HUNTING GOLD, MINERALS, FOSSILS AND ARTIFACTS IN ALABAMA by Wayne Ruple Copyright 2013
Chapters Page 1 - Hunting Gold in Alabama Page 26 - Heflin Woman Finds Gold Page 28 - Ruins of Old Gold Mine Page 34 - Minerals and Gems Page 44 - Wetumpka Meteorite Page 46 - Fossil Hunting in Alabama Page 58 - Artifact Hunting Page 65 - Old Historic Sites Page 71 - Confederate Battle Sites Page 75 - The Ghost of Arbacoochee Page 76 - Gold Mine Worker Page 78 - Pine Mountain Gold Mine Page 85 - Alabama Gold Camp Page 80 - Rock Run Page 82 - Fossil Resources
Definitions Used In This Book
Stamp Mill - is a tall building where gold-bearing ore was loaded into the top floor and they were run off of gravity and water power or electricity. The mill crushes the ore and frees the gold from it. When the ore is reduced to fist size, then the mechanical process of a stamp mill could begin. The ore was dumped onto iron grids that separated the large pieces. The smaller ones fell into a hopper below. The larger ones slid to a jaw crusher consisting two metal plates, crushing anything in between. When ore was reduced to a very small material it was fed into the stamp mill. A stamp was a large heavy metal shoe, that was mounted to a handle which crushed the oar. The crushed ore was then washed into a large sluice, which trapped the gold particles. Placer Mining - is where gold nuggets are retrieved from stream beds and rivers by running the material through sluices or water channels. *Readers interested in finding mine locations should obtain good section maps of the counties mentioned as some locations are given in Section, (S), Township, (T) and Range (R) while some are given with GPS coordinates.
Curious Creatures in Alabama Rocks by Charles Copeland Jr. Nature South magazine Vol. 6, Nox. 1 & 35 Rocks & Minerals, Sept-Oct. 1995A Minerals in Alabama by Lewis Dean, AGIS, 1993 Gold Deposits of Alabama, AGS Bulletin B136, 1989 Alabama Gold, AGS Circular 104, 1993 Publications of the Geological Survey of Alabama
Copyright 2014 by Wayne Ruple
efore the California Gold Rush of 1849, the state of Alabama was having a “rush” of sorts with the opening of over 100 mines and the extraction of some 50,000 ounces of pure gold. More than 100 gold mines were opened in Alabama during the 1800’s, 70 of them in the Upper Gold Belt or Dahlonega Belt which runs from Remaining bricks from an old chimney and overgrown weeds are northern Georall that remains of the once bustling town of Arbacoochee gia into Alabama, about 100 miles long and 60 miles wide. The Upper Gold Belt runs from Muscadine in Cleburne County to Hog Mountain in Coosa County. More than 49,500 ounces of pure gold were taken from Alabama’s streams and soil. From 1838 to 1860 the U.S. Mint at Dahlonega, Georgia produced coins from gold mined in Alabama. Gold was first discovered in Alabama in 1832 in Cleburne County in the Arbacoochee Mine. According to historian George W. Yarbrough, “This was probably the most profitable gold mine in Alabama’s history.” Several large nuggets were found and a small community of 5,000 people developed around the mine which played out in 1900. Some mines in the state operated until 1916 and some panning was done during the Depression.
Cleburne County once home to gold boom Ground zero for all the excitement over gold in Alabama was in the communities of Arbacoochee and Chulafinnee. Stories tell of Indians digging for gold and word spread, bringing prospectors to the area. In a 1984 study by Dr. Gary Mills and Lenore Martin, they found that in the 1840s Arbacoochee, about 12 miles south of Heflin, now on CR42, was one of the gold centers of the nation in 1840 giving employment to 600 men. Cleburne County produced 30,000 ounces of gold (over $5 million worth) over 50 yrs. Some say it was the biggest town in Alabama in 1845 with two saloons, a school, two churches, two hotels, two mining supply stores five saloons, restaurant, 20 general merchandise stores, fire department, race track and over 100 homes and tents. But the ”rush” to gold in California in 1848 left Arbacoochee a ghost town and by 1849 most prospectors had left. Some interest was ignited in 1853 when some Cornish miners from Ducktown, TN found gold while searching for copper. An 1860 Federal Population Census showed 77 households in the district which continued to decline over the years and a Birmingham News article reported six buildings remaining in the town in 1936. As many of the buildings were apparently made from bricks on site, they were later torn down to extract the gold from them. Researchers Mills and Martin state that the early settlers in Arbacoochee included the McKees, Goodens, Creamers, Criders, Dothards, Densons, Hiltons, Beasons, Diamonds, Brewers, Hedricks, Prices and a Jerre Smith. John Gooden was the first postmaster. “Of Creamer, a saloon keeper, it is said he sold a drink for as much gold dust as he could pick up from the bar between his thumb and second finger. Since he had a ‘huge, flat thumb’ the drinks may have cost a dollar each” Mills and Martin state. The gold mines covered an area about two miles long and half a mile wide. The mining was done by using pans, shovels, picks, rockers and washing shovels of soil in buckets of water, taken from small steams. Sluices and crude hand mortars were used. “Ore was loosened with picks and carried to “Long Toms” where heavier materials were separated with water and then quick-silver tossed in to attract the flakes of gold” the researchers state in their report “The Creek Indian Town of Arbacoochee.”
Sections around Arbacoochee along CR 42 and State 46 where gold has been found is marked “G (United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 1977)
Mines were located in several sections east of Arbacoochee. Some mining continued up until 1916, but was then stopped by the cutting off of supplies of quicksilver and cyanide by World War I” In 1974 The Birmingham News interviewed Bert Hyatt who had lived at Arbacoochee for 50 years and he told of evidence of the old mines as mounds of dirt piled next to holes near creeks. And as late as the 1930s gold panning provided a livelihood for some Arbacoochee and Chulafinne residents. The report authors noted, “Some managed to pan $300-$440 per day and streams around Chulafinne may have been better than those at Arbacoochee” Early newspaper accounts had this to say: The Cleburne New Era, March 23, 1893: “W. G. Isbelle, who is connected with the Crown Point Gold Mining company, located near Micaville, this county, was in the city Sunday and Monday enroute to Anniston on business. He showed us some samples which he was going to send to St. Louis, Mo. for analysis, which were of the finest quality. He informed us that another vein has just been discovered which is eight feet thick and is turning out exceedingly well. Mr. Isbelle is quite jubilant over the bright prospects.”
The Cleburne New Era, May 4, 1893: “We are reliably informed that the Pinetucky gold mines located about twelve miles south of Heflin is running in full blast and its proprietors are jubilant over its bright prospects. Another gold mine will be opened within 30 days, eight miles south of the city. A stock company composed of capitalist from the north are at the head of the enterprise. The Lucky Joe Gold Mining Company, so we are informed, are putting up house3s and machinery and taking our ore. A ten stamp mill be in operation at the ine in a short time and then our readers will hear some good news. Mr. L.D. Phillips, an expert gold miner, who is superintendent says it is one of the richest mines he ever saw.” The May 7, 1896 issue of The Cleburne New Era had this to say about a find. “There has recently been discovered on the lands of J.J. Boman in Goose Neck Valley, about one and one half miles northwest of the Arabacoochee gold mines, the most extensive vein of gold that has yet been discovered. The vein has shown a width of 30 feet in widest place and 3 feet in narrowest place, it’s depth is not yet known. It is estimated that a twenty stamp mill and a chlorination plant of equal capacity can be kept running almost an unlimited time. Strange to say that this rich depoisit has lain in plain view for a long period of years without being discovered. It was through the efforts of Col. R.E. Merrill that the discovery was made , he has long believed in the existence of this mine3 and with his large experience in connection with the mining interests of this county, does not believe he has been anything equal to it.” The Jacksonville Republican of Jan. 25, 1838 had the following ad, “500 laborers wanted at Arbacoochee gold mines.” The Cleburne New era of July 1, 1899 reported comments made by an old gold miner John G. Tyson who said. “The gold mines of Alabama will soon be the great mecca for the gold miner . . . There are eight veins of good paying ore and work for 40 men for 50 years.” The article added, “One man with four Negroes took out in one day thirteen pounds of clean gold.” Alabama was predicted to become a second Alaska. One early newspaper article quoted local resident Bill Williamson recalling his father and grandfather talking “This was the gold capital of the country at that time.” Prominent mines included the Bennefield property and Eckles property (33*31’55”N, 85*33’45”W), covering 40 acres with a 100-ft. shaft, some of these overlapping into Randolph County.
This is the entrance to the King Gold Mine off CR 24 near Hollis Crossroads in Cleburne County. The site is now privately owned. Several years ago the site was opened to the public with a primitive campground, annual treasure hunts, a prospector’s store and sluice but was not financially productive as a tourist site and was, to our knowledge, closed down.
Map of a section of lower Cleburne County adjacent to Randolph shows three sections in which were located the Lucky Joe Mine, Pritchet property and Ayers prospect.
y. Other sites include the Golden Eagle Mine/Prince Mine with a 75ft. shaft and stamp mill and the Gold Ridge Prospect, 5 miles N of Ranburne. But the Arbaoochee Placer (33*34’19”N, 85*31’4”W) topped them all and according to some was “the most extraordinary gold placer deposit in Alabama, covering 600 acres on top and sides of Gold Hill” near Clear Creek.
Mining pits and “glory holes” are still visible in the half-mile wide, fourmile long gold field near Arbacoochee. Other prospecting sites south of Arbacoochee were the Lucky Joe Mine, the Pritchet property and Ayers Prospect (33*29’48”N, 85*30’6”W) east of the Blake Cemetery. Several sites located east of Arbacoochee included the Middlebrook property (S3T17SR12E), Sutherland property (S34T16SR12E) with a 10stamp mill and , and, northeast of Arbacoochee, the Marion White property (S6T16SR121E). There was extensive placer mining in Arbacoochee and old workings can be found in surrounding sections 14, 15, 16, 22 and 25. The White property was most important as a major source of specimen ore. But by the early 1900s the Arbacoochee mines were becoming history according to a news item in The Huntsville Weekly Democrat of Sept. 17, 1902 which stated, “R.W. Gill, agent for certain persons, has purchased the Arbacoochee gold mines in Calhoun County (now Cleburne), from the Creamer estate. The land consists of 315 acres. Arbacoochee was a town of 2,000 souls in the ‘50s, when the war broke out and it was deserted. The land brought $1,000.” The Chulafinnee district is about 12 miles southwest of Heflin. No remains of the town are visible. Chulafinnee, according to “Cleburne County, Alabama Ghost Towns”, Part of the American History and Genealogy Project “Ghost Towns” Project, was “a gold mining town about 12 miles south of Heflin. During the boom years, it was about half the size of Arbacoochee, but had more brick buildings.” The mine, King Gold Mine, was, according to the project, prospected by one of the King brothers that were part of the family that later founded the famous King Ranch in Texas. The mine consisted of a 2,500 square feet pit. The town was still listed on the state maps as late as 1878. Nearby Chulafinnee Creek and its tributaries were rich in deposits. Tom Neathery with the Alabama Geological Survey told The Anniston Star in 1951 that other gold bearing counties in addition to Cleburne included Randolph, Clay, Tallapoosa and Talladega. Several placers are located in the Chulafinnee area including, Striplin property, the Carr Creek placers on some 240 acres. An old stamp mill was located about three miles west of Chulafinnee. Another was located on the site of the King Mine. This was a large pit.
