found in considerable quantities in the northern part of the county of Mobile.

The first attempt to manufacture iron, in Alabama, was made in Franklin county in the year 1818, but, as Dr. Riley informs us, after an experience of nine years, the enterprise was abandoned. Gold and silver have been mined to a limited extent. Dr. Phillips, in bulletin No. 3 of the state geological survey (1892), expresses the opinion that gold was first discovered in Alabama about the year 1830, and states that, shortly afterward, the placers and gravel washes became the seats of an active industry in the counties of Cleburne, Talladega, Randolph, Tallaposa, Coosa, Chilton, and perhaps, also of Clay. No record of these operations has been preserved; all that is now known is that large numbers of men were engaged in the work and that in some places, at least, it was found profitable. Mr. Phillips, from a personal examination of this gold-bearing region, has come to the conclusion that gold mining could be carried on very successfully, if the enterprise was judiciously undertaken and prudently and diligently prosecuted. To the geological survey of the state belongs the credit and honor of revealing the untold riches which lie beneath the soil of Alabama; of testing the quality and approximating the value of its mineral treasures; suggesting methods through which they can be most profitably worked, and furnishing the accurate information which has led to their marvelous developement and made the mineral wealth of Alabama a household word in the marts of commerce and in the monetary centers of the United States and Europe. The first systematic geological exploration of the state was inaugurated by Professor Michael Toumey, of the university of Alabama, on the 13th of July, 1848. Individual papers upon the geology of the state had previously been made and were published in Silliman’s Journal, by Conrad, Lea, Shepherd, Martin and others, and in 1838, Professor R. T. Brumley, of the state university, published a short sketch of the geology of the state. In 1846, that eminent geologist, Sir Charles Lyell, visited Alabama and made a brief investigation of the geological features of the state, and the results of his explorations were given to the public in the journal of the “Geological Society of England,” and in “Lyell’s Second Visit to the United States.” In January, 1848, Professor Toumey was appointed state geologist and entered actively upon the work of exploration. A report of his work during the succeeding two years, entitled, “First Biennial Report of the Geology of Alabama,” was printed in Tuscaloosa in 1850 and attracted wide attention. He continued work on the state geological survey until the autumn of 1856, when he resumed the duties of his professorship at the university of Alabama. He was taken ill in February, 1857, went to Mobile for treatment, and died there, March 3, 1857—honored and lamented by the people of Alabama, for whom he had done so much, and by scholars and Scientists throughout the country. He laid the foundation for the wonderful development. of the mineral resources of Alabama which, under the diligent explorations and eminently practical counsels of Dr. Eugene A. Smith, the present head of the geological survey, and his coadjutors, has elevated her to the very front rank among mineral producing states. In the further discussion of “Mines and Mining” in Alabama, it is proposed to con sider principally the great leading industries of iron and coal; first, however, glancing briefly at the discoveries and developments made in gold, silver, copper, lead and tin.

Alabama Precious Metals

Source: Memorial Record of Alabama: A Concise Account of the State’s …, Volume 1

As has been already stated, gold was probably discovered in Alabama about the year 1830, for soon after that date considerable quantities of the precious metals were secured in half a dozen counties of north Alabama. Professor Toumey’s report, published in 1858, has allusions to the gold deposits, but until recently no thorough explorations of the gold fields have been made or even attempted. Under the enlarged powers given to the survey by the general assembly of 1888–90, Dr. Smith determined to make a thorough examination of the metamorphic region of north and east Alabama, having an area of 4,426 square miles. This work was specially intrusted to Dr. W. B. Phillips, and he seems to have entered . upon it with enthusiasm and prosecuted it with intelligence, zeal and ability. His “Preliminary Report,” detailing his explorations in the counties of Chilton, Coosa and Tallapoosa, has been printed, and an early copy furnished the writer through the courtesy of the state geologist, Dr. Eugene A. Smith. This document and the earlier reports of Dr. Smith furnish much of the information contained in this department of the industries of Alabama.

For convenience of reference, Dr. Phillips divides the gold fields into an upper and lower field, separating them by a line running due east and west along the northern boundary of Chilton, Coosa, Tallapoosa and Chambers counties. That part of the field south of this line, he calls the “Lower Alabama Gold Belt,” which contains about 1,700 square miles. The “Upper Gold Belt” comprises the counties of Cleburne, Clay, Randolph and a part of Talladega, containing about 1,800 square miles. The productive portion of this field is comprised in an area which Dr. Phillips describes as an equilateral triangle, the sides being about ninety miles in extent, the term “productive” being used to indicate that gold mining has at some time been carried on successfully within the described area. The gold bearing rocks of Alabama are believed to be coeval with the gold-bearing rocks of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Near Honeycutt’s mill in Chilton county, along Mulberry creek, placer mining has been carried on, in a small way, says Dr. Phillips, for the last fifty years. The mining commenced about ten miles below the mill, and extended about eight miles up the creek. Dr. Phillips, himself, out of thirty pans which he took out along the little branches leading into the creek, found gold in twenty-five of them. The thickness of the gold stratum he estimates at from one to two feet. Although gold is found in nearly all the branches running into Mulberry creek, in the vicinity of Honeycutt’s mill, Dr. Phillips does not consider that it occurs in sufficient quantities to justify further investigation. Several years ago some prospecting for gold was made near Verbena, on the

