Georgia Gold Rush
The Georgia Gold Rush was the second significant gold rush
Gold rush
A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers to an area that has had a dramatic discovery of gold. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and the United States, while smaller gold rushes took place elsewhere.In the 19th and early...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It started in 1828 in the present day Lumpkin County
Lumpkin County, Georgia
Lumpkin County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 29,966. Its county seat is Dahlonega.- History :...

 near county seat Dahlonega, and soon spread through the North Georgia mountains
North Georgia mountains
The Georgia Mountains Region or North Georgia mountains or Northeast Georgia is an area that starts in the northeast corner of Georgia, United States, and spreads in a westerly direction. The mountains in this region are in the Blue Ridge mountain chain that ends in Georgia...

, following the Georgia Gold Belt
Georgia Gold Belt
The largest quantities of gold found in the eastern United States were found in the Georgia Gold Belt, which extends from eastern Alabama to Rabun County, Georgia. The biggest concentration of gold was found in White, Lumpkin, and northern Cherokee counties in Georgia. The gold in the Georgia Gold...

. By the early 1840s, gold became harder to find. When gold was discovered in California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 in 1848 to start the California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

, many Georgia miners moved west.

Prior to 1828

Although the discovery of gold in Georgia in 1828 was the event that led to the Georgia Gold Rush, there was knowledge of gold in the North Georgia Mountains much earlier. Since the 16th century, American Indians
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 in Georgia told Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an explorers that the small amounts of gold which they possessed came from mountains of the interior. Some poorly documented accounts exist of Spanish or French mining gold in north Georgia between 1560 and 1690, but they are based on supposition and on rumors passed on by Indians. In summing up known sources, Yeates observed: “Many of these accounts and traditions seem to be quite plausible. Nevertheless, it is hardly probable, that the Spaniards would have abandoned mines, which were afterwards found to be quite profitable, as those in North Georgia.” In 1799, gold was discovered in North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 spurring a gold rush there, which led to speculation that there was probably gold in Georgia, too.

1828 discovery

Two factors connected with the Georgia gold discovery created the conditions that led to the Georgia Gold Rush in 1829. First, the placer deposit
Placer deposit
In geology, a placer deposit or placer is an accumulation of valuable minerals formed by gravity separation during sedimentary processes. The name is from the Spanish word placer, meaning "alluvial sand". Placer mining is an important source of gold, and was the main technique used in the early...

s found in Georgia meant that gold was relatively easy to collect. Second, word of Georgia’s gold deposits spread rapidly, with stories that captured the imagination.

No one knows which version of the original find is accurate:
  • Some anecdotes have either Frank Logan or his slave making the find in White County, Georgia
    White County, Georgia
    White County is a county located in the northeast corner of the U.S. state of Georgia. It was created on December 22, 1857, from part of Habersham County. The county was named for Newton County Representative David T. White, who helped a Habersham representative successfully attain passage of an...

     in Dukes Creek
    Dukes Creek
    Dukes Creek is the creek in White County, Georgia on which gold was found in 1828. Either Frank Logan or one of his slaves is typically given the credit for this find. The discovery of gold in White County and neighboring Lumpkin County led to the Georgia Gold Rush...

  • Another version of the White County find has John Witheroods finding a three-ounce nugget along Dukes Creek.
  • Still another version was that the North Carolina prospector Jesse Hogan found gold near Dahlonega, Georgia at Ward's Creek.
  • One account indicated that an explorer from Clemson, South Carolina was on Findley Ridge below present day Dahlonega, kicked a rock, and found gold in it.

These stories and others spread rapidly and “gold fever” soon took hold.


No matter who made the gold discovery in 1828, the gold rush started in 1829 in Lumpkin County and began spreading rapidly. One of the first public accounts was on August 1, 1829, when the Georgia Journal (a Milledgeville
Milledgeville, Georgia
Milledgeville is a city in and the county seat of Baldwin County in the U.S. state of Georgia. It is northeast of Macon, located just before Eatonton on the way to Athens along U.S. Highway 441, and it is located on the Oconee River. The relatively rapid current of the Oconee here made this an...

 newspaper), ran the following notice.