Sections bearing Chulafinnee placer sites are noted with a “G”. The “G” notes the section and not exact site of placers. King Mine is shown, the section Striplin properties are located as well as Carr Creek placers. (U.S. Dept of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 1977) The Higginbottom property contained pannable gold. Old gold mines are located throughout the section. Other sites include the Clear Creek Placer, 6.5 miles SE of Heflin, long famed for its rich production of gold; the Anna Howe mines (S33T16NR11E) and the Valdor property, all near Verdin Chapel off AL. 46 (map left note section and not exact location) the Hicks-Wise Mine at 110 ft., the deepest shaft in Alabama and Lee Mine.
Randolph County The next strike was in Randolph County. Mining began there in 1835 and continued until 1862 when the mine was destroyed by dynamite. Reportedly farmers living along creeks and the Tallapoosa River near Wedowee panned enough gold to buy fertilizer for their crops. Former President Lyndon Johnson’s grandfather once owned land in the gold field . Gold bearing deposits border along the boundary with Cleburne County. The Gold Ridge property (S4,T17S,R10E) was one site along with the Omaha area. Pinetucky Gold Mine, (S12,T18S,R10E) discovered in 1845, was the site of a 20 stamp mill and was termed a “rich specimen mine.” Panning is good in area creeks along the Tallapoosa River near Wedowee.
Talladega County Talladega County, 35 miles northeast of the geographical center of the state, drew attention because it is in a region where gold is prevalent. During the early 1800’s several gold mines operated in Talladega County. About eight miles from Talladega, near the Waldo community, several mines were opened on 1,180 acres of land. Among them were: Riddle’s Mine, the Chincopino, Woodward and Company, Storey, Warwick, Gold Log, Parson’s Kemp Creek, Long Branch, Garrish and Robb Placer. Located within a heavily wooded area, the mines were along a line from a point northeast of Waldo to a point southwest of Waldo. Gold Log Mine, located to the southwest of Waldo, was the largest in the area. The mill operated by water power which turned a generator and included a jaw crusher, ten 750-pound stamps, two 60-foot amalgamation plates, blanket covered tables and an electric furnace. The mill could process 25 tons of ore in a 24-hour period and reports suggest the mill extracted $3-$80 of gold per ton of ore. The mine opened in 1840 and operated until about 1940. Claude Waid of nearby Talladega recalled the years he worked as a driller in the mine. “The gold was just like a smear on a butterfly wing,” he said. “Very seldom would you find enough as big as a pin head.” The mine used three shifts of eight to 10 workers seeking the bright colors in veins of quartz. Waid said the main tunnel went into the mountain 50 to 75 feet before turning left and descending at a 40-degree angle for 160 to 200 feet under Talladega Creek. The richer ore was exposed in the lower depth of the mine. “We were working down under the creek and had to keep the pumps running,” said Waid. Waid said he made $2.25 per day in the 1930’s working in the mine. Waldo resident Fred McKnight recalled visiting the site as a young man. He said the mine operated until about 1940. McKnight said the mine crossed under Talladega Creek and there was a “pretty good sized room under the creek.” After the mine flooded and was closed, McKnight said, his cousins panned the creek during the Depression and made $5 per day.
Riddle’s Mill Mine, also located near Waldo, was another one of the largest mines in the area. This mine tapped into a white quartz vein running from the northwest to the southeast for about two miles. Assays taken in 1930 showed the quartz ore to contain $20 to $150 in gold per ton. This mine had a depth of a little less than 100 feet. According to E. Grace Jemison in her, “Historic Tales of Talladega,”“They were (in 1888) mining 20 tons of ore per day profitably and there was five distinct veins.” An earlier assay report in 1849 listed $35.97 in gold and 83 cents in silver in each ton mined at the Riddle Mine. The May Virginia Gold Mine was a quarter of a mile from the covered bridge at Riddle’s Mill between Monk’s Run and Garden Branch. The mine was the hub of several smaller mines. A hotel was nearby to accommodate miners who worked in the area mines. The Storey Mine, located on Talladega Creek was discovered by George Hunt in the early 1850’s. He conveyed it to A.G. Storey and Andrew Cunningham. An early historian recorded on April 19, 1843, “Our county is in a high state of excitement from the gold fever that is now raging, it having been discovered in the hillsides, where it is said to be plentiful.” The Storey vein also ran through the Ladd and Gold Hill tracts. By 1889 the Storey Mine was said to have yielded $100,000 in gold. Gold and silver ore was also taken from the Woodward Prospect Mine. Assays taken before 1930 show that $145.83 per ton in gold and $1.58 a ton in silver was mined.
Many of the gold mines in Talladega County were located southeast of Talladega in the Waldo community. Gold bearing rock (dark path on map) could be found from the railroad track through Waldo and southwestward as shown on this 1976 “Mineral Resources of Talladega County, Alabama” map made by the Geological Survey of Alabama.
Men panning for gold at Robb Placer before 1930 made from $2.50 to $50 a day. This site is downstream from the Gold Log Mine.|
This old 1882 Chambers & Moseley sectional and township map of Talladega County shows the location of Storeyâ€™s Gold Mine in the Waldo area between Riddles Mill and Taylorâ€™s Falls.
Most of the land on which these gold mines were located is owned by private individuals, timber companies or corporations. Some of the sites are within the Talladega National Forest. While many of the sites are remote, it is nevertheless very important that you contact the landowner for permission to visit them. Locals in and around the areas mentioned will be able to give you some pointers and perhaps have some stories to tell about particular sites. Donâ€™t forget to check local libraries, city halls and Chambers of Commerce in the counties and cities mentioned. These folks know the areas and people and much valuable information can be obtained from them. Gold can still be panned from the creeks in placer deposits. The creek bed of Talladega Creek should also yield some gold.
Clay County Several gold mine sites dot the hillsides around the Lineville area in Clay County. Begun in the 1830’s, the sites include the Alabama Gold and Mica Company’s 5-stamp mill near Bowden Grove Church, 4 miles SW from Pyriton. Others were the Idaho, Hobbs, Laurel, Chincapina, California and Horn’s Peak mines. In the Pyriton area are many gold mines in the hills west of State Road 9. Also along the east bank of Gold Mines Creek can be found placer gold. Several notable mines were seven miles southwest of Ashland. The Haroll Gold Mine was located in Sec. 34, east of the Bethlehem Church of CR 18 in Clay County, 6 miles NW from Shady Grove. (see map, left). In the Cragford district, located along the east side of Clay county and far west side of Randolph county is the Grizzle Property with surface specimen finds. The mine was famous for free milling gold. The Manning Placer consist of old diggings along tributaries of Crooked Creek where quartz veins produced placer and lode gold.
The Farrar Property, had a deep shaft and crosscut tunnel, worked before 1860 for lode gold. Other sites include the Morris Property, H.S. Bradley Property, Haraldson Mine and the Teakle Property at Wildcat Hollow which had a deep shaft called the Orum Pit which produced lode gold. Adjacent was the Bradford Fraction which also produced lode gold. The Goldberg Mine, was an open cut, inclined pit. The W. D. Mitchellâ€™s Pine Hill Prospect had an 80-foot deep inclined shaft. The Bradford Ridge Mine was the most extensively prospected mine in the district and was the site of a stamp mill. The Dawkins Property, between the forks of White Oak and Wesobulga creeks was also the site of an old 10 stamp mill and produced lode gold saved by amalgamation. In the Tallapoosa River shoal sands some placer gold may be found and also in the gravel bars of Gold Mines Creek south of Erin. Garnets have also reportedly been found there as well. In the western part of the county are old pyrite and gold mines including the Eley Mine, operated in 1899 and the Chinca Pina Property with an open cut, inclined shaft, and several prospect holes. The Shinker Mine was a minor lode gold deposit. The Idaho (Franklin) pits was an open cut 60 ft. deep along a hillside offering free panning gold and garnets. The Hobbs Pit was a shallow excavation, with excellent panning. The Laurel pits was an easy panning site. The Hornâ€™s Peak Mine was well developed with a 5 stamp mill. The California Property was the site of a 10 stamp mill. Gold was obtained by crushing and panning. The Prospect Tunnel was opened for nonexistent copper, but 1930 assays said it was rich in lode gold. South of Lineville in area streams emptying into Crooked Creek, were many rich placers
Tallapoosa County Goldville was an early gold mining community located in north Tallapoosa County during the mid 1840’s which reached a population of around 3,000 with 14 stores, 7 saloons, 2 hotels and was one of the largest towns in the state. Most miners were gone by 1850 following gold strikes in California. You will find Goldville 21 miles north of Dadeville on State Road 49 in an area including some of the state’s well known mines. The district, NE of Alexander City, is about 14 miles long extending southwest to the Hillabee Creek Bridge and flakes can be found in area streams. On the east bank of Hillabee Creek, 8 miles from Alexander City, were the Ulrich pits and Dutch Bend Mine or Romanoff Mine (S8T23NR22E) 6 miles NE from Alexander City, where a 20 stamp mill and cyanide plant was located. A German doctor first found gold while digging a wine cellar. The mines were operated until 1934. The Devil’s Backbone Mining District in south-central Tallapoosa County was perhaps the richest gold-bearing area in the state with placer gold found in all streams draining the area. The district began in SW Tallapoosa County at Martin Dam and followed the shores of Lake Martin to Jackson’s Gap. The Eagle Creek District, 10 miles northeast of the Devil’s Backbone in the central part of the county, beginning in 1840, yielded placer and small vein deposits and the Hog Mountain district was unique in that gold veins were imbedded in granite and the cyanide process was first introduced in the state to obtain the gold ore. Just three miles out of Alexander City out on the Hillabee Bridge Road is the Duncan Property (S16T23NR22E) where quartz veins have provide a good showing of lode gold. Other sites included: *Long Branch Prospect (S21,T20N,R22E) *The Holly Prospect (S10-T21NR22E), active in 1911, southwest of Dadeville, left of the old Dadeville-Young’s Ferry Road. *Gregory Hill Mine area is good for panning. *Mass Prospect (S19,T20N,R22E) *The Terrell Property (S19T22NR23E) was the site of an old stamp mill. *Mahan pits (S4T23NR22E). *Chisholm Property (S9T23NR22E), *Morgan Placer (S22,T23N,R24E) *Tallapoosa Mine, 6 miles ESE of Hackneyville, had a modern mill with a 185 ft. incline shaft. *Stone pits (S34T24N,R22E) are a long ago abandoned lode gold mine.
*Early pits *The Birdsong pits were the first mine in the area to be worked by slave labor between 1840-50. *Jones pits (S5T24N,R23E) had a pyrite mine located nearby. *Griffin Prospect (S19,T23N,R24E) *Hog Mountain Mine or Hillabee Mines (S10 and 15,T24N,R23E) with a 10-stamp mill was 3 mi. west of Goldville and closed by WWI. *The Germany pits (S8T24NR23E) were among the oldest in the county and was a rich lode gold deposit. *Houston pits were developed early and provided rich lode gold. *Greer Property. *Lowe Mine. *Hammock Property was the site of a 10 stamp mill and many pan for gold on the dumps. *Tapley Property with caved-in openings and Jennings Property nearby. *Tim Burnett Lode. *Johnson Property has old tunnels and shafts within a 1.5 mile long quartz outcrop. *The Log pits (S24T24NR23E) had a production of $30,000 in rich “pocket type” gold at the $20 an ounce price. *Hawthorne Mine (S8T24NR23E). *Croft Pits (S34T24NR22E) The Alabama King Mine is located south of Jackson’s Gap and can be reached by turning east on the first timber access road south of U.S. 280. This same road will take the prospector to the Preacher Gunn Prospect. The mine had an incline shaft to 300 ft. and was the site of a stamp mill and surface workings. *Silver Hill Mine is 6 miles NNE from Lake Martin Dam. The Devil’s Backbone area can be reached via roads from Union Church. Sites include the Dent Hill Prospect, .5 mile NE of the Silver Hill Mine, 1 mile NE of Union Church, NW from Hwy. 50 and .25 mile NE of the Dent Hill site is the Farrar Prospect with old pits. Panning in Owl Holler (NW1/4,S4,T20N,R22E), Channahatchee, Peru, Long Branh and Kowiliga creeks might yield some color. Farrow Gold Mining Co. was one of the last to operate in the area. It was above Curry’s Camp on Lake Martin where signs are still visible. Neal Branch Mining Co. was one of the last in the county. Gold mining continued in the county from 1842-1936. All regional watercourse gravels including eastern shore of Lake Martin offer possibilities.