Louisville & Nashville railroad. Although traces of gold were found, they were not sufficient to encourage an attempt at working them. A sample of quartz taken from a vein eight inches thick, near the gate at William Howard’s residence, gave $6.20 in gold. On Rocky creek, two miles east of Verbena, extensive washings for gold have been carried on in the gravel which underlies the soil at depths varying from three to six feet, and extends on both sides of the creek about 100 yards. Mr. William Howard states that in about ten weeks he personally realized $200 in gold from the washings along Rocky creek, securing one day as much as $19. His only implements were the pick and pan. Another gold seeker, less fortunate, worked there two months and secured only $60. This was about twenty years ago. Most of the work was done before 1860, when much interest was taken in gold mines. Dr. Phillips does not think that Rocky creek will now afford pay gravel of sufficient quantity and richness to pay for renewing work in it—the best of the gold having already been removed. ; The “Rippatoe Mine,” situated in section 17, township 21, range 16 east, Chilton county, was famous in the early days of gold mining in Alabama. Work on it was commenced as early as 1835, and continued with little interruption until 1860. For a mile up Blue creek, from James Mims’, on both sides there are great numbers of old pits, trenches and ditches, but these were so fallen in that Dr. Phillips had to sink two new pits to enable him to examine the gravel. A vertical section to the gravel of the Rippatoe mine shows soil and sandy clay two feet; soft reddish, inclining to bluish green, three feet; stiff bluish clay three feet—gold gravel, one foot—the latter being found eight feet below the surface. The depth varies from six to nine feet, the vein becoming thinner and at a greater depth, as the adjacent hills are approached. Much of the gold obtained was found in the run of the creek caught against upturned edges of slate. Several pieces of gold, worth from $1 to $5, were taken out. One piece, valued at $20, another, at $70, were also found here. No reliable estimate can be made of the amount of gold taken from this mine, but, judging from the character and extent of the old workings, it must have yielded a large return for the labor of the different gangs of men from time to time engaged in working the gravel. When the California gold fever broke out, most of these miners started forthwith for that land of promise, and there has been little, if any, gold washing in this vicinity since 1855. The average width of the valley, along which the gold bearing gravel is found, is less than 200 yards, and its length is about three-quarters of a mile. On the land of James Mims, in section 16 of the same township, the same kind of gravel is found; has been worked over, and a considerable quantity of gold was obtained from it prior to 1860, but little has been accomplished since that date. At a place called “Alum Bluff,” in Coosa county, there appears a heavy seam of bluish crystalline quartz, carrying decomposed pyrite. A sample on analysis 

