Thursday, August 29, 2019

Discover Historic Gold Hill

If you've lived in Charlotte for any length of time, you may know that this area was home to a gold rush in the early 1800s. It was such a booming time for mining that the United States Mint opened one of its first official branches here to convert gold deposits into coins, rather than shipping the valuable minerals to Mint headquarters in Philadelphia.

(Fun facts: Over the nine years it was in operation, the Charlotte Mint stamped out $5 million worth of coins. And you can visit the original building, which once stood uptown, on Randoph Road. It now houses the Mint Museum).

The Carolina Gold Rush began when a young boy discovered a nugget 25 miles east of Charlotte near what is now known as Reed Gold Mine (definitely worth a visit!).

Around that time, Gold Hill, about an hour northeast of Charlotte, became a bustling gold mining village and home to the largest gold producer in the south. Between two mines in Gold Hill, in the early 1840s, the town produced gold valued at $7-$9 million -- all prior to the California Gold Rush. The Carolinas continued to lead the way in gold production until the start of the Civil War.

Today, Historic Gold Hill offers a number of compelling reasons to visit. Here's why you should check it out:

The Park
The 70-acre Gold Hill Mines Historic Park is home to four preserved gold mines. It also offers a playground, several miles of trails, playing fields, and picnic areas. The park is free and open to the public seven days a week during daylight hours.

The Trail
The Gold Hill Rail Trail runs through the park and by historic structures like a mine shaft, powder house, steam engine, boiler and stone jail. This 2.2-mile (one way), natural surface trail is part of the Carolina Thread Trail and extends from Rowan County, through a forest setting, and into Cabarrus County. This trail is open to foot traffic, bikes and horses. Here's a trail map.

The Village
Taking a stroll down the Historic Gold Hill main street is like stepping back in time. Dozens of old-timey shops offer baked goods, home d├ęcor, handmade jewelry, antiques, pottery, art and more. There are also a handful of restaurants, a general store and an ice cream shop. Shop hours vary, and the town seems to operate mainly Thursday-Sunday. Check the town website before you visit. 

The Events
Historic Gold Hill offers a number of fun events throughout the year, including the Gold Hill Founder's Day festival, ghost tours and family-friendly holiday activities. Check out the upcoming schedule and consider planning your trip around one of these events.

Historic Gold Hill is a not-so-hidden gem. If you haven't been, take some time to enjoy local history and all this small town has to offer.

How to get there:
Gold Hill Mines Historic Park is located at 735 St. Stephens Church Road, Gold Hill, North Carolina. The lot for the park is adjacent to the village main street and an access point for the Gold Hill Rail Trail.

Don't forget to pack:
  • Comfortable shoes: For hiking or strolling along main street
  • Water: Keep hydrated, no matter what you plan to pack in your day
  • Snacks or a picnic: Enjoy lunch at the park
  • Bikes and helmets: If you'd prefer to pedal the trail

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