There's Gold in Them Thar Hills

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I suppose most investors in North America would be familiar with the term, “There’s gold in them thar hills, boys,” not knowing that it was a quote from a Mark Twain book set in California.

But Mark Twain didn’t invent the phrase, he stole it. Or borrowed it depending on how you view it. Gold was discovered at Sutter’s Creek in California in 1848. As with the Alaska gold rush later, people were actually well aware of gold in California before 1848 but it took the mania created by the Sutter Mill discovery to make a real “Gold Rush.”

The main gold mining region of the United States at the time was in the Carolinas in the Carolina Slate Belt. This gold belt actually extends all the way from Alabama up through Newfoundland and into Cornwall and Devon in England. If you look at a map of Newfoundland and a map of England, it’s obvious they were once connected. Gold has been found in Devon that is virtually identical to gold found in Newfoundland.

A young boy in North Carolina named Conrad Reed in 1799 found the first gold found in the United States in commercial quantity. That started our nation’s first gold rush and soon a mint was founded in Charlotte North Carolina to turn that gold into coins. The same act that created the Charlotte mint provided for another mint in Dahlonega, Georgia.

It was in early 1849 that the director of the Mint at Dahlonega, Dr. M. F. Stephenson spoke from the steps of the mint building in a futile attempt to convince the miners to remain in Georgia to mine rather than to flock to California to chase what might be an impossible dream. “There’s gold in them thar hills, boys,” he shouted as he pointed at the hills surrounding Dahlonega.

I’ve been to that mint building in Dahlonega. If you like gold and enjoy adventure and are ever in the Atlanta area, rent a car and drive up. There are mines with tours and gold panning. It’s a beautiful area and when you visit you will understand why the Native Indians called it “The River of Gold” or Dahlonega.

I’ve also run a suction dredge in creeks in North Carolina seeking that illusive dream, gold in the bottom of my pan. As I did, I always wondered why there wasn’t more mining activity going on.

The biggest reason is that the land ownership is a giant issue. There is a lot of gold around Charlotte, near the Reed Mine and I’ve had people call me and tell me they found gold in their backyard and would anyone be interested in starting up a gold mine. And of course, the answer is no, the land ownership in a city is impossible. Unlike most countries, the government doesn’t own the minerals, the landowner does.

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