gave gold 0.60 ounce per ton, with a trace of silver, showing the quartz was worth $15.40 per ton. A sample from the walling next the quartz gave in gold 0.35 ounce and silver 0.10 ounce, and was therefore worth $7.33 per ton.” Dr. Phillips considers this a “true vein” and worthy of thorough examination. He thinks it could be easily mined. At a place in sections 1 and 2, township 21, range 16 east, in Coosa county, called “Gold Ridge, “prospecting for copper and gold was made in 1885 and for graphite and gold in 1872 and 1873. A sample secured by Dr. Phillips in 1891 was assayed and found to contain, gold 0.15 ounce and silver 0.25 ounce, making the value $3.35 per ton—not rich enough to pay the cost of working. Four samples were taken from Flint Hill in section 17, same township, Coosa county, only one of which showed more than a trace of gold, and this sample was worth $4.13 per ton. Tradition affirms the existence of a silver mine in this locality which was worked by the Indians, but was so well concealed by them that, although diligent search has been made, no one has yet been able to find it. According to this tradition the mine is of exceeding richness and furnished the Indians with an abundance of silver. Before leaving the country, it is affirmed that the “redskins” sealed up the entrance to the mine with heavy rocks and obliterated all traces of the approach to it. Dr. Phillips does not credit this tradition, as he failed to discover any traces of the existence of such a mine. Professor Toumey’s report of 1858 gives an account of the Stewart gold mine, located in Coosa county, in section 4, township 23, range 17. The auriferous portion of the ridge, he says, “is about 200 feet wide and was at first worked in open cut, but the ridge is perforated with shafts, at intervals, for a distance of half a mile.” This mine was long since abandoned. Near Rockford he found an auriferous deposit of gravel and clay, a portion of which was once worked. Professor Toumey quotes Mr. Lieber’s description of the old mine in section 4, township 23, range 27 east, which produced well at one time, having an “engine mounted on the spot,” but, for lack of skill and good management, failed of success. Of the auriferous gravel deposits of Alabama, Mr. Lieber said “they present some very peculiar and interesting features.” “Gold is found,” he says, “in greater or less quantity, in almost all the gravels and sands of the creeks and branches of the metamorphic region, extending as far south as the Tallapoosa, twenty miles east of Wetumpka, where traces of gold exist. The deposits on the Weogufka and Hatchet creeks, in Coosa. county, demand, perhaps, the greatest atention.” “The ‘ packed gravel,’ as it is locally termed, immediately underlies the soil and debris of the surrounding rock, and is usually about a foot or eighteen inches in depth. The quartz of the gravel is throughout of an orange color, of a kind I have not seen in any other auriferous region. It belongs to the compact granular quartz commonly called ‘Sugar quartz,” and is probably identical with that which, in Australia, has received improperly the name of ‘cairngorn.’ * * * The quartz, when broken, resembles lumps of good brown sugar. The color is pale lemon within and orange without. Occasionally pieces are seen which pass from a blood red to a deep claret color, and on the fresh break exhibit correspondingly redder tints than the other.” The largest quartz bowlder found in the gravel deposits of the Weogufka contained about four cubic feet. “The gravel,” Mr. Lieber says, “pans from four to twenty particles of savable gold of a fine color,” and he has no doubt that if suitable locations were selected and proper contrivances chosen for extracting the gold, very profitable operations would be the result. The Hatchet creek includes what was called the “Miller” gold mine, in section 1, township 24, range 20 east, and another close to it in section 11, same township and range. The former mine usually paid $1.75 per hand, the latter only $1.00 per hand. The Miller mine was last worked in 1847 by T. Phillips, of Nixburg, with a force of six to eight hands. In the summer of 1843 as many as fifty hands were regularly worked here. The gold was of a very superior quality, and if properly managed, this mine, it is thought, might yet be made very productive. In the summer of 1854, a man worked in it by himself without any conveniences and made, while at work, $1 per day in gold, but ill health compelled him to stop work. The whole valley seems to be auriferous, for we are told that many pits were sunk in various places and gold was found in all but one of them. Near the town of Rockford, Coosa county, Dr. Phillips found an old pit, sunk forty or more years ago for gold, and worked several years ago by Mr. Lewis Parsons, but without much success. The assay of a sample from the “old dump” showed a value of $12.40 per ton. On the land of Mr. E. M. Thomas, in section 11, township 22, range 19, is a ledge of graphitic schist, some of which, he says, he worked and smelted in a blacksmith’s forge, and obtained from the rock 35 cents worth of silver. An assay from a sample taken by Dr. Phillips, however, showed a mere trace of gold and no silver. Tallapoosa and Cleburne counties were famous “among placer mines and quartz creeks fifty years ago,” and “yielded a large part of the gold credited to the southern states between 1830 and 1850.” It is stated that the town of Arbacoo, chee, in Cleburne county, which now has only about 300 inhabitants, had, in the times of the gold excitement, a population of 5,000. What was called the “Goldville” belt extended from Hillabee bridge, six miles east of Alexander city, to and beyond Goldville, a distance of fourteen miles. The entire distance presents a view of trenches, pits and shafts, indicating an active industry in the way of gold mining. Among the pits formerly worked, as given by Dr. Phillips, were the Ulrich, Croft, Mahan, Stone, Ealy, Log, Houston, Goldville, Germany, Jones and Birdsong. Of these the Ulrich pits were southwesterly and the Birdsong northeasterly. According to Professor Toumey, the Goldville mine was discovered in 1842, and was worked with much success. The gold was worth 90 cents to the pennyweight. About $30,000 in gold was extracted from this pit, and, in addition, about $80,000 in silver. The want of sound and systematic business methods caused the failure of operations at this valuable mine, but Mr. Lieber reports that it was subsequently reopened. He says further that “a vein has been discovered which, from its curious contortion, is called the snake vein.” On the south side of the shaft he says it was poor, but on the northern side the average yield was $1 per bushel. Besides gold, magnetic iron sand, native sulphur, garnets and mica are found in the vicinity. The Ulrich pits were opened, says Dr. Phillips, by a German named Ulrich some forty years ago. He opened the gold pit and crushed, in a rude way, a good deal of ore, and is reputed to have made considerable money. He seems to have struck the ore while excavating a wine cellar for his vineyard. While a good deal of ore has been taken from the pit. Dr. Phillips thinks that the main body has hardly been touched, and that a large amount of free milling quartz still remains within 1,000 feet of the creek. Samples received by him from several old dumps, gave, by fire assay, from $2.06 to $8.46 per ton. Over a distance of twelve miles the quartz seams are reputed “bold and strong, preserving the same general characteristics and showing a remarkable continuity of walling, strike and dip.” Referring to the operations in Tallapoosa county (and the same remarks apply to the entire gold district), Dr. Phillips says: No organized capital was employed and there were no mills worthy of the name. But little was known of the art of mining, and still less of the art of milling, the most important consideration in the successful management of gold ores, and there must have been a large loss of gold. Yet the work went on for years—some of it costly work. The only explosive they had was black powder; all the drilling was done by hand, and a great deal of the crushing also. But they kept at it, and the engineer who examines the district to-day, can see for himself that an astonishing amount of ore was raised and treated. * * * * At Goldville itself, between 1840 and 1850, there are said to have been fourteen large stores, with a contributory population of at least 3,000 souls. Now one looks in vain for the tenth part of this population, and the stores have been converted into dwellings and barns. It must, however, be distinctly stated that the mining operations conducted forty or fifty years ago along this belt merely scratched the great deposits of free milling quartz that characterize it.

At the Jones pits, in section 5, township 24, range 23, Dr. Phillips discovered undecomposed sulphuret of iron, with arsenopyrite at the bottom of a shaft sixty feet deep, held in a hard bluish quartz, showing also free gold. A sample, without the free gold, showed, by fire assay, gold 27-10 ounce, silver, 1-10 ounce per ton, having a value per ton of $55.90. In the upper portion of the quartz seams of the Goldville belt, we are told, all the gold is now free and can be readily taken up by quicksilver. The “old time miners,” not knowing how to treat “undecomposed sulphuret,” mined only the upper portions of the seams, from which the coveted gold could be obtained with comparative ease. The seams in this district are known to extend continuously for at least fifteen miles and “probably extend thirty miles.”