GOLD.—A gentleman of the first respectability in Habersham county, writes us thus under date of 22d July: "Two gold mines have just been discovered in this county, and preparations are making to bring these hidden treasures of the earth to use." So it appears that what we long anticipated has come to pass at last, namely, that the gold region of North and South Carolina, would be found to extend into Georgia.

This notice shows both that the gold rush had spread to Fulton County
Fulton County, Georgia
Fulton County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. Its county seat is Atlanta, the state capital since 1868 and the principal county of the Atlanta metropolitan area...

 and that the people of Georgia were certainly aware of the other gold finds in the southern Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...


Although much of the land on which the gold was found was under the control of the Cherokee Indians, mining operations quickly sprang up in Lumpkin, White
White County, Georgia
White County is a county located in the northeast corner of the U.S. state of Georgia. It was created on December 22, 1857, from part of Habersham County. The county was named for Newton County Representative David T. White, who helped a Habersham representative successfully attain passage of an...

, Union
Union County, Georgia
Union County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of 2000, the population was 17,289. The 2007 Census Estimate shows a population of 20,968. The county seat is Blairsville.Its Sole commissioner is Lamar Paris, who has served since 2001....

 and Cherokee
Cherokee County, Georgia
As of the census of 2000, there were 141,903 people, 49,495 households, and 39,200 families residing in the county. The population density was 335 people per square mile . There were 51,937 housing units at an average density of 123 per square mile...

 counties. In the early stages of the gold rush, the majority of the mining was placer mining
Placer mining
Placer mining is the mining of alluvial deposits for minerals. This may be done by open-pit or by various surface excavating equipment or tunneling equipment....

. By 1830, historians estimate that there were 4,000 miners working on just the Yahoola Creek in Lumpkin County and over 300 ounces (8.5 kg) of gold per day was being produced in an area from north of Blairsville
Blairsville, Georgia
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 659 people, 226 households, and 101 families residing in the city. The population density was 619.7 people per square mile . There were 261 housing units at an average density of 245.4 per square mile...

 to the southeast corner of Cherokee County. Other estimates were that there were 6,000 to 10,000 miners between the Chestatee River and the Etowah River
Etowah River
The Etowah River is a waterway that rises northwest of Dahlonega, Georgia, north of Atlanta. Its name is the Cherokee version of the original Muskogee word Etalwa, which means a "trail crossing". On Matthew Carey's 1795 map the river was labeled "High Town River"...

 in 1831. Boom towns like Auraria
Auraria, Georgia
Auraria is a town in Lumpkin County, Georgia, United States, southwest of Dahlonega. Its name derives from aurum, the Latin word for gold. In its early days, it was also known variously as Dean, Deans, Nuckollsville, and Scuffle Town.-History:In 1828, a man walked Findley Ridge, kicked a rock,...

 and Dahlonega began to appear and Dahlonega was said to have supported 15,000 miners at the height of the gold rush. During this rapid influx of prospectors and settlers, tensions with the Cherokee began to rise. Before long, gold mines appeared in most counties in the North Georgia mountains, including Georgia's northeastern-most county, Rabun
Rabun County, Georgia
Rabun County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2000 census, the population was 15,050. The 2007 Census Estimate shows a population of 16,519...


In 1832, Georgia held the Gold Lottery of 1832
Gold Lottery of 1832
The Gold Lottery of 1832 was the seventh lottery in the Georgia Land Lottery, a lottery system used by the State of Georgia between the years 1805 and 1832 to distribute land. It was authorized by the Georgia General Assembly by an act of December 24, 1831 a few years after the start of the...

, which awarded land which was owned by the Cherokee to the winners of the lottery in 40-acre (16 ha) tracts. In 1838, the Dahlonega Mint
Dahlonega Mint
The Dahlonega Mint was a branch of the United States Mint. It was located at 34°31.8′N 83°59.2′W at Dahlonega, Lumpkin County, Georgia. Coins produced at the Dahlonega Mint bear the "D" mint mark. That mint mark is used today by the Denver Mint, which opened many years after the Dahlonega Mint...

 was established in Dahlonega by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 as a branch mint
Branch mint
-United States:The original and main Mint of the United States Mint, has been located in Philadelphia , since 1793. Its current facility, Philadelphia's fourth, opened in 1969.U.S...

 of the United States Mint
United States Mint
The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce. The Mint was created by Congress with the Coinage Act of 1792, and placed within the Department of State...

