9621 Reed Mine Rd., Concord
HOURS: Tues.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (panning Apr. 1–Oct. 31)
COST: Free; $2 to pan for gold
California gets all of the attention for its gold rush, but North Carolina had a piece of the action, too. North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848. During that time, the estimated value of gold recovered in the state topped $1 million per year.
Reed Gold Mine was the site of the first documented gold finds in the United States. Underground mining operations have been closed since 1912 but it’s still possible to pan for gold at the mine.
The mine was established as a state historic site in 1966 to educate visitors about the history of gold mining in North Carolina. Portions of the underground tunnels have been restored for guided tours and an historic ore-crushing stamp mill provides a glimpse into how gold was processed.
The visitors center is filled with historic mining equipment and exhibits of gold found on-site and an orientation film highlights the first gold discovery at the mine.