Dr. Phillips thinks that the old miners, when they “moved on,” left “an incalculable amount of free milling ore,” but even should this not be the case, he says, “we now possess means for the economical treatment of the undecomposed sulphuret which, for ease, rapidity and thoroughness, leave but little to be desired.” The “sulphurets,” he says, “no longer vex us.” By the “Theis process” (the chlorination of gold ores) they can be treated for their gold contents cheaply and successfully, but apart from the sulphurets, he gives it as his deliberate judgment that “between the Hillabee bridge and the Birdsong pits, there is enough free milling gold ore to maintain a dozen stamp mills, of two hundred tons capacity per day, at work profitably for twenty-five years. He bases this roseate opinion upon his own personal survey and a thorough examination of this region. In an interesting letter, Col. B. L. Dean (who acted as guide for Dr. Phillips, and whose letter is published in Bulletin No. 3), after describing minutely the several pits mentioned above, goes on to say, “about two and a half miles west of the Log pits we find a great mass of ore in the Hog mountain. There are millions of tons of quartz in the Hog mountain, all of it carrying gold.” Assays of this ore varied in value from $4 to $16 per ton. He says that the first work in gold mining, in that part of Tallapoosa, was done by Edward Birdsong, who died over thirty years ago. His widow once explained to Col. Bean the reason why her husband stopped the work. The country, she said, was full of miners, and she could not afford to raise her children where the Sabbath was a day of hunting and gambling. In illustration of the gold fever, she said that her negro cook, after attending to all the duties of the house, would take a pan and wash out seventy-five cents worth of gold a day, crushing the ore in a little hand mortar. In eighteen assays of samples from different pits—numbers 1,282 to 1,299 inclusive—only a trace of silver is found in ten of them, and in one, from the Jones pits, it showed 3–10 ounce per ton. The same assay showed gold 9–10 ounce per ton and a value of $8,90. This was by far the most valuable of the samples assayed. The famous “Hog mountain,” to which reference has been made, lies four miles due west from Goldville; is about one thousand feet above tide water and towers five hundred feet above the surrounding country. It gets its name from its peculiar shape when viewed from a distance. On the west side are “enormous outcrops of quartz seams and massive bowlders of quartz.” One of the seams is uncovered to a breadth of thirty-five feet, from which good ore has been taken. Dr. Phillips informs us that there is now a ten-stamp mill, California pattern, with boiler and engine, on the property, but no work has been done there for several years. He estimates that as much as five hundred tons of ore have been mined and milled in this locality. He further informs us that a company organized in St. Louis, called the Tallapoosa Mining company, is about to begin work at Hog mountain on an extensive scale. He estimates that there are millions of workable ore in this mountain, and with a “modern mill crushing two hundred to three hundred tons per day” the business could be made very profitable. Mr. A. F. Hopper, writing to James P. Dawson, Esq., of St. Louis, president of the Tallapoosa Mining company, says that in 1886 and 1887 he had several assays made of Hog mountain ore, some of which ran as low as $2, some as high as S31, and averaging $7.50 per ton of ore. Dr. Phillips made (in 1891) four assays from ore taken at random from some old dumps on Hog mountain, which ran from $6.20 to $58.67 per ton, showing an average of $24.23 per ton. In summing up his researches, in the Goldville and Hog mountain belts, he remarks that the Ulrich and Jones pitts are well supplied with running water, sufficient for extensive operations; that the nearest water supply to Hog mountain is Hillabee creek, about two and a half miles distant; that an abundance of good timber of all kinds is within easy reach of Hog mountain, and all the pits mentioned; and that gold mining can be carried on perfectly in this part of the gold belt. In the same county, Tallapoosa, about thirteen miles southwest of Dadeville, is “Silver Hill,” where mining was carried on as far back as the year 1835, but there are no records of the result that are attainable at this date. Dr. Phillips, however, finds evidence that a great deal of work was done here, as the old works are quite extensive. Professor Toumey and Mr. Lieber both visited the locality before the shafts, drifts, etc., had falllen in, and the former, in his report published in 1858, gives an interesting description of the veins, illustrating it with sectional views. He says that about ten years before that date “This mine was in a very prosperous condition. About 150 feet of the principal vein was outcropping on the crest of a hill.” It was two feet thick near the surface; about twelve feet below the surface it becomes richer and thinner, but at a depth of fifteen feet below the surface it becomes poorer again. Then it thickened to four or five feet and continued to improve in productiveness until it was abandoned. The vein was worked to a depth of eighty feet in the center, where ore was found worth $4.85 per bushel, or or about $96 per ton. Professor Toumey attributes the ruin of the works to the accustomed mode of “letting out the mine in small parcels.” It was subsequently re-opened, and while an adit was being driven above the natural drainage of the creek, the proprietor had ore hauled by oxen from the top of the hill to the mill, a distance of about two hundred and fifty yards, where six stamps and a badly constructed “Burke rocker” were in operation. The ore thus treated was worth only about $2.50 per ton. Mr. Lieber, who more recently examined the place, reported as follows to Prof. Toumey: “The country is a talcose slate, one of the beds of which is of that peculiar black kind resembling black lead. Another talcose bed, in which quartz appears in irregular masses, is the one which is worked, the slate being also auriferous. The main body is eight feet thick. Deeper down, the quartz will consolidate, in all probability, into a regular vein. Garnets and peroxide of iron occur, but all mixed confusedly with the slate. The present company have driven two good adits, one of which is four hundred feet in length, which, by draining a large amount of untouched ore, will enable them to work the contents of the mine for a long time, without any additional expense of consequence for drainage. The gold is said to be worth ninetyfive cents per pennyweight * * * On the tributaries of the creek, a great amount of gravel has been washed, in years past, for gold, and with much success, but these works have been abandoned years since.” Dr. Phillips confirms the foregoing statement with regard to Silver hill, and finds sufficient evidence of the “wasteful and unscientific methods” pursued by the early miners. He is confident that there is still good silver ore at Silver hill, and proves it by assays of three samples “taken at random from some old dumps.” “The first sample was bluish crystalline quartz, carrying pyrite, which assayed, gold 4 9–10 ounces per ton; silver 3.7-10 ounces per ton—valued at $104,98 per ton. The second sample was yellowish, sugary quartz, which assayed gold 4–10 ounce, silver 3–10 ounce per ton—value. SS. 50. The third sample, light and sugary quartz, gave only traces of gold and silver. The first assay represented the ore found in the bottom of a shaft of eight feet. The vein was described by Mr. Worthington, who worked it, as being about five feet in width and as carrying a good deal of sulphuret.” At the time of Dr. Phillips’ visit (August, 1891) this shaft was filled with water. Dr. Phillips, in his “Preliminary Report,” publishes some interesting letters from Major C. H. Parmalee of New York, which furnish information worth considering here. In a letter dated September 1, 1891, he says that many years ago he had some assays made of Silver hill ores, the lowest of which showed a value of $15 and the highest of $500 per ton. Some Cincinnati parties, several years afterward, had assays made of the Silver hill sulphuret ores, of which the average was thirty dollars per ton. At Gregory hill—two miles north of Silver hill— Major Parmalee says that, in about 1861, he worked about 1,200 tons of ore without any care in selection, which averaged $1.75 per ton. The screens used were very coarse, and he says their knowledge of the business was very slight. “I think,” he continues, “that Gregory hill would average, without selection, $2.00 per ton, and at a cost of fifty cents per ton; ample water can be obtained for twenty stamps, say sixty tons, per day. I think it would be safe to call the Silver hill refractory ores $25. I once got fourteen dollars free gold per ton from eight tons of refuse Silver hill ore. The ore was partially decomposed by weather exposure, say for twenty years.” In a subsequent letter, dated October 2, 1891, Major Parmalee writes Dr. Phillips as follows: “You are probably not aware that there is a shaft sunk about ninety feet down square on to the sulphuret vein—at least thirty feet or more below any of the old* * * It was in this shaft that Prof. Emmons examined the + * + works. vein. It has been sunk about twenty feet deeper since that time. There is also another shaft in the same vein about 150 feet west of this, which can be cleaned out. The ore from these shafts will assay from fifteen to fifty dollars. The vein, so far as stripped, averaged from eighteen to twenty-four inches.” Mr. Parmalee, Dr. Phillips’ states, has a fifteen stamp mill at work at Gregory hill, where the ore is rapidly treated. The water supply is not sufficient to operate more than twenty stamps, but the doctor thinks there is sufficient ore in sight to warrant much more extensive works which, with good management, would yield a handsome profit. Blue hill, in the same section, shows similar characteristics to Gregory hill. At the latter place, the explorer says, “it is almost impossible to take a pan from any place on top of the hill, where the ore has been mined, without getting free gold; the surface yields good panning and when one takes the ore itself extraordinary results are obtained.” He says that he has never seen better panning anywhere than from this locality. The chief drawback to mining in both localities is the absence of sufficient water. Blue creek—a bold stream of water which could be tapped within a distance of one mile—would afford an ample supply, but that water can only be made available by the use of powerful pumping machinery, which would of course be expensive. At Long branch, about one mile south of Silver hill, a good deal of successful work has been done, and also at Owl hollow, in the same vicinity. The former place, according to reports, yielded much gold about forty or fifty years ago. The Morgan mine, on the Talapoosa river, not far from Dudleyville, says Toumey’s report (1858) “is a deposit mine, composed of a thick bed of coarse gravel. The mine was just opened at the time of my visit and was attracting much attention.” The southwestern corner of Talapoosa county, Dr. Phillips tells us, “is the southern limit of the gold region of the state.” Chambers county he also places in the Lower gold belt, but so far as known no attempts at mining have been made in the county. Heavy quartz seems to abound as far south as Lafayette, but these have not been examined. Dr. Phillips thinks the outlook is better in the Upper than in the Lower belt, particularly in the vicinity of Arbacochee, where placer mining has been carried on for fifty years, and at Bell’s mills, Idaho, Extension miné, Pinetucky (where a ten stamp mill is now at work) and other localities in Cleburne, Randolph, Talladega and Clay counties. Gold has been profitably worked at the Riddle’s Hold mine, Talladega county. In much of the quartz mined here, gold was plainly visible to the eye, and the numerous assays from various depths, as well as the testimony of those who have worked the mine, show, in the judgment of Dr. Smith, that the mining can be carried on here with profit. Gold, he says, has been mined also northeast and southwest of the Riddle mine, in the same belt, but with no other appliances than a pick and pan.