. This was a testimony to the amount of gold being produced in Georgia. The establishment of the Dahlonega Mint seemed to validate Georgia's actions in the early part of the century to seize Cherokee lands. The culmination of tensions between the Cherokee and various states, including Georgia, led to the forced migration
Forced migration
Forced migration refers to the coerced movement of a person or persons away from their home or home region...

 of Native Americans, later known as the Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears
The Trail of Tears is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830...



By the early 1840s, most of the “easy” gold had been found, and efforts began to shift to working the known deposits. When news of the California Gold Rush reached Georgia, many miners moved west in search of more gold. The assayer of the Dahlonega Mint tried to convince them to stay. However, even with the departure of many miners, the mines in the Georgia Gold Belt continued to produce gold for years. There were some 500 mines in 37 different counties. It is estimated that Georgia produced about 870,000 troy ounces (24,000 kg) of gold between 1828 and the mid-20th century, when commercial gold production ceased.

Before they were expelled, the Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

s gained enough gold-mining experience to participate in later gold rushes in California in 1849 and Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 in 1859. Cherokee gold miners gave the name to the town of Cherokee, California
Cherokee, California
Cherokee is a census-designated place in Butte County, California An area inhabited by Maidu Indians prior to the gold rush. But that conversly takes its name from a band of Cherokee prospectors who perfected a mining claim on the site. The population was 69 at the 2010 census...

, as well as to a number of other geographic features in the California gold-mining region.

Experienced gold miners from Georgia played key roles in the beginning of gold mining in Colorado. Georgia gold miners Lewis and Samuel Ralston, along with some displaced Georgia Cherokees, noticed placer gold near the present site of Denver
Denver, Colorado
The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

 on their way to the new California gold fields in 1850. They returned east in 1857, having failed to strike it rich, but remembered the gold just east of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

. William Greeneberry Russell
William Greeneberry Russell
William Greeneberry "Green" Russell was an American prospector and miner.Green Russell lived in Georgia and worked in the California gold fields in the 1850s. Russell was married to a Cherokee woman, and through his connections to the tribe, he heard about an 1849 discovery of gold along the...

 led a party of Cherokees and Georgia gold miners back to Colorado in 1858, and began placer mining along the South Platte River
South Platte River
The South Platte River is one of the two principal tributaries of the Platte River and itself a major river of the American Midwest and the American Southwest/Mountain West, located in the U.S. states of Colorado and Nebraska...

 in present-day Denver. Other Georgians founded Auraria, Colorado, named after the gold-mining town in Georgia. Auraria merged with Denver soon after, but the neighborhood is still known as Auraria. The town of Golden, Colorado
Golden, Colorado
The City of Golden is a home rule municipality that is the county seat of Jefferson County, Colorado, United States. Golden lies along Clear Creek at the edge of the foothills of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Founded during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush on 16 June 1859, the mining camp was...

 is named after Georgia miner Thomas L. Golden
Thomas L. Golden
Thomas L. Golden was a miner from Georgia, United States, who was one of the earliest prospectors in today's Jefferson County, Colorado. Arriving during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush in 1858, he was partners with another prospector, George Andrew Jackson from Missouri...

. Another Georgia gold miner, John H. Gregory, discovered the first lode gold in Colorado in 1859.

In 1864, four prospectors known as "the Georgians" found one of the early gold placers in Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

, at Last Chance Gulch. The site became the state capital of Helena, Montana
Helena, Montana
Helena is the capital city of the U.S. state of Montana and the county seat of Lewis and Clark County. The 2010 census put the population at 28,180. The local daily newspaper is the Independent Record. The Helena Brewers minor league baseball and Helena Bighorns minor league hockey team call the...



Further reading

  • "Gold-Mining in Georgia." Harper's New Monthly Magazine 59, Issue 352 (September 1879): 517-519. Available here

External links

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