Stewart & Parsons mines were located in Coosa County, west of Weogufka off CR 56 near the Unity community in Section 4 (map above bottom)
Coosa County In Coosa County traces of gold were found in the Flint Hill area in Sec. 17 (see map left) north of Hatchett Creek, and also in the Stewart and Parsons mines near the Unity community west of Weogufka off CR 56.. At Alum Bluff, near the mouth of Hatchett Creek in Sec. 35 the Hatchett Creek Placer Mine produced enough rich gravels to keep 50 men working in 1840.. The old Miller mines also yielded gold in 1840. Excavations were conducted around the southeast limits of Rockford. Other sites were the Carroll and Pole Branches and in the stream bed of GinHouse Branch. Gold may be found in Hatchett Creek south of Rockford, Numeroous prospects were scattered along Weogufka Creek. The Gold Ridge Mine was originally prspected for copper in 1835 but lode gold was later found there and heavy quartz veins showed traces of gold at Flint Hill.
Alum Bluff (In Section 36 map above) near the confluence of Hatchett Creek and the Coosa River, north of Mitchell Dam also produced gold. (Whitsonâ€™s Map of Coosa County, Alabama 1930)
Chilton County The last of the gold fields discovered in Alabama was in Chilton County during the mid 1830â€™s along tributaries of Blue and Chestnut creeks. Nuggets up to 4 ounces have been reportedly found in Blue Creek. Thirteen miles west of Clanton in Sec. 17 are placers along Mulberry Creek including the Franklin Jemison Mine, site of a 10-stamp mill in operation until 1923.. The stream gravel deposits of the Mulberry have long been worked for gold.
Many nuggets have been found in the past along Blue Creek in Chilton County. Blue Creek is NE of Verbena and the community of Cooper as shown in this U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Soil Survey Map from 1911.
Some mines were worked through the end of World War I. In 1935 the Hog Mountain Mine was one of the last to shut down. Hobby panning has continued. Many free nuggets were found up until the 1860’s in the Rippatoe Gold Mine site near Verbena on Blue Creek. Large nuggets have also been found on Rocky Creek.
Elmore County Gold was found in Gold Branch Creek in the northeast corner of the county where Alabama 229 crosses Gold Branch between Kent and Red Hill. Gold Branch flows into the Tallapoosa River about five miles downstream of the dam at Lake Martin.
Most of the mining operations in Alabama ceased during the Civil War but started up again in the 1870’s, peaking at the end of the 19th century. Lewis Dean, with the Geological Survey of Alabama, added, “Gold can be detected in a wide variety of igneous and metamorphic rocks. But you have to have enough to make it worth mining.” According to the Geological Survey of Alabama, “individuals can wholeheartedly enjoy recreation by panning the sands in many of the small streams in the crystalline area of Alabama. One should bear in mind, however, that permission must be obtained from property owners before entering any property. Practically all the land in the Piedmont area is privately owned except for some of the National Forest land where permission should be obtained from the U.S. Forest Service prior to any panning operations.” Local hobby-prospector Scott Hilburn said, on his website, “It is still common to find nuggets from a few grams on up to a couple of ounces, Gold Branch Creek in Elmore County flows into the Tallapoosa River as shown in this 1911 U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Soil Survey Map.
Most of the mining operations in Alabama ceased during the Civil War but started up again in the 1870’s, peaking at the end of the 19th century. Lewis Dean, with the Geological Survey of Alabama, added, “Gold can be detected in a wide variety of igneous and metamorphic rocks. But you have to have enough to make it worth mining.” According to the Geological Survey of Alabama, “individuals can wholeheartedly enjoy recreation by panning the sands in many of the small streams in the crystalline area of Alabama. One should bear in mind, however, that permission must be obtained from property owners before entering any property. Practically all the land in the Piedmont area is privately owned except for some of the National Forest land where permission should be obtained from the U.S. Forest Service prior to any panning operations.” Local hobby-prospector Scott Hilburn said, on his website, “It is still common to find nuggets from a few grams on up to a couple of ounces, in some of the creeks and rivers in Alabama. Some of the areas that I do some prospecting in are Arbachoochee, Chulafinee, Delta, Talladega, Waldo, Delta, Heflin, along the streams of Interstate 20 (I-20) near the Alabama/Georgia State Lines. There are several old mines in those areas, they still produce some gold. . . I am not getting rich. But it makes for a good hobby.”
Private panning operations The Alabama Gold Camp, 10 miles from Lineville in Clay County provides visitors an area where they can camp and pan for gold. They are open seven days a week from 7 a.m.
Prospecting tools you may need A round pointed shovel Two 5-gallon buckets Classifiers – one with large mesh, one with ¼” mesh and one with fine screen. Sluice Gold pan Snuffer bottles - 1/4, 1/2 and a 1 oz vial Coffee can for black sand. Bail scoops A small mattock Rubber boots Two baby food jars, for garnets and other such items.
Recommended websites www.iowagold.com www.mindat.org www.goldmaps.com/east/alabama_gold_mines.htm www.49ermike.com www.goldfeverprospecting.com www.archives.state.al.us/timeline/1800/gold.html http://files.usgwarchives.org/al/cleburne/newspapers/newspape377gnw.txt www.nuggetshooter.com http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/prospect2/prospectgip.html
*”The Gold Country” Tallapoosa County Bicentennial Committee, C.J. Coley and Charles Farrow. *“Goldville” by Betty H. Johnson. *”Circular 104” Geological Survey of Alabama. *”Alabama Gold” by Thomas A. Simpson and Thornton L Neathery. Bulletin 136. *”Gold Deposits of Alabama” by C. Michael Lesher, Robert B. Cook, and Lewis S. Dean. Geological survey of Alabama Bulletin 136, 1989.Information Series 47. *”Mining and Minerals in Alabama” by W. Everett Smith and O. E. Gilbert. Special map 204 *”Mineral Resources of Tallapoosa County, Alabama” by Mirza A.Beg. *“Hog Mountain Gold District, Alabama.” By Charles F. Park, New York: American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, 1935. *“A Preliminary Report on a Part of the Lower Gold Belt of Alabama in the Counties of Chilton, Coosa, and Tallapoosa.” By Phillips, William Battle, Geological Survey of Alabama Bulletin 97, 1892. *”Bulletin #3,” Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama. Geological Survey of Alabama, SG21892 *”The Creek Indian Town of Arbacoochee, Alabama – Final Report,” submitted to Dr. Gary Mills, March 7, 1984 by Lenore B. Martin *”Historic Tales of Talladega” by E. Grace Jemison *”Curious Creatures In Alabama Rocks” by Charles Copeland Jr., Nature South magazine Vol. 6, Nos. 1 & 3 *”Rocks & Minerals,” Sept-Oct. 1995 *Minerals In Alabama by Lewis Dean, AGS, 19931 Gold Deposits of Alabama, AGS Bulletin B136, 1989 Alab ama Gold, AGS Circular 104, 19930Publications of the Geological Survey of Alabama. Note: History information herein was obtained from research of geological records of the Alabama Geological Survey, the U. S. Bureau of Mines, the U.S. Geological Survey. Prior work by Thomas A. Simpson, Thornton L. Neathery and George I. Adams is acknowledged
Modern-day prospectors from nearby Georgia try their luck at panning in a small creek in Arabacoochee
Old miners (Emil Sarlin 1898. ttp://www.gsf.fi/palvelut/info/info-kuvat/vanhatkuvat/huuhdontaU.htm
Workers pose outside the Pinetucky Gold Mine Credit: Ayers
A mine worker poses with early mining equipment
Old Mining Operation
These two men get a birds-eye view atop one of the early mining operations in east Alabama.
Heflin Woman Finding $30,000 in Gold Recalled By Wayne Ruple A “contrary mule” was given the credit for a Heflin woman finding some $30,000 in gold nuggets back in 1938. An article in the Sept. 12, 1938 issue of The Atlanta Georgian told the story of Mrs. John West Johnson of Route 1, Heflin who may have set the record in “Dixie” for her find of 1,088 ounces of gold on her farm in the Beeson’s Mill community. According to the article, “the gold was found in a stonelined, rectangular hole in the ground” covered with “an Indian prospector’s gold pan chiseled from solid rock” where Johnson was picking up rocks to fill gulleys in her field that her mule “Jude” was cranky about crossing. Johnson had been plowing with “Jude” for 23 years and decided she would “humor” him and “as she reached for a rock, she laid hold of the upturned bottom of the gold pan, apparently a smooth, round rock, with Mr. And Mrs. John W. Johnson
just a small part of it showing.” The article adds, “Digging up the big rock, it rolled over to reveal to her amazement the golden secret of 1,088 ounces of nuggets. So astonished was she that she threw up her hands and fell backwards.” The report noted that Johnson defied the pleas of her husband and others to dispose of the gold to the federal mint and instead she reburied her find. She revealed her story to Chester Burgess, operator of a furniture factory in Edwardsville who employed her son and he assisted her in determining the value of her gold and how to exchange it for cash. She told the newspaper that she planned to build a new home and leave several thousand dollars to her son. The story states, “The find was made about three miles form the old gold ghost town of Arbacoochee,” once a thriving gold mining town. The Johnson’s farmed about 50 acres in the area. Johnson’s story along with newspaper clipping and photo was remembered by Sue Johnson of Heflin. Sue said the lady that found the gold was an aunt, by marriage, to her husband Bobby F. Johnson.
Story in The Atlanta Georgian dated Monday, September 12, 1938, tells the story of “Alabama Farm Woman Finds $30,000 in Gold”
Ruins of old gold mines scattered throughout Camp Sequoyah area
Ruins of old gold mine shafts, a two-story plantation home, ruins of a tannery and old homes are scattered over the 1,400 acres now making up the Boy Scouts of America Camp Sequoyah located in southern Cleburne County. Camp Director Robert Carter, who is also a biology instructor at Jacksonville State University, can easily point out the sites tucked away in the forest and along the streams as he talks about hopes of getting some of the areas on the state historical register or recognized in some official way. He says most of the general public is completely unaware of the literal gold mine in their own back yard and about the only ones who know and participate in programs focusing on the history of the area are the Scouts themselves, hundreds of which make Camp Sequoyah their home on an average weekend. Remains of the old Striplin Mine, Carr Creek placers, an old tannery, old home sites and a two-story plantation home are sites of interest and study for the Scouts. With the help of an outside advisor, the Scouts get to actually try their hand at panning for gold and some are lucky enough to find the glitter.
Deep trenches in the ground are areas were old mine tunnels have caved in and trees grown up in
“We are working on trying to get this recognized as a state historic site,” said Carter. “The old mine site has pits in the ground with visible shafts and timbers.” All that remains of the old plantation site are a couple stacks of hand-made bricks collected on the site, a massive magnolia tree and a area of pines, once the site of the actually home. Down the hill in a deep ravine are four large rock pillars believed to be the location of an old tannery and scattered throughout the acreage are old home sites – some
with remains of old wells and chimneys. Carter said the Scouts earn an archeology badge by digging around the site of the old tannery where they collect pieces of old glass, nails and ceramics. As a biologist, Carter is quick to note that the old home sites can be detected by the Chinese privet growing in groups throughout the woods. Included is the 1,400 acres of camp property is an 80-acre lake, once fields tilled by the farmers living in the scattered homes.