In concluding this review of the gold and silver mines of Alabama, the language of Prof. Toumey in his report, published more than thirty years ago, seems as applicable to-day as when the words were penned by that far-sighted and enlightened scientist: “It is impossible,” he says, “to point out all the occurrences of deposit gold in Alabama, and it is almost as difficult to ascertain all the localities at which it might be profitably worked. * * * Future discoveries will probably develop more than it is possible to show at present.” The fact that, after so long an interval, gold and silver are now being mined in the state; that the precious metals exist, in considerable quantities, in a large area; that enterprise and capital are preparing to seek for them diligently, aided by the improved appliances of modern times, and the further fact that the statements herein given will be new and interesting to many people, will excuse, if apology were necessary, the time and space devoted to this part of the subject of “Mines and Mining in Alabama.”

Alabama Gold Locations

Gold in Bibb County Alabama

Where To Find Gold In Chilton County Alabama

Chilton county sourced its gold from several streams and tributaries that flowed towards Coosa River in Clanton City and the small town of Verbena, Alabama. The tributaries of Blue Creek and Chestnut Creek were early producers of gold. The rock exposures that are limited on the south west by the overlap of the Upper Cretaceous Formation (Tuscaloosa Formation). Nuggets weighing up to 4 ounces have been reported from Blue Creek, a short tributary of the Coosa River in the southeastern part of the county.

Chilton County Alabama gold information now has its own page:


Gold Mines In Chilton County Alabama

Gold In Clay County Alabama

Clay County Alabama Gold Map

Placer gold is found in many streams in the county including Crooked Creek, Wesobulga Creek and the Tallapoosa River.

The Manning Placer, consist of old diggings along tributaries of Crooked creek, which were landmarks of 1830’s and 40’s. You will find thin quartz veins nearby that produce placer and lode gold.  The Tallapoosa River shoal sands show placer gold.

