Arbacoochee in Cleburne County, Alabama was the site where gold was first discovered in Alabama in 1832. According to historian George W. Yarbrough,
“This was probably the most profitable gold mine in Alabama’s history.”
Arbacoochee was named after the old Creek Indian village of “Abihkuchi”, which translates to “a pile at the base.” Arbacoochee is located on CR-42 between SH 46 & SH 9, nine miles southeast of Heflin, Alabama.
Arbacoochee Alabama Gold
Gold was discovered in Arbacoochee in 1832, and the local mines produced over $5,000,000 worth of gold. In 1845, less than 15 years later, it was bursting at the seams with 5,000 residents. Reportedly, the Arbacoochee business district included 20 general stores, hotels, saloons, and of course, stores where miners could purchase equipment.
Some prospecting was done on the placer deposits near Arbacoochee, in Cleburne County, but it resulted in no extensive development. The dredge installed there two years ago has been dismantled. Near Chula Finne there was some prospecting for gold quartz. Placer gold was found in a branch on the Tucker farm, 2 miles east of Heflin, and a little sluicing was clone in June. The Story mine in Talladega County was operated by the Gold Log Mining Co. The ore is treated in a 10-stamp amalgamating mill.
In the vicinity of Arbacoochee the old placer workings covered a narrow area about 3 miles from east to west along Mud Creek. Much of the work done was on shallow, hillside wash. The material worked was angular quartz carried in a red clay; it is entirely local. The gold in the form of irregular angular nuggets and flakes was evidently derived from the numerous small quartz stringers in the saprolitic schists, and the concentration was practically in place. A little gold was carried into the bed of Mud Creek, which has been worked to the junction with Clear Creek. Clear Creek, so far as could be learned, has not been prospected, though it heads in Turkey Heaven Mountain, in which there are known to be auriferous lodes. It would seem that the saprolite deposits east of Arbacoochee should be tested and that drilling in the angular quartz gravels of Clear Creek, both above and below the mouth of Mud Creek, might reveal workable dredge ground. Above the mouth of Mud Creek the Clear Creek gravels appear to be relatively thin, ranging from 3 to 8 feet thick; below the mouth of Mud Creek the valley widens to about 1 mile and the gravels appear to be deeper. It is said that at the dredge there was 1(5 feet of gravel and most of the gold was concentrated in the lower 2 or 3 feet. Angular quartz fragments from 2 to 8 inches constitute about 85 per cent of the gravel, the remainder being rather soft schist and slate. This condition is brought about by the soft altered condition of most of the rocks in the vicinity.
Arbacoochee Alabama History
1880 was the only year a population was officially reported for the unincorporated community: 50 persons. This made it the second largest community behind the then-county seat of Edwardsville.
The town fell when miners left for the California gold rush. Although there was still mining in Arbacoochee until the 1930’s, there was no resurrection, and it was empty by 1990. A once bustling mining camp, it is now another Alabama ghost town with little to show for the rich gold that was once so abundant there.
Bill Plott, writing for the Tuscaloosa News, reports “Gold Mining Still Going On In Alabama.”