The lake, according to Carter, has produced some state record catches of bass and catfish. Other historic sites in the area include the Chulafinee Methodist Church built in the 1800’s and an old log cabin down CR 11 believed to be the oldest house in the county. An old grist mill was also located near the junction of US 431 and Chulafinnee Creek. And there was the original Indian village of Chulafinee. Harry Merrill, with Camp Sequoyah, says you can tell much about the area by the size/age of many of the old trees. At what is believed to be the actual Striplin Mine site, Merrill says there is an area about the size of six football fields that contains old diggings, pits and deep trenches. “In the winter time you can really see it,” he said. Merrill also said he would like to see interpretive trails throughout the old mine site along with a rocker box and sluice box to illustrate how gold was extracted. “It is amazing what was done here without the heavy equipment we have today,” Merrill said. “The kids (Scouts) they get a kick out of coming out here and panning and finding some specks of gold but it is a real learning experience for them and something they remember for a lifetime,” Merrill added. “The biggest thing is just the fun of doing it.” Merrill said the Striplins are believed to have bought the property in 1850 and built the two-story plantation home in 1855. The home was torn down in 1972. Inside were massive 12X12 hand-hewn beams. And, what is now mostly heavy woods is believed to have been open fields in those days. Merrill said large runs of stacked rocks can be found in the area indicating field enclosures or where rocks were removed from plowed fields and stacked out of the way
Old gold mine near Goldville
Modern day prospectors try their luck in the Arbacoochee area of Cleburne County. At its peak the town had a population of almost 5,000 who were drawn to the area for the abundant gold.
Old bricks, fallen homesite foundations and other remains are all that can be seen of the community and old mines located on the southern county boundary of Cleburne County.
Minerals and Gems Alabama has a rich history related to minerals including gold and particularly iron when the first iron furnace was built near Russellville in Franklin County in 1818. Gold was later discovered in 1831 in Chilton County along tributaries of the Coosa River. In addition to gold, Alabama is also home to about 175 other minerals including diamonds, garnets, quartz, bauxite, talc and kaolinite. Less exciting but equally important mining industries developed as early as 1880 with dolomite, limestone, marble, and sandstone. The state also produced barite, mica, graphite, pyrite and phosphate.
Sites to check, listed by county
Bibb County – Check the county gravel pits along the Cahaba River for petrified wood and the area limestone quarries may yield calcite. Five miles north of Centreville on AL 5 is a chert quarry where chalcedony and barite crystals may be found. Go another five miles north to find fluorite and calcite crystals. Centreville, siliceous gemstones in area stream gravels and road cuts. Adjacent to the Cahaba River at Sixmile Creek, barite, crystals of fluorite, sulfur, limonite, calcite. Blount County – The Compton Mine on Red Mountain, just southwest of Remlap, produced hematite and was the only extensive mining in Blount County. One mile west on of Blountsville on CR 47 are several prospecting pits for agate, carnelian, sardonyx and chalcedony Calhoun County – Angel Station area, galena, go 3 mi. W of Jacksonville on AL 204 to junction with CR 73, turn South (left) go 1.1 mi. to Cedar Springs Church, junction with Cedar Springs Drive, turn W (right) onto Cedar Springs Drive, go .9 mi. to crossroads, with CR 63 and Cedar Springs School. Continue W through crossroads .3 mi, turn SW (left) on gravel rd, go 200 yards, old rd on right, old lead mine 300 ft. up rd. Chambers County - 7 miles NE of Opelika at US 280 and AL 147 – tourmaline
Cherokee County - Go northeast of Cedar bluff 3.6 miles on State Road 9 and one-half mile to the left to search in a field for fluorite and quartz crystals. Remember to get permission of landowner. Cedar Bluff along shores of Weiss Reservoir, rock crystals Gilley prospect 11 mi. south of Centre, green fluorite. Indian Mountain area northeast of Piedmont, in old iron-ore pits, beraunite, cacoxenties, churchite, dufrenite, jarosite, kidwellite, leucophosphite, phosphosiderite, rockbridgeite, strengite, variscite. Little River area 8.5 mi. north of Center near falls of Little River, schrotterite on black slate. 4 mi. south of Rock Run, in iron-ore pits, beraunite, cacoxenite, dufrenite, strengite, wavellite. Leesburg, north to Lowe Farm, amethyst. Chilton County – Mountain Creek 8 mi. southeast of Verbena, goethite Clarke County - agates and chalcedony are also prevalent in road cuts, clay banks and stream gravels of tributaries leading into the Tombigbee River. Clay County - The Highland Community in the Pyriton area was the site, in the 1890’s, of an old mining town where several companies mined pyrite or “fool’s gold” in a three-mile radius. Garnets and turquoise have reportedly been found near Erin in the Pyriton area. Several old mica mines are in the northwest section of the county and manganese and rhodonite can be found where State Road 9 crosses Ketchependrakee Creek. Green quartz can be found along Buzzard Creek and its tributaries.’ In the hills running along State Road 9 are many old mine sites where beryl, feldspar, quartz crystals and muscovite mica can be found. The old M&G Mine near Ashland has also produced apatite, garnets and smokey quartz. The old Gibson Prospect area has produced garnets and the Shirley Prospect - garnets, kyanite, magnetite and white tourmaline. You may be able to find quartz crystals in cuts along both sides of Pleasant Grove road and the mine sites around Cragford have yielded arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite, galena and pyrite. Beryl, kyanite and tourmaline have been found in the dumps of the old Delta Mine at Delta. Turquoise has been found around Erin in railroad cuts.
Gem apatite, beryl, feldspar, garnets, tourmaline and muscovite mica are found in and around the old mica mines in the area. On the east bank of Gold Mines Creek look for garnets, actionlite and chlorite in stream rocks and side boulders. An abundance of garnets and turquoise has been found in the Bob Lee Mine, 2.5 miles north of Pleasant Grove Church. Look for chalcanthite, chalcopyrite, garnets, pyrite and turquoise in the Stringfellow Prospect area in Sec. 19, T20S, R7E. Broad Arrow Mine 1 mile southeast of Ashland, ilmenite in stream .sediments. Coleta 10 miles west of Ashland, chalcopyrite, axurite, bismuthinite, bismutite, malachite, molybdenite, paratacamite in the Hatchet Creek prospect. Erin 3 miles west of Pyriton,barite, turqauoise, wavellite. Turquoise and wavellite found in railroad cuts. Gold Mines Creek , .5 mile of Erin, turquoise. South, along the west side of the creek are many mica mines and prospects containing gem apatite, golden and green beryl, albite, microcline, rhodolite, almandite garnets, muscovite mica and tourmaline. On the east bank of the creek, in boulders, are actinolite, chlorite, olivine, pyrope garnets, gold, sillimanite. Delta Mine, on dumps, beryl, kyanite, tourmaline. Smith No. 1 Mine, beryl, feldspar crystals, garnets, kyanite, black tourmaline. Cragford, area mines, arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite, galena, pyrite. Garrett Pyrite Prospect , S17,T21,S.R6E, numerous pits along the creek, pyrite. Bob Lee Mine, abundant garnets. Garnet - Erin-Pyriton area, go across Atlantic Coast Lne RR at Erin, 2.9 mi,, stop at top of hill, weathered garnet scattered on surface Azurite - Coleta community, 11 mi SE from Talladega on AL 77, turn S on Clay County 7, go 3.9 miles to Coleta Community, turn L, copper minerals occur in road cut on E side of rd .25 mi. S of where Hatchett Creek crosses Clay County 7. Along railroad at Erin and at Hobb’s Farm – turquoise Erin – at top of hill 3 miles S along railroad – garnet Ashland – Hurst Mica Mine – garnets Cleburne County - along Highway 10 near the Hightower Community and around Micaville can be found feldspar, mica and malachite.
Garnets and muscovite have been found in the Pinetucky Gold Mine area (S12T18SR10E). Kyanite can be found in outcrops along Dynne Creek and a variety of minerals and gems such as beryl, garnets, hornblende crystals, kyanite, quartz crystals and tourmaline can be found at the old Jim Flemming Mine. Hollis Crossroads is another beryl site. Go southeast 1.5 miles on U.S. 431, left on Highway 4199 for one-half mile, left on a dirt road (possibly paved now) one-half mile and search in a ditch on the left side of the road. Garnets, kyanite and quartz can also be found around the Morris Mica Mine in Sec. 21/T17S/R10E. Woods Cooper Mine site in Sec. 35 is a site for chalcocite, azurite, malachite, silver, chalcopyrite, copper, cuprite, garnets and pyrites. First Wood’s prospect 3 miles west of Stonehill Mine, chalcopyrite, chloritoid, kyanite, magnetite, malachite, staurolite, tourmaline, turquoise. Micaville 11 miles south of Heflin, apatite, beryl, kyanite, muscovite, orthoclase, tourmaline in large pits and mines. Smith Mine 2.5 km north of Stonehill Mine, chalcopyrite in copper prospect. Stonehill Mine 8 km east of Micaville, actinolite, antlerite, arsenopyrite, azurite, brochantite, chalcanthite, chalcocite, chalcopyrite, copper, covellite, cuprite, garnet, hornblende, magnetite, malachite, pyrite, pyrrhotite, sphalerite. Turkey Heaven Mountain 16 km southeast of Heflin, gold, blue kyanite, ilmenite crystals. Hollis Crossroads area, 2.1 mi E of Hollis Crossroads on U.S. 431, e of the Tallapoosa River bridge, turn s, go .2 me., bear r to end of pavement, turn left 0.4 miles along river road, exposure of garnet schist next .5 mi. Tallapoos River, Hollis Crossraods area, 1.5 mi. e of Hollis Crossroads on U.S. 431, turn L on SACP RD 4199, go .6 mi, turn L on dirt road, go .6 mi. beryl bearing pegmatite in raod ditch on left side. 1.5 miles W of Micaville on CR 10 – tourmaline Hollis Crossroads – along river road just past Tallapoosa River bridge, turn S – garnets Coosa County - Look for golden beryl one mile northeast and threefourths miles southwest of Hissop which is east of Rockford. Take the Crewsville road northeast for one mile, bear left on a secondary road to a Y and continue to bear left for three-fourths mile to the site and look for aquamarine, gem beryl and white quartz.
Many old mines are around Rockford and northeast toward Goodwater where cassiterite, feldspar crystals, muscovite, tourmaline and quartz has been found. If you dig in the dumps of the Pond Mine you may also find feldspar, garnets, moonstone, quartz and tourmaline. This site can be found west of Hissop one mile on Highway 22. Quantities of albite, apatite, cassiterite, epidote, garnets, lepidolite, rock crystal, sillimanite, topaz and black tourmaline have been found at the Millsite Tin Mine. In Sec. 14, T22N, R18E just one and one-half miles west of the Bentley Tin property is a site which has yielded cassiterite and tourmaline. Beryl can be found in the Pentonville area, five miles south of Rockford on U.S. 231. Turn west off U.S. 231 at the Pentonville crossroads and travel 2.1 miles to search for beryl on the south side of the road McAllister deposit 1.5 miles west of Rockford, albite, apatite, autunite, beryl, cassiterite, columbite-tantalite, lithiophorite, muscovite, pyrite, spodumene, tapiolite, topaz, vivianite, wodginite, zircon. Thomas prospect 3 miles east of Rockford, beryl. Beryl - Pentonville area, 5.8 mi. S of Rockford. Go W from Pentonville, crossroads 2.1 miles on paved road, Williams prospect, southside of rd. Williams 4 miles south of Rockford, barbosalite, bermanite, beryl, birnessite, cacoxenite, ferrisicklerite, heterosite, hureaulite, leucophosphite, lipscombite, p;hosphosiderite, rockbrigeite, stewartite, strunzite, triphylite. Hissop at Thomas Prospect – beryl Pentonville – Williams Prospect – beryl Rockford – Hissop Tin Mines – tourmaline Crenshaw County – Iron ore pits ,5 mile west of Glenwood, 4 miles north of Rutledge in the Luverne area, goethite. DeKalb County – Klondike Mine 6 miles northeast of Fort Payne, gibbsite and kaolinite. Area iron ore deposits yield hematite. Kaolin 3 miles northeast of Valley Head, kaolinite beds mined for several years. Will’s Valley, fuller’s earth. Etowah County - from the junction of U.S. 411 and U.S. 278, go 1.7 miles north on U.S. 411, turn east onto County Road 26, go 4.9 miles to Union Hill Methodist Church, turn north and proceed one-half mile to find small quartz crystals in a field on the right side of the road. Ask permission of landowner. Gadsden area, sections of Red Mountain mined for hematite.