The Chinca Pina Property was an open cut, inclined shaft, with several prospect holes, with best panning in surface gravel contained placer gold. The Haraldson Mine was an old mine. The California Property was the site of 10 stamp mill and had gold obtainable by crushing and panning

South of Lineville, Alabama, in area streams emptying into Crooked Creek, the placers are said to be very rich.

Cragford district is located along far east side of Clay county and far west side of Randolph County you will find the Grizzle Property, it has veins in quartz to 30 feet deep and you could find rich specimen ore near surface, the mine was famous for free milling gold. The H. S. Bradley land had prospects that contained free milling gold. The Manning Placer, consist of old diggings along tributaries of Crooked creek, which were landmarks of 1830’s and 40’s. You will find thin quartz veins nearby that produce placer and lode gold. The Farrar Property, had a deep shaft and crosscut tunnel, worked before 1860 for lode gold. The Morris Property contained ore in formation that was traceable 1 mile northeast to the Tallapoosa River. The Tallapoosa River shoal sands show placer gold. At Wildcat Hollow, the Teakle Property consisted of a deep shaft known as the Orum Pit, produced lode gold. Adjacent to Wildcat Hollow, the Bradford Fraction produced lode gold. The Goldberg Mine, was an open cut, inclined pit, with veins 6-15 inches thick that contained gold with antimony, copper, traces of arsenic. The W. D. Mitchell’s Pine Hill Prospect was an 80 foot deep inclined shaft and pits along strike in ore body 14 ft. thick. The Bradford Ridge Mine was the most extensively prospected mine in the district and was the site of a 10 stamp mill contained gold, with some arsenopyrite. Between forks of White Oak and Wesobulga creeks you will find the Dawkins Property, which was the site of old 10 stamp mill and produced lode gold saved by amalgamation.

Erin, Alabama

South of Erin, Alabama in gravel bars of Gold Mines Creek, you will find placer gold, with sillimanite, pyrope garnets and talc.

Gold Mines In Clay County Alabama
Alabama Gold and Mica Mine
Amason Prospect
Eley Gold Mine
Haraldson Gold Mine

Gold in Cleburn County Alabama

There are lode mines of copper and gold and waters in the Chulafinnee Mining District give up placer gold. 

Nearly 30,000 ounces of gold were produced in Cleburne county, mostly in the Arbacoochee district in the southern part of the county. Most of the gold came from placer deposits near Gold Hill and Clear Creek. All area streams and their tributaries in the Arbacoochee Mining District, which includes the northern part of Randolph County, is reportedly the richest placer ground in Alabama. All area streams and tributaries in the Chulafinnee Mining District, west of the Arbacoochee District, had significant early placer mining operations.

The Middlebrook Property is reported to have rich panning.

Along Chulafinnee Creek and its tributaries, the Chulafinnee placers, was gold rich gravels under 6 foot of overburden.  The Carr Creek Placer is 240 acres of clay and gravel that contains placer gold. Area watercourse gravels and sands contain placer gold. The Arbacoochee Placer was the most extraordinary gold placer deposit in Alabama, covering 600 acres on top and sides of Gold Hill, once giving employment to 600 men. The Clear Creek placers were long famed for its rich production. The Pritchet Property had panning gold.

Arbacoochee Mining District

As early as 1842 placer mining was carried on in these districts very extensively. Especially was this the case with regard to Arbacoochee, when the town bearing that name was a typical placer mining camp, in all that the name implies. The stories of big nuggets, and rich pockets or beds of gravel, are to a certain extent facts, proven by the returns from the Mints, in which Alabama is credited with producing $365,300.00 in gold between the years 1799 and 1879, the bulk of which came from this district. I group these districts under one head because they are in the same geological formation, the continuity of which is maintained throughout. While Chulafinnee is located about 10 miles to the south-west of Arbacoochee, and across the Tallapoosa River, yet from a miner’s standpoint the relationship between the two localities is so close that I am justified in classing them under one head; although I shall consider the occurrences of gold-bearing ore and gravel in each separately. openings show that mining was carried on quite extensively; but it is impossible to form any estimate of the extent of the ore body, because the deeper shafts are filled with water, while the shallow openings have been abandoned so long they are filled with debris. In one pit, near the surface, I was enabled to expose a seam of hard white quartzite about six inches thick, having a N. and S. strike, and dipping nearly vertically towards the E., bedded in strata of decomposed schist. This, however, could hardly have been what the owners were working, because it only assayed $1.03 a ton in gold. From the extent of this pit, the mouth of which covers an area of some 2,50″0 square feet, it would appear as though the country rock had been milled, as well as the thin strata of quartzite.

Chulafinnee Mining District

The Chulafinnee Mines are located, so far as at present discovered, in Sees. 1JH 15, 16, 23, 2If, 25, T. 17, R.9.E. The most extensive placer mining in the past was done on these tracts, through which the waters of Chulafinnee and Carr Creeks flow.

Judging from the extent of the tailing dumps and workings, the gravel beds must have been quite extensive. But these have been worked out where profitable, and to-day some five or six feet of surface soil have to be removed to reach gold-bearing gravel, which will pay an average of 75 cents a day to the man by sluicing. Consequently these cannot any longer be. considered as paying placer mines, though the formation would warrant investigation with the view of adopting hydraulic mining, and such might prove profitable because the gravel beds exposed under the soil are apparently of considerable extent.

Cleburne County Alabama Gold Map

Cleburne County Alabama Gold Mines

Some of the most valuable placers in Alabama are found in Cleburne County. Waters in the Chulafinnee Mining District will all produce gold. Lode Mines are scattered throughout the county, with both copper and gold being the predominant metals. 

