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Secrets of


by Ray Linville | Photography by Kayla Spivey & Courtesy of Uwharrie National Forest


ant to pan for gold near home? Panning may seem like such a futile exercise; however, at one time the Uwharrie Mountains were a destination for gold hunters. Do adventure seekers there today still search for gold while they are enjoying other outdoor activities? “Yes, they do, but I don’t know how successful they are,” says Terry Savery, recreation program manager at Uwharrie National Forest, land initially purchased in 1931 by the federal government to protect and preserve mixed woodlands of oak and pine. Gold was first found in North Carolina in 1799 only about 30 miles west of the forest. Word that gold was in “them thar hills” spread like wildfire and led to America’s first gold rush, mostly forgotten in the books of history and overshadowed by the great California gold rush

50 | AUGUST 2015

of 1849. However, the chance to strike it rich in the Uwharrie Mountains brought countless prospectors and miners who searched the hills and panned the streams for the sparkling metal. The priceless search for adventure in the Uwharrie still brings in steady streams of outdoor enthusiasts. More popular than gold panning today are camping, picnicking, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, boating and fishing. “We are so close to so many” in the Piedmont, says Deborah Walker, district ranger at the forest. “We’re a day trip for folks who want to avoid the huge expense of getting a hotel room.” The ranger office in Troy has all the material needed to enjoy the forest: trail passes, permits, camping information and brochures, such as one about panning for gold. CONTINUED PAGE 52

OutreachNC August 2015  

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