Greasy Cove 7 miles west of Attalla, hematite mines. Walnut Grove 11 miles west of Attalla, manganite and pyrolusite prospects. Franklin County – Carnelian can be found in gravel pits 2 mi. N of Phil Campbell on US 43. Jackson County - Look for agates and jasper in river and tributary gravels, dry washes, hillsides, banks and cliffs in the Paint Rock area. Go north on Highway 65 to collect. Lee County – Rock crystals have been found behind the Boy Scout Camp SE of Opelika Limestone County – Elk River 16 km northwest of Athens, apatite. Quartz nodules may be found 18.5 miles NW of Athens on Hwy. 99 to Good Springs, then S on Hwy. 26, 1 mile to Dobbins Branch and collect in field downstream. Lowndes County – Sandy Ridge 22 km southeast of Haleyville, smectite, biotite, cristobalite and muscovite. Macon County – Uphapee Creek 6 km northeast of Tuskegee, pyrite, quartz. Madison County – Alum Cave Hollow 13 km northwest of New Hope, halotrichite. Pike County – Iron ore pits south of Troy and goethite in iron ore pits around Brundidge. Randolph County – Blakes Ferry 14 km west of Wedowee, biotite Shelby County – Shelby pits 8 km south of Columbiana, goethite. St. Clair County - At the Prescott Siding near Brompton, diamonds were found. Hebble Mine 5 km south of Ashville, gibbsite, kaolinite. Talladega County - Thirteen miles south of Talladega on Highway 77 look for azurite, hematite, malachite, pyrite and uranium minerals in road cuts. Many mines are in Sec. 16, 20, T19S, R6E containing chalcopyrite, enargite, magnetite and pyrite. Calcite, onyx and steatite can be found in limestone outcrops in the Winterboro area. Gantts Quarry 3 km southwest of Sylacauga, calcite, pyrite crystals. Gold Log Mine 11 km southeast of Talladega, calcite, chalcopyrite, enargite, gold, magnetite. Tallapoosa County - In the Wind Creek area near Alexander City in are large deposits of actinolite, bronzite, clevelandite, epidote crystals, feldspar crystals, specular hematite and quartz.
There are many mineral-rich areas around the eastern shore of Lake Martin. In the Kidd Mine near Dadeville are garnets, pyrite, quartz crystals and seircite. Garnets may also be at the Doc Heard Prospect near Camp Hill. Sapphires and margarite have been found around Dudleyville in area mine dumps north of Dadeville. Muscovite and garnets have been found in the Berry Mine in Sec. 12, T22N, R23E just south of U.S. 280. Dutch Bend Mine 6 miles northeast of Alexander City, barite, chalcopyrite, fluorite, malachite, marcasite, pyrite. Hog Mountain Mine 3 miles west of Goldville, andaluisite, arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite, pyrrhotite, sericite, sphalerite. Tallapoosa Mining Company Prospect .5 mile northwest of Dudleyville, chromite, churchite, margarite. Our Town, 5.5 miles S at Wind Creek â€“ garents, quartz Tuscaloosa County - Stream gravels and strip mines in the Brookwood area and iron mines and pits along the Black Warrior River have yielded agates, chalcedony, jasper, kyanite, steatite, vivianite, hematite, quartz crystals and siderite. Gem quality silicified wood is found in area gravels south of Tuscaloosa. East Giles pit 1 mile north of Woodstock, goethite, siderite, beraunite, cacoxenite, gypsum, garosite. Goethite .25 mile north-
Three Miners In Chilton County Panning For Gold
Additional Sites for Gold & Minerals *Lake Martin - on the Dadeville side, the modern day prospector will find the remains of the Blue Hill Mine. While many of the old tunnels are filled with water, there may be a few empty and when water is low there are visible remains of the old stamp mill. Some prospectors have had some luck panning the banks during the winter when water levels are down. *Additional Goldville District mines include Early pits - SW1/4526.T24N,R22E Stone pits - S34,T24N,R22E Chisolm prospect - S9,T223N,R22E Duncan prospect - S16,T23N,R22E Mahan pits - S4,T23N,R22E Croft pits - S34,T24N,R22E Tallapoosa Mine - SW1/4526,T24N,R22E Tine Burnett Lode - SE1/4S24,T24N,R22E Houston pits - S18,T24N,R23E Hawthorne Mine - S8,T24N,R23E Goldville pits - S8,T24N,R23E Germany pits - NW1/4NE1/4S9,T24N,R23E Lowe Mine - NW1/4NE1/459,T24N,R23E *Pinetucky Mine - also known to produce garnets, quartz and muscovite. *Milner area - produces blue apatite and a lot of tourmaline. This area is north of Milner going toward Pinetucky. You may find garnets, apatite and rhodolite in this area. *Kidd Mine - near the Dadeville area where garnets and quartz crystals may be found. *Doc Heard Prospect - near Camp Hill are garnets, smoky quartz and tourmaline. *Dudleyville - several interesting sites in this area including the north fork of Sandy Creek where sapphires may be found and the Berry Mine where garnets may be found.
*Clay County - Don C. East (email@example.com) wrote a very nice overview of the history of gold in east Alabama and particularly in Clay County in a story “THAR’S GOLD IN THEM THAR CLAY COUNTY HILLS” for the Clay County Chamber of Commerce website. East noted that a German immigrant was diggina s wine cellar near Hillabee Creek in 1842 when he discovered a vein of gold ore. This became known as the “Dutch Bend Mine” and other sites included the Goldville and Hog Mountain areas. Goldville reached a population of 3,500 people in 1843 but became a ghost town almost overnight while Arabacoochee in Cleburne County reached a population of over 4,000. East pointed out the ups and downs of gold mining in the area: Great Depression – revived interest among unemployed locals, some of whom earned $2 per day by panning. East said major formations in the area included: Ashland, Talladega, Wedowee (largest and richest), Pickneyville, and Hillabee. Major districts with their mining operations were: Arbacoochee – 12; Pinetucky – 9; Chulafinnee – 5; Riddle’s Mill – 3; Idaho – 11; Cragford – 9; The Devil’s Backbone – 16; Eagle Creek – 5; Goldville -14; Hog Mountain -1; Chilton County – 5 and Coosa County - 8 *Paint Rock River Valley - Turn north at the town of Paint Rock off HWY 72 onto HWY 65. The best area is around Trenton. Search both sides of the mountains and the gravel bars in the streams for red carnelian. *Geodes - near Athens in North Alabama at the intersection of I 65 and HWY 72. Most geodes are located west and south of town. *Randolph County - Pinetucky may be reached from U.S. 431 south of Hollis Crossroads by taking Cleburne County Road 10 to Micaville and then south on CR 29. Mine Number One was located just west of CR 29 where it junctions with CR 202 at Pinetucky. The second mine was located some 3000 feet westward but can only be reached by traveling south on CR 29 and taking a right onto CR 204 for about 4,000 ft with the site on the right hand side of the road. *Talladega National Forest - District Ranger Kimberly Bittle says, “recreational gold panning along with ‘rockhounding’ is permitted on the national forests in Alabama. . . Taking a handful of rock, mineral or petrified wood specimens from the surface of National Forest lands is permissible,” (6) and no fee is required but anyone planning to pan should contact the local district office and obtain a free permit. The district office in Heflin issues about 50 permits per year, however to pan in the Clay/Talladega por-
tion of the TNF you should visit the Talladega District Office in Talladega. Prospectors may want to check the shoal sands of the Tallapoosa River and the gravel bars of Gold Mines Creek south of Erin. Gold has also been panned south of Lineville in area streams emptying into Crooked Creek. Coosa County Credits for information about gold in Alabama
The Cleburne New Era, March 23, 1893. The Cleburne New Era, May 1896 The Creek Indian Town of Arbacoochee, Alabama, Final Report, March 7, 1984 Lenore B. Martin. Historical and Genealogical Archive, Anniston-Calhoun County Public Library, Lenore Martin Collection Claude Waid in an interview with author in Waldo in the early 1980s E. Grace Jemison, â€œHistoric Tales of Talladegaâ€?, Strode Publishers, 1984 Press release/handout, Kimberly Little, Shoal Creek District Ranger, Talladega National Forest. Heflin, Alabama. http://jovikri.tripod.com/public-index.html Dr. Eugene Smith, Alabama Geological Survey Bulletin #1, 1886
Man weighing gold (Scott D. Sullivan - Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-2.5)
The Wetumpka Meteorite Most geologists agree a large meteorite struck Alabama 80 million years ago leaving a vast horseshoe shaped crater near what is now Wetumpka. The massive crater was discovered in 1972 by two geologists with the Alabama Geological Survey. There are several theories regarding the meteorite and some believe the space object may have splashed down in what was once an inland sea while others tend to think the meteorite impacted into solid ground. Scientists say sea levels rose worldwide, about the time the impact is believed to have happened, causing one-third of the present land area to be under water. Dr. David King with the Auburn University Department of Geology believes an extremely high amount of energy was released - between 100 - 1000 megatons - many times greater than any atomic weapon test. The impact is believed to have been equivalent to an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.4 - 9.0 on the Richter scale. The infrared flash-burn area would have covered almost 3,000 square miles and the shock wave would have destroyed an area of almost 4,000 square miles. Rock and debris would have probably covered a radius of over 22 miles from the center of the strike.
This map s h o w s Wetumpka and the crater site to the right, creating a crescent shape
Dust from the impact could have affected global climate for decades. I don’t know if pieces of the meteorite have been found but I assume there might be good possibilities. More information is available through Auburn University’s Department of Geology web site and an avid detectorist might wish to ask landowners in the impact area for permission to check property. If the meteorite was composed of metallic material I would think a detector would certainly react. The story itself is certainly an interesting one and event which we hope does not occur in another few million years. The area, 80 million years ago, is believed to have been covered by 100-325 feet of water as almost one-third of the Earth’s surface was covered by water and what is now known as the Gulf of Mexico actually extended farther northward into Alabama and the Wetumpka area was part of the continental shelf. At the time of the impact, during the Cretaceous period, dinosaurs roamed portions of what is now Alabama. The energy released during impact has been estimated to be between 100 and 1000 megatons creating an earthquake magnitude of 8.4 to 9.0 on the Richter scale. The infrared flash-burn area would have covered 2,895 square miles and the atmospheric shock wave would have devastated an area from 830 to 3,840 square miles. Scientists have speculated the impact as “the greatest disaster in Alabama history with atmospheric dust contamination that affected global climate for decades.” For more details go to: www.auburn.ledu/academic/science_math/ geology/docs/wetumpka
Downtown Wetumpka (Rivers Langley; http://www.phoenixrivers.blogspot.com. Saverivers)
Geologic time chart showing eons, eras and periods in millions of years. (USGS.gov)
Fossil Hunting In Alabama Some 325 million years ago a large portion of Alabama was covered by a warm, shallow sea containing many organisms left behind today as fossils A variety of life can be found in the fossil record in Alabama including relatives of starfish and sea urchins. These include sea lilies or crinoids, filter-feeding animals resembling plants Echinoids looked similar to â€œsand dollarsâ€?. Others included bryozoans and corals.