Arbacoochee District

Anna Howe Mine
Arabacoochee Placer
Arbacoochee Mine
Ayers Prospect
Ballinger Prospect
Clear Creek Lode and Placer
Creamer Mine (Reeves Shaft)
Crown Point Property Prospect
Crumpton Prospect
Crutchfield Mine
Denson Prospect
Eckles Mine
Golden Eagle Mine (Price Mine)
Head Mine
Hicks-Wise Mine
Johnson prospect (Walker prospect)
King Mine

“Alabama King Mine” is a past producer vein deposit site in the Appalachian Highlands of Alabama, The United States. It is a small deposit, located in the Devils Backbone mining district and is not considered to be of world-class significance.

Lee Mine
Lucky Joe Mine (Moss-Back Mine)
Marble Pit Mine
Miller Prospect
Pritchet Mine (Pritchard Mine; Moss-Back Mine)
Section 5 – Arbacoochee Mine
Sutherland Mine
Bennifield Prospect
Middlebrook Mine
Valdor Prospect

Gold in Coosa County Alabama

Gold Mining in Coosa County Alabama

Placer gold has been found at Hatchett & Weogufka Creeks and the Gold Ridge Mine produced lode gold. 

Widely scattered findings are reported along Weogufka Creek, Hatchett Creek (Latitude 32°55’00”,   Longitude 86°16’13”) and Rockford Placers. Along Weogufka Creek is where the Weogufka Creek Placer and is said to contain pans that run 4-20 colors a pan.  At Alum Bluff, near mouth of Hatchett Creek, the Hatchett Creek Placer Mine, gravels were rich enough to have kept 50 men working in 1840, the source of gold was probably in nearby quartz vein carrying decomposed pyrite.

Along Gin House Branch and Carrol and Pole branches was the location of the Rockford Placer which was productive in early years.

Weogufka Creek Placer
HILLABEE (IWANA) GREEN SCHIST BELT

A belt of light green colored, highly pyritiferous, altered eruptive rock occurs paralleling the “Talladega” slate proper of the Talladega Mountains, on the south-eastern edge; and apparently maintaining its continuity along the line of strike, from the Coosa River, near the mouth of Weogufka Creek, towards the north-east into Cleburne county.

This rock is distinguishable from the “Talladega” slates by the large percentage of unaltered pyrites it carries, as well as by its massive structure, hardness and toughness. These last characteristics cause it to be very difficult to drill and blast; while the quantity of crystals of pyrites imbedded in it has proved in the past very attractive to prospectors for copper ore.

Gold in Rockford Alabama

In the bed of the Gin-house branch, as also in the Carroll and Pole branches, contiguous to this locality, gold has been obtained by washing. The gold is derived from the quartz seams held in the slates and is now associated with the gravel resulting from the breaking dowu and distribution of the quartz. I do not think that the gravel is worthy of any extensive examination, although it may he that some of the quartz seams carry enough gold to warrant investigation.

Almost within the limits of the town of Rockford is an old pit sunk forty or fifty years since for gold. The ore is quartz, walled in slate, strike N. 3° E., dip S. E. 40, Width of seam 6 feet. A sample taken from the old dump gave on fire assay:

No– 1311- {88321111311333 32.} Value Per to, $12 4°

It was worked several years ago by Mr. Lewis Parsons, of Birmingham, with but little success so far as could be learned. When first opened the ore was roughly crushed and washed at a small stream near by with some profit. It is often the case that such seams near the surface, where atmospheric agencies have been at work for ages, will yield enough gold by the simplest processes to pay for the labor and give more or less of a profit besides_ But as the ore becomes harder. and more especially when sulphurets begin to appear, as is almost universally the case, the crude methods of fifty years since will not suffice. This is the main reason why so many abandoned pits, shafts, &c., are to be seen in all parts of the gold belt.

Gold Near Hissop Alabama

Hissop is a census-designated place and unincorporated community in Coosa County.

Near Hissop postoflice, on the land of F. M. Darsey, I observed a close grained granite in association with a highly metamorphosed clay slate, in Sec. 14, T. 22, R. 19, Coosa County. Mr. Darsey afterwards sent me a sample of cellular quartz from near this place but it contained ouly $2.06 in gold per ton.*

On the land of E. M. Thomas (Hissop P. O.) in Sec. 11, T. 22, R. 19, is a heavy ledge of a highly graphitic schist inclosed between walls of coarse granite. Mr. Thomas informed me that a few years ago he roasted and smelted some of this schist in a black-smith’s forge and obtained from one pound of the rock 35 cents worth of silver. This silver he had made into a collar button and, as proof that the rock contained silver and that he had extracted it, he exhibited the button. I took samples of the schist from the same spot which was said to have yielded the silver but on fire assay it failed to show more than the merest trace of gold, with no silver. As the schist is pyritous the gold may be contained in the pyrite, but certainly it is difficult to be— lieve that from this rock any one had obtained silver on the scale of $700 per ton. From near the same locality I took a sample of bluish-green mud which Mr. Thomas also assured me contained silver, as he had himself run it out. On fire assay it gave the merest trace of metal.

On the land of Harris McKinney, in Sec. 6, T. 23, R. 19, and also in Sec. 1, T. 22, R. 19, Coos-a County, there is said to occur a seam of magnetite. I examined the same seam in Sec. 31, T. 23, R. 19, at Mr. McKinney’s house, where small peices of a slightly magnetic brown ore are found on the surface, but I am not of the opinion that magnetite in any quantity Wlll be found in the vicinity. The ore is derived from the oxidation of local seams of pyrite in the schists and slates and even now pyrite may be observed in immediate proximity to the ore. I obtained at Mr. McKinney’s house a peice of sugary quartz representing a seam said to be on his land. On assay, however, it gave:

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Gold Mines In Coosa County Alabama
Stewart Mine

Stewart Mine is a past producer vein deposit site in the Appalachian Highlands of Alabama, The United States. It is a small deposit, not considered to be of world-class significance.