Fossils of various shelled organisms can be found and include brachiopods, pelecypods and gastropods. Others include clams, sponges, shark’s teeth, trilobites and fossils of land plants, lepidodendron, calamites, stigmaria and giant horsetails. Bryozoa can be found in rocks of the Ordovician Period and are common as are corkscrew-shaped fossils of Archimedes. Brachiopods are small bivalved animals that live on the sea floor. They are similar to pelecypod or clam shells.They lived in the Paleozoic Period seas from the Cambrian Period until the Permian Period. Pelecypods include clams, oysters, mussels and scallops that lived in freah or salt water. They began in the Ordovician Period and were abundant in the oceans in Mesozoic and Cenozoic periods. Cretaceous and Tertiary age rocks in south Alabama contain pelecypods. Fossils of Gastropods (snails, whelks, conchs and slugs) can be found in Alabama. They lived during the Cambrain and Paleozoic eras and are found in Tertiary Period rocks Nautiloid and ammonite fossils from Paleozoic times can also be found in Creataceous Period rocks.. Trilobites were extinct from the close of the Paleozoic Era. Some can be found the rocks of the early Paleozoic Era in Alabama. Blastoids or sea buds occur in rocks from the Mississippian Period in north Alabama. Crinoids or sea lilies were abundant in the Paleozoic Era but ranged from the Ordovician to Recent. Fossil sand dollars, heart urchins and sea urchins occur in Cretaceous and Tertiary rocks in Alabama. Graptolites or “double-edged saw blades” and are abundant in Cambrian and Ordovician rocks of Alabama. Three counties are renowned for their abundance of primitive whalelike fossils. Clarke, Choctaw and Washington have gained recognition for zeuglodon fossils. According to Dr. Doug Jones, former executive director of the University of Alabama Museums and professor of Geology at UA, “In southwest Alabama one finds the world’s most complete record of marine Tertiary rocks containing fossils reflecting the diversity of lifeforms of that time, including the famous zeuglodon.” The “Father of British Geology” Sir Charles Lyell was attracted to the state in the mid-1840’s because of its abundance of fossils. Through time the shallow sea gave way to the land mass we now know as Alabama and about 10,000 years ago, during the Ice Age, the state was much cooler and was home to mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloths, giant beaver - five feet tall and weighing 200 pounds,
camel, elk, giant bison, caribou, giant armadillos the size of Volkswagen Beetles, giant tortoises, saber-toothed cats called Smilodon, extra large bears, wolves, jaguars, tapirs and peccaries. At that time in history the state was heavily wooded with some plains and prairies serving as home for these creatures. Always get permission from landowners before going onto private property.
Typical echinoid fossil
Crinoid columns may range from small, as shown, to an inch or two in length.
Some good sites, listed by county, age, type, location
Autauga, House Bluff, in fields along back of town along Alabama River, Inoceramus, leidon bones sharks teeth, fine shells Barbour County â€“ Cretaceous, pelecypods, in roadcut on west side of intersection of CR 79 connecting Bataesville and White Oak with US 82. Bibb County - Aldrich, S31T24NR11E, 33d1.14mN,87d0.67mW and S6T23NR11E, 33.0048N, 87.0111W, Upper Cambrian, cryptozoon., 33.0079N,87.0055W; NE1/4S20T24R11E, fossils; SE1/4SE1/4S31T24R10E in area limestone quarries. Brierfield, along Mahan Creek, Upper Cambrian, Cryptozoon. Blount County - Mississippian, crinoid stems and plates, railroad cuts around Blount Springs. Blastoids in area quarries. Ordovician, bryozoans and brachiopods, in north end of roadcut on west side of AL 75, 3.3 miles north of the intersection of U.S. 231 and AL 75 in Oneonta. Blastoids in area quarries. Butler County - Eocene, pelecypods, gastropods, roadcut on east side of U.S. 31, 4.5 miles south of intersection of U.S. 31 and Butler County 106 south of Georgiana
Cherokee County - S32T6R11E near AL/GA state line, fossiliferous iron ore. Cedar Bluff, along Coosa River. Cambrian, trilobites. Cedar Bluff, in outcrops along Coosa River, Upper Cambrian, agnostids, tricrepicephalus. Centre,, in flint nodules in tilled fields, Cambrian, sponges and trilobites. Choctaw County - Eocene, corals and shark teeth, roadcut on south side of Hwy. 12/84, 0.6 mile east of Isney. Pelecypods, in roadcuts in hillside above Souwilpa Creek, 4 miles south of Gilbertown on CR 17 also in S7T11NR4W, ostrea in gray sand outcropping banks of creek. Clarke County -Eocene, discoid forminifers, roadcut on east side of Clark County 15, five miles southeast of the intersection of Clarke County 15 and U.S. 43 at Jackson. Eocene, pelecypods and gastropods, in roadcut on hillside above south bank of Bashi Creek, about 4 miles south of Morvin on east side of AL 69. Eocene, pelecypods and echinoids, in roadcuts on each side of U.S. 84 between Grove Hill and Gosport, 3 miles west of Pigeon Creek and also 2.6 miles west of Grove Hill. Clarkesville, S23T9NR2E in creek bottom and in white limestone on hillsides, Eocene, fossils, zeuglodon bones. , Stave Creek, in sands at creek level in S8t7nr2e-s9t7nr2e E o cene fossils, mollusks Colbert County - Mississippian, corals, bryozoans, brachiopods and blastoids, roadcuts on west side of U.S. 43, 5.9 miles south of the intersection of U.S. 72 and 43 in Tuscumbia Mississippian, corals and brachiopods - east side of county road 33, 2.5 miles south of Barton. Fox Trap, Roadcut on side of a small hill, NW1/4SE1/4Sec31T5SR10W. Upper Mississippian, gastropods, bivalves, echinoderms, crinoids, blastoids, pentremites, bryozoa, archimedes, brachiopods, 34d34m26sN,87d37m23sW Covington, Andalusia, just below Point-A dam on Conecuh River, Eocene shark teeth, fish teeth, snake vertebra Dale County - Pelecypods, gastropods and corals beneath AL 134 bridge across Hurricane Creek, .1 mile west of the intersection of AL 123 and AL 134, intersection is 1.2 miles north of Newton Dallas, Carlowville, At bridge over Snake Creek on Carlowville-Snow Hill Road Cretaceous, ostre, Selma, Upper Cretaceous, marine, fossils in chalk beds beneath the Jefferson Davis Avenue bridge over Valley Creek
DeKalb County - In roadcuts along I-59, Ordovician-Devonian, fossils, invertebrates Wills Valley, NE1/4SE1/4s4t5r10e crinoid stems in clay at Montague Mines, NW1/4S9T6R9E - fossiliferous chert in black shale, SE1/4NE1/4S17T7R8E, SE1/4sw1/4s9T7R8E, crinoidal columns. Etowah, Attalla, On W bank of Wills Creek in SW1/4NE1/4S4T12R5E, fossils in thick flaggy sandstone Franklin County - Mississippian, corals and bryozoans, in roadcut on west side of U.S. 43, 3 miles north of the Franklin County Courthouse in Russellville. SW1/4SW1/4S35t6r12w, fossiliferous limestones, well preserved crinoid stems, blastoids, corals, brachiopods; SW1/4sw1/4s16t6r11w fossiliferous limestones, well preserved crinoid stems, blastoids, corals, brachiopods, coral, zaphrentis Greene, Clinton, 2.5km SE of State 14 (N32 54â€™ / W87 59â€™) at Trussels Creek, Cretaceous, vertebrates, Archaeolamna, Scapanorhynchus Madison County - Corals, bryozoans and brachiopods, roadcut on Monte Sano Mountain along U.S. Loxonema from 431, 4.9 miles east of the intersection of U.S. 231 and the Class U.S. 431 south of Huntsville. The drive down U.S. 431 Gastropoda south toward Guntersville may yield additional finds as work continues on that highway.
Shark teeth varies in size
Mississippian, corals, bryozoans, brachipods, in roadcut on Monte Sano Mountain along U.S. 431, 4.9 miles east of the intersection of U.S. 231 and U.S. 431, south of Huntsville. Marengo County – Cretaceous, pelecypods, in roadcut on west side of AL 25, 2 miles northeast of Dayton Cretaceous, pelecypods, gastropods, cephalopods, in roadcuts on each side of Marengo County 53, 1 mile northeast of Thomaston. Eocene age fossils, pelecypods, in roadcuts on county road between Sweetwater Trilobite and Half Acre, 3 –5 miles northwest of Sweetwater. Eocene age fossils, pelecypods, in roadcut 2.5 miles southeast of Half Acre at the intersection of CR 7 connecting Half Acre and Sweetwater with Marengo County 17. Montgomery County - Pelecypods. Cretaceous age fossils, pelecypods, in roadcut on the east side of U.S. 331 south, .3 mile north of Strata Church of Christ. Cretaceous age fossils, pelecypods, in roadcut on west side of US 331 south, .7 mile south of Strata. Lepidodendron Morgan County - Bryozoans, brachiopods and blastoids. Mississippian age fossils, bryozoans, brachiopods, blastoids, in roadcut on south side of AL 36, 1 mile west of Lacey’s Spring. Mississippian age fossils, brachiopods, on the east end of a roadcut through Calamite or giant “horsetail” Trinity Mountain about 4.5 miles west of Decatur on AL 24.
Tuscumbian, in power line right of way at NW1/4S2T6SR4W, Upper Mississippian Upper, ctenacanthus S15T6R2W S10T6R2W in a NE trending limestone, fish skeletons. Stenson, SE1/4SE1/4S10T8R3W In a gray limestone asphaltum mine in gully, pentremites Valemosa Springs, SE1/4SE1/4S19T6R1W Fossiliferous Limestone Russell County â€“ Cretaceous age fossils, pelecypods, in raodcuts on each side of AL 165, 2.3 miles south of Holy Trinity. Shelby County - Ordovician age fossils, graptolites in shale, in roadcut on south side of AL 25, 2.3 miles west of the intersection of AL 25 and US 31 in Calera. Graptolites in shales in road cut on west side of AL25 between Montevallo and I-65. Calera, in quarries beBryozoian Archimedes tween Calera and Pelham, Ordovician, gastropods: turritella, hormotoma, coelocaulus, orospira, tarphyceras. Little Cahaba River, S17T24NR11E, Ordovician, gastropods: turritella, hormotoma, coelocaulus, orospira, tarphyceras. Montevallo, 2 miles W along Columbiana Road, Ordovician, lecanospira. On AL 25 between I-65 and Montevallo in shale outcrops in red clay road cuts, abundant,well preserved graptolites St Clair, SE of Blount and Chandler Mountains along Dry Creek in NE1/4S18T13R4E, Ammonite Scaphites Mississippian, corals, lithostrotion. Odenville, 1300 meters E in RR cut, Ordovician, large gastropod casts, maclurea Sumter County - Pelecypods and gastropods, in roadcuts at the intersection of AL 39 with improved dirt road, .5 mile north of AL 39 and U.S. 11, 5-6 miles northeast of Livingston. Also on south side of U.S. 11 at this point. Griffinâ€™s Landing, fossiliferous black clay outcrops N for 7 miles on Tombigbee River to Black Bluff in S12T16R1W, Gastropods,pelecypods, corals,cephalopod fragments Blastoids
Washington, Baker’s Bluff, 1 mile upstream from St Stephens, mollusks PushPush Creek, around W end of Hatchetigbee uplift, S17T10R4W,S17T10R4W,S21T10R4W, Eocene, fossils. Shoemaker’s Mill, NW in S2T9NR4W in sand beds, crassatella Wilcox, Allenton Station 1 mile E in Porters Creek, forams, corals, mollusks - turritella. Camden, 11.3 km E on Allentown Rd in Matthew’s landing Eocene mollusks, forams, sharks teeth, bryozoa. Camden, 18.9 km E in Clayton Fm in road cut on Al 28, Eocene, molds, casts. mollusks, forams, sharks teeth, bryozoa Gravel Creek, near AL 41, Many mollusks. Gregg’s Landing near county line corals, mollusks -- fusus, fasciolaria, phola J. Lee Bridge on AL10-26, .,5 mi. W in road cut, echinoids, pelecypods, nautiloids, bryozoa Lower Peach Tree, in bank of Bear Creek E of bridge on County 1 to Sunny South, mollusks, coral-haimesiastraea. Matthew’s Landing, gastropods, pseudoliva, murex, fusus Midway Landing, 4 km NW in bed of Rock Creek below AL 10 bridge 2 km W of Al 28 junction, nautiloids Oakhill, 7.1 km W in road cut on AL 10, forams Pine Barren Creek, in creek banks and road cuts on AL 28 near intersection of AL 21 and AL 28., mollusks, plants, nautiloids, turritella
Cephalopod fossil image from 1896 (JAMES D. DANA - PD)
The Tennessee Valley area of Alabama is an ideal area for fossil hunting. Many of the fossils found here are from the Mississippian Period with the most common being echinoderms related to present day starfish and sea urchins. Best known are crinoids and blastoids which were plantlike, filter feeders attached to the ocean bottom in calm water. Crinoid columns are the most common fossils. Bryozoans and coral can also be found along with brachiopods and mollusks such as bivalves, gastropods and cephalopods. One may also find the less common marine fossil trilobites, sponges and teeth of the shark Cladodus. As one moves southward below the valley, collectors may began to find fossil plants.
FOSSIL WHALES Alabama is one of the prime sites in the world for massive fossils of whales or zeuglodons. These large creatures concentrated in shallow sea areas of what is now Clarke, Choctaw and Washington counties at what is believed to be the end of the Eocene Epoch around 40 million years ago. The â€œFather of British Geologyâ€? Sir Charles Lyell was attracted to the area in the mid1840s and spent time in Alabama examining the fossil outcrops. Zeuglodons are classified as primitive whalelike mammals and are characterized by a long-snouted skull with heavily cusped cheek teeth. It was a snakelike creature that occurs in shallow marine sediments of the late Eocene age on three continents. The zeuglodon is very distinctive and short-lived in the geologic record and has been used to mark the end of the Eocene Epoch. The two families of the specimens range from 15-20 ft long to 50-70 feet long with a thoracic vertebrae getting as large as a five-gallon can. Experts believe the whales were limited to the continental shelves of the world, in water depths of less than six hundred feet. They are believed to have searched for food among masses of seaweed within a dozen miles or so of the shoreline.
Artifact Hunting Although many Civil War battle sites are off-limits for artifact hunters, here are a number of old historical sites that you may be able to search. Alabama has many small or little known Civil War sites. Many do not come under state recognition and are not protected by park or historical status. However, many of them are scattered about on private lands consumed with woods and weeds and to work these sites requires permission from the landowner. Baldwin County: Clay City - located 7 miles east of Fairhope on the Fish River is the site of an early (1850) jug works and a federal re-supply camp. The original brick works was located along the banks of the river. Remnants of the brick works still stand according to sources. Some historical accounts indicate that bricks produced here were used in the construction of forts Morgan and Gaines. Clay City is located a few miles off Baldwin County 33, a few miles north of Baldwin County 32. The factory was closed around 1900. Bon Secour - at the mouth of Bon Secour River, was the site of a Confederate camp and salt works that were destroyed by Federal forces in September, 1864. According to John Jackson, Director of the Baldwin County Department of Archives and History, writing in the Gulf Coast Newspapers, August 20, 2010, â€œSalt was so important to the state of Alabama that the State General Assembly passed Act 38 on December 9, 1862 creating the Alabama Salt Commission. From that point forward the regulatory agency was placed in charge of the purchase, manufacture, and transport of salt. â€œThe largest salt manufacturing facility created in Alabama was situated in Clarke County and consisted of three primary locations on the Tombigbee River. From 1862 through 1865 the Clarke County works employed a force of some 5,000 men many of whom were slaves impressed by the state to produce the salt.
“Baldwin County’s contribution to salt production came from the Bon Secour Community where a facility to produce the much needed commodity was completed in early 1863. The construction of the facility was very much like others found along the Gulf Coast. It was comprised of long open sheds with a brick firebox running down the center of the shed. Enormous iron vessels were positioned along this fire box and were heated by a fire built at one end of the building. The hot air from the fire traveled through the fire box and was used to boil a brine substance contained in the pots rendering it into salt. “The brine was retrieved from pits dug into the local salt marsh. These pits were lined with heavy timbers which allowed the salt brine to flow through the cracks between the timbers. The brine was then collected carried to the boiling vats where it was boiled until the water evaporated and left only the salt. The salt residue was then scraped from the vats and packaged for shipment. “In September, 1864, after securing the entrance of Mobile Bay, Union troops proceeded to Bon Secour to destroy the salt works located there. Captain C.W. Stone of the 6th Michigan Volunteers recorded that forces under his command destroyed 990 of the iron vats and hauled away 30,000 feet of lumber. In his official report, Captain Stone mentioned that his forces burned all that was left behind at Bon Secour including a number of buildings having been constructed by the Confederate forces as quarters for soldiers, the place being known as Camp Anderson.��� Fort Alexis - site is located 4 miles northeast of Alexis Springs. This was part of a system of fortifications built to protect Mobile. Rock Creek Brickworks - just 2 miles north of Fairhope on Rock Creek was where bricks were made for the construction of Fort Bowyer.
Sunset at Bon Secour (Jon B. Ingram, WikiMedia Commons, Public Domain
Straight’s raid across Alabam (from MS eastward toward GA) (Brian0918 at en.wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported) Cherokee County: Blount Plantation - off Alabama 9 at Lawrence is where, on May 3, 1863, 500 Confederates under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest forced 1,500 Union soldiers to surrender. Union Colonel Abel Streight had marched his men all night from out of Etowah County and fought a battle here. According to the civilwarsallie.blogspot.com, The Confederates had stayed on Gen. Streight’s heels until they reached the area just east of Cedar Bluff, where the Union army stopped to rest. They had just dismounted, when Forrest’s troops were seen at a distance. “In a few minutes a courier reached Colonel Streight under a flag of truce, bearing a note requesting immediate surrender. A conference was then held between the two leaders during which a courier rode up to General Forrest and stated that General Van Dorn, with a division of troops, was stationed at a half-mile distance awaiting orders. Just as this courier was leaving another rode up with the statement that General Roddey was present and awaiting orders. Forrest replied to both that they were to instruct their commanders to await his signal gun, whereupon a charge was to be made. Of course, there were no Generals Roddey or Van Dorn in the state, but believing his army was surrounded by Confederate troops, Streight agreed to the terms demanded by Forrest and surrendered his entire army! With less than 400 men, Forrest captured almost 1500 Union soldiers.
Cedar Bluff - Union troops occupied the area, foraging and destroying bridges, buildings and mills throughout the area. Maj. W.E. Hill occupied this area on Sept. 9, 1863. Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler was here oon Oct. 6, 1864. Gen. Hood crossed the Coosa River here on Oct. 10, 1864. Headquarters of the Army of the Ohio were here on Oct. 26. Blue Pond - Off CR 33 half-way between Spring Garden and the intersection with U.S. 411. Six armies, 60,000 troops of Gen. Sherman were in the area. Gaylesville - Sherman ordered all armies to move here on Oct. 19, 1864. He arrived on Oct. 20. On the 30th he and 19,000 troops began the march through Georgia to the Atlantic Ocean. Round Mountain Furnace - located off CR 48, supplied Confederate ordnance and operated until 1906. The furnace was 32 feet high and steam driven. During the war, iron was shipped to the arsenal at Rome, GA and recast into Confederate ordnance, while some was shipped to the Naval Gun Works at Selma. The furnance was almost destroyed during a Federal raid under Maj. Gen. Francis Blair in 1864. The facility was rebuilt in 1874, enlarged and operated until 1906. There is a marker on side of CR 48 and remains on the site.
Tecumseh Furnace Site - located in the Spring Garden area. The furnace was operated during the war. There are no remains of the furnace itself.
The ruins of the Confederate States Naval Foundry at Selma, (Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Chilton County: Battle of Ebenezer Church - was fought April 1, 1865 at Stanton. This was one of the most fierce cavalry engagements of the war and was fought between Gen. Nathan B. Forrest’s Confederate forces as they attempted to block Union Gen. James H. Wilson’s raid across Alabama. Confederate Lieutenant General Forrest fought a last ditch effort to prevent Wilson from reaching the manufacturing center of Selma. Looking for a trap to spring on Wilson, Forrest picked the area around the church as it site presented a high ground, a curve of swampy ground and the two roads on which Wilson’s troops were marching, converged at the church. Thinking he would soon be joined by additional cavalry support, Forrest was confident but the Confederates were outnumbered over two to one by 9,000 Federal troops. By all accounts the fighting was fierce and since only a portion of the reinforcements Forrest had expected arrived, a Union charge broke the Alabama troops and sent them withdrawing back to Selma. Numerous historians say that the battle for Selma was actually fought and lost at Ebenezer Church.
Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest (PD-OUD.)
Postcard image of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, April 1, 1865, at Ebenezer Church on Boglerâ€™s Creek, 20 miles north of Selma Alabama. (Curteich, Wikimedia Commons, PD-Art (PD-old)) Today visitors will find a marker in front of the church and a monument on the hill in the cemetery. And if you look across Alabama 22 in front of the church you can see the battlefield which is now fields and residential area. Some residents might permit detectorists to visit their property. Ebenezer Church is located on Alabama 22, 24 miles north of downtown Selma Clark County: Fort Stonewall - located at Oven Bluff in Clark County, was built in the 1860s to guard the salt works at Jackson and the Naval foundry and arsenal upriver at Selma. The fort had 27 cannons and earthworks. The cannons were never fired and the fort was destroyed in 1865 to prevent Union capture. Cullman County: Battle of Days Gap Site - along U.S. 31, 8 miles north of Cullman, where Confederate Gen. Forrest overtook Union raiders under Col. A.D. Streight. Battle of Hog Mountian - was fought along U.S. 278, 10 miles west of Cullman in 1863, as Forrest pursued Streight into Georgia.
Escambia County: The Pollard Military Depot in Pollard, was the site on Jan. 1, 1865 of an engagement between Confederate Gen. J.H. Clanton and federal raiders. On March 25, 1865, the depot was destroyed by Gen. Steele’s federal cavalry. The site included the depot, warehouse and town. Macon County: The Battle of Chehaw was fought in 1864 northwest of Tuskegee at Eufaulee Creek. Confederate embattlements can be seen from the west side of the railroad bridge. Morgan County: The Fort Bluff site in Decatur was the scene of several skirmishes. Washington County: The Central Salt Works on Lower Salt Creek, three miles inland from Carney’s Bluff in Washington County was built in 1816, discontinued in the 1830s, revived during the war and shut down following the war. The Upper Salt Works were located on Jackson Creek, five miles above Jackson in 1816 and was the county’s largest salt works during the war.