Weogufka, Alabama Gold Mines

All Weogufka, Alabama gold mines are located on private property.

Stewart Mine

Stewart Mine is a past producer vein deposit site in the Appalachian Highlands of Alabama, The United States. It is a small deposit, not considered to be of world-class significance.

Flint Hill Mine

Sec. 17, T. 22, R. 16 E., Coosa Co.

Heavy seams of crystalline quartz occur here in talcose schist. Of four samples taken only one showed more than a trace of gold and this one contained $4.13 per ton.

Flint Hill is about two miles above Wm. Hardy’s Mill on We’ogufi’ka Greek. At the foot of the hill coming towards Hardy’s Mill there is found a heavy ledge of talco-micaceous schist carrying graphite and pyrite. These two minerals are so closely associated in the same rock as to give it a very odd appearance. Upon fire assay, however, I found no more than a trace of gold and silver.

In this part of the county many people have sought for a valuable silver mine said to have been worked by the Indians, but concealed by them, so that no one can find it. According to current opinion, the mine is extremely rich, having furnished the Indians with untold wealth for generations. When they left the county, some sixty years ago, they sealed up the entrance to the mine with heavy rocks and then obliterated all traces of the approaches to it. This was very unkind, for they had no reasonable expectation of returning to Coosa County, and could just as well as not have told where the mine was and how they obtained the ore. I am inclined to think that if the Indians mined silver in this part of Coosa County they had first to convey the ore there from some other locality, an operation by no means unheard of, it is true, but in this case hard to believe.

I have to thank Mr. R. C. Hardy, Dollar P. 0., for many courtesies, especially in pointing out to me one of the late Wm.Gessner’s Tin Mines. This is situated in the S. W. Sec. 24, T. 22, R. 16 E. Some excavations have been made here, . and Mr. Hardy informed me that from the ore obtained Gessner got 3.50 per cent of tin. Mr. Hardy said that he was with Mr. Gessner when he took the samples and he gave me a piece of the ore from which it is said 3.50 per cent of tin was obtained. .

The ore is a close grained, much distorted quartz veinlets bound in hydro-mica talcoid schist. No extensive investigation has been made at this place.

During my stay in this part of Coosa County I was the recipient of’ many kindnesses from Mr. Frank Higgins, who owns the Higgins Ferry and a great deal of the best land along the river contiguous to the Ferry. I desire to express here my obligations to him and the various members of his family. It is always a pleasure to meet wide awake, intelligent men who are interested in the development of the country.

The photograps taken in Chilton County and in this part of Coosa County were unfortunately lost in shipment to Tuscaloosa, so that no views can be given of the Rippatoe or the Alum Bluff.

Flint Hill Mine is a past producer deposit site in the Appalachian Highlands of Alabama. It is a small deposit.

Hatchet Creek Placer
Stewart’s Au Mine Parson’s Mine
Weogufka Creek Placer

Gold in Elmore County Alabama

Gold in Randolph County Alabama

Along the far west side of Randolph County and the far east side of Clay County lies the Cragford district.  Several mines operating here produced free-milling gold from veins in quartz. Properties situated along the tributaries of Crooked Creek have both placer and lode gold deposits.Area streams and branches near Wedowee are most productive. Placer gold is found in the local watercourses, beach sands and gravels.

 Near Omaha gold colors are reported in the streams.

 In Wedowee, the area creek sands and gravels along the Tallapoosa River have good gold placers. A mine on Wedowee Creek is said to contain lode gold, but nearby stream gravels have placer gold.

Bordering Randolph County and nearby Wildcat Hollow Prospect, the banks of the Tallapoosa River will produce some fine placer gold. Numerous lode mines in this area have all produced lode gold. Other gold deposits can be found in Wesobulga Creek and White Oak Creeks just south of Cragford.

Gold in Shelby County Alabama

Gold in Talladega County Alabama

Riddle Mine and Story Mine are past producers of lode gold. Placer gold is still found in Talladega Creek.

Gold Mines In Talladega County Alabama

Gold in Tallapoosa County Alabama

In the early 1840’s Tallapoosa County experienced a gold rush. Gold Mining operations were carried on in Tallapoosa County from 1842 to 1936. The area in the northeastern part of Tallapoosa County came to be called Goldville. The town of Goldville was born and died between the census of 1840 and 1850.

Talladega National Forest Gold Prospecting

As of 2013, Alabama was home to seven National Park Service units, one national monument, one national forest, three wilderness areas, one national preserve, one national military park, one national heritage area, two national historic trails, two national historic sites, and 15 national recreation trails.

Before you plan an activity on national forest lands, please check whether or not you need a permit or pass. Many of the facilities and services are free; however, some activities require fees or permits to help maintain, manage and improve the amenities that you enjoy.The majority of the recreation fees collected stay on the forest and go right back into improving the recreational opportunities visitors use and value the most – campgrounds, developed day use sites, boat ramps, trails, and much more.

Always contact a Forest Service district office for information prior to collecting any forest product to find out if you will need a permit. Please remember that many wildflowers, orchids and medicinal plants found on the Forest may be listed as sensitive, threatened or endangered.

A permit may be required for group gatherings or events, filming or videography, research, mineral, gold panning, rock collecting, or long term uses such as outfitter guides, roads and water systems. Each district office has a special use coordinator who is available to answer your questions.

Additional Resources

Chilton County Alabama Gold Mines Map

Gold Mining History Tallapoosa County, Alabama

Prospecting for Gold in the United States

MINERAL, ROCK COLLECTING AND METAL DETECTING ON THE NATIONAL FORESTS

Alabama Department of Environmental Management

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