Metal detectos at 21st World Scout Jamboree (Superchilum - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Old Historic Sites *In Shelby County, off State Road 25 between Calera and Columbiana, is Shelby Springs - one of the state’s most notable resorts between the 1830’s - 1862 when the site became a training center for Confederate soldiers and was known as Camp Winn. The Shelby Springs Hotel was a hospital during the Civil War and the cottages became homes for soldiers. Part of the property became a Confederate soldier cemetery. The Shelby Springs Resort was advertised as early as 1839. A 30-room hotel with dining room and offices, public parlors and ballroom and cabins were built after completion of the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad to Shelby Springs in 1855. There were six springs - three sulphur, two chalybeate and one limestone with a “freestone” water well in the yard of the hotel.
The old“General Hospital, Shelby Springs” as it looked during the Civil War. This photo made before it was destroyed by fire on May 15, 1906
As noted by James F. Sulzby, Jr. in his book, Historic Alabama Hotels & Resorts, the hotel burned and the property was later leased to Col. J.M. Dedman. Dedman built another hotel on the same site as the former one, using the remains of the old foundation for the new building. In addition he built bathhouses for sulphur baths. In May 1887 the “Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers of Selma” gave their first annual picnic at Shelby Springs. The Shelby Chronicle stated “After a pleasant run of four hours the Springs were reached, where a large crowd from the surrounding towns had already assembled to join in the festivities of the day. Col. J.M. Dedman, the genial and hospitable proprietor, had arranged everything in elegant style for the occasion.” In December 1887 The Shelby Sentinel stated that Shelby Springs was then the resort of the families of Selma gentlemen. The bed chambers, at that time, were located in single story cottages around the square, all connected with each other. The Shelby Sentinel dated June 13, 1889 indicates “The present season at Shelby Springs promises to be a very pleasant one. The genial proprietor, Mr. H.H. Baker, and his accomplished wife will spare no pains to secure the comfort and pleasure of guests. Besides daily meals, a telegraph station will be established that will give patrons easy and expeditious communication with distant points. The entire premises have been repaired and renovated, and in their new coat of paint and whitewash, Shelby Springs, with its natural pleasing scenic beauties, presents an attractive appearance.” By an act approved by the legislature on February 16, 1892, the proprietor of Shelby Springs was permitted to sell alcoholic drinks to his guests from June 1 until the first of November each year. Beginning with the 1892 season Mr. and Mrs. Baker again took over the management of the hotel. He advertised that his culinary department would be unexcelled and that the services of experienced physicians had been secured for the sick. The rates were $2.00 per day, $10.00 per week, $20.00 to $35.00 per month. The reputation of Shelby Springs as a resort gained prominence again. These springs were the most popular resort for families and health seekers in Alabama. An elegant dining room that measured 67 by 30 feet was provided for dining and dancing. A billiard room, bowling alley, lawn tennis and game room were added and several new cottages were constructed. A full-time string band was employed to entertain the
guests. The buildings were lighted with gasmanufactured locally, and the grounds were lighted with lamps placed at intervals. These were but a few of the services and conveniences provided. The obituary, The Peoples Advocate, December 29, 1893, “Died: At his residence at Shelby Springs on the 17th inst. H.H. Baker, of consumption, he had been in feeble health for some time.” On March 12, 1895 Mrs. Mary M. Baker married Maynard Pond. During the later part of the year 1896 the hotel was again destroyed by fire. Following the destruction of the second hotel Mrs. Mary Pond leased the property to Mr. Ed Booker of Uniontown. Mr. Booker constructed another dining room and dance hall to accommodate the guests who lived in the cottages. For the next few years guests at the springs were dependent upon cottages for sleeping accommodations. The Shelby Sentinel, September 1, 1904 reported, “Just before we go to press we learn that Manager McMahon of the Shelby Springs summer resort, was shot and killed yesterday morning by George Porter, of Calera. The Sentinel was unable to learn the particulars of the shooting.” In about 1905 Mrs. Mary McMahon built another hotel on the same foundation. For the 1905 season Mr. J.A. MacKnight was the manager of the resort. On a Saturday morning in August 1905 members of the Birmingham Auto Club [there being approximately 15 automobiles in the city at the time] began their journey to Shelby Springs. All drivers of the cars wore goggles and dusters because of the terrific dust. They arrived at Shelby Springs that day and there the group spent a pleasant evening. In 1906 Mrs. McMahon took over the management of the resort. On May 15, 1906 the [third] hotel was destroyed by fire. The Peoples Advocate, May 17, 1906 reported, “Fire destroyed the large hotel at Shelby Springs Tuesday night, together with everything in it. We could not learn how the fire originated, but are informed that insurance was carried on the building to the amount of $4,000. The pavilion was also burned.” The resort was later leased to W.J. Lloyd of Washington, D.C. Cottages were again used by guests and the dining room and kitchen, which were undamaged by the fire, were modernized. The first Baptist encampment in Alabama was held during the week of August 22, 1910 at Shelby Springs. Three hundred delegates from all parts of the state attended sessions in a large tent.
In 1912 J. Ray McMillan purchased the property. He rented cottages to guests and operated the dining room. In 1915 Shelby Springs was closed permanently as a summer resort. The McMillan family occupied the property as their home until 1926 when the property was sold and the Yamakita Club was established to include an eighteen-hole golf course, a concrete swimming pool, and landscaped grounds. In 1938 Capt. John Reid Irby purchased the property and built the two-story white Georgian Colonial home that still stands near the springs. Located in the living room, the oak mantel of more than 100 years old was originally carved for the William Howard Taft home. In 1944, following the death of Capt. Irby, the property was purchased by Howard Hall of Birmingham for use as a summer home and cattle farm. The Shelby Sentinel had this story on Aug. 17, 1882, “At the risk of boring nearly all of Selma and many of our out-of-town readers, who have been there and consequently know all about the place, the city editor of this paper will attempt a description of Shelby Springs, a resort that by reason of its nearness, attractiveness and healthfulness, has spring into considerable popularity with citizens of the Central City, as seen during a three day’s stop there the latter part of last week. Situated sixty-six miles north of here on the Selma Division of the E.T.V. & G. Railroad, four miles beyond Calera, where the L. & N. crosses our trunk line, it is easily accessible from all parts of the State, which advantage is to be desired by all such places since a fondness for summer resorts near home seems implanted in the heads of families which are large and for the most part young. “Of summer resorts there are almost as many varieties as there are resorts; so to enumerate them is akin to impossible. However, to the quiet, homelike, family class, Shelby Springs properly belongs, and as such, for beauty of site, healthfulness of location, excellence of water, and all that lavish nature can accomplish to bring about loveliness, comfort, a freedom from malaria and the countless other ills that frequently beset springs, it is beyond comparison, on an unpretentious mild scale, the best of all I have ever seen. “The Selmian alighting at the little station, on looking around on the gathered assemblage of dainty women in white, hordes of children and sunburned men, for there is ever a crowd down to greet and bid farewell to every train, would imagined himself back in his native place, so familiar are all the faces. A short walk of perhaps a hundred yards beneath the grateful shade of wide-spreading mulberry trees covered with fruit and
bearing in their branches numberless gaudy-hued, twittering songsters, brings one to the hotel, which is on the edge of a large grove of gigantic oaks that rear their stately heads far skywards in the little valley wherein are located the springs. The hotel is much better than I had expected to find. It is much better than it was. It can and will be made better than it is. The table is well supplied with all seasonable eatables and the meals are served in good style. A hearty appetite is the delightful possession of every visitor to this place, and prompt responses to the different meal bells, and a lengthy stay at the table are noticeable results, that have as prime causes copious and frequent draughts of health-giving waters, an abundance of exercise and sleep, and good, bracing air to breathe. “About the confines of the grove at regular intervals are placed cottages, glistening in newly taken coats of white wash and looking most attractive and bower-like, with the dense, dark green foliage as a background, and the greenest and most inviting carpets of grass everywhere about. A rather large brook of clear water, that rambles on by mossy banks o’er pebbly beds, takes its musical way through the center of the valley, and adds greatly to the beauty of the woodland scene. The springs are six in number and are varied in quantity, quality, and analysis, viz: three sulphur, one limestone, and two chalybeate. In the hotel yard is an excellent freestone well, the icy waters from which are not much used, since to quaff in health with every drink of mineral spring water seems the intention of visitors, and their ideas apparently lean towards the belief that the more water they consume the more health they will acquire. “Shelby as has been said before is essentially a family resort. It is a great place for children, and the sickliest of youngsters begin to improve almost as soon as arriving there. To the seeker after extreme gayety; to the miss in search of extensive and exciting flirtations; to the man in quest of a game of chance; to the bobby youth whose ambition soars no higher than a spike-tail coat and a ballroom conquest; to the fashionable mother with an eye on her daughter’s matrimonial prospect, Shelby would indeed be dull; but to the person of either sex or any age whose summer vacation is wanted to build up his or her constitution; to entice robust health to reign where enervation and sickness have before held death-inviting sway; to the over-worked business man, or others who need complete rest; to the lover of delightful surroundings, improving society and amusements of a not exciting variety; to the admirer of the beauties of nature, and to one long round of lazy delight –
Shelby Springs is the haven looked for. Early hours are kept by all the families, the children in particular vieing with each other and his majesty, Old Sol, in seeing which can be stirring first. The damp cool air of night has scarcely been dispelled by the blush of morning, the dew still lies in sparkling beads on the emerald carpet of earth, when the first bell, the dressing bell, rings in the hotel. That its inviting summons is obeyed is proven when a short time after the breakfast bell peals out, and the almost simultaneous opening of room and cottage doors proclaims the hundry processionâ€™s starting. The same promptness is evinced at dinner and at supper an equally pleasing state of affairs exists. No unusual attempt at dressing is made. In the morning the ladies without exception wear bewitching white costumes, beautiful in their make-up and simplicity. At dinner a trifle more â€œagonyâ€? is put one, and at supper thicker garments, for the evenings are remarkable cool, such as bright-colored plated waists with white dresses, are donned with a result absolutely charming. Since in a few lines above the early-to-rise circumstances have been described, the early-to-bed portion may be unnecessary to mention. However it may be proper to state that half-past nine or ten at the latest sees the place shrouded in darkness and given over to the chirping of crickets and the meanderings of sundry large watch dogs about the premises. Of the amusements croquet take first place, and the splendid grounds are never without contestants. Young and old participate in the sport and take equal interest in the result of a game. Minds that are busied for eight or nine long months of the year in studying out the knotty questions of law, marking out political campaigns, and conducting large business transactions of great importance, become as much excited and worked up over the proper direction given a croquetted ball as in the most engrossing questions of their various callings. The boys play base ball at all hours of the day, the little girls with their dolls and pets while away the hours most contented, while their loving mothers visit each other continually and discuss new dresses, possible and probable marriages and other womanly topics ad lib. The springs are resorted to whenever the proper degree of thirst is reached by any one, and as the short walk to the fountains of health is at all times shaded, it is made with pleasure no matter how high the sun is. In the cool of the evening the men proceed a short distance up the railroad track and bank away at swift flying bullbats.
Confederate Battle Sites Battle of Day’s Gap – April 30, 1863 Union Col. Abel D. Streight led a provisional brigade on a raid to cut the Western & Atlantic Railroad that supplied Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Confederate army in Middle Tennessee. From Nashville, Tennessee, Streight’s brigade traveled to Eastport, Mississippi, and then east to Tuscumbia. On April 26, 1863, Streight’s men left Tuscumbia and marched southeast. On April 30, Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s brigade caught up with Streight and attacked at Day’s Gap on Sand Mountain. The Federals fought back and continued their march toward Rome where they would later destroy Confederate railroads. This began a series of skirmishes and engagements: Crooked Creek (April 30), Hog Mountain (April 30), Blountsville (May 1), Black Creek/ Gadsden (May 2), and Blount’s Plantation (May 2). Forrest finally surrounded the Union soldiers near Rome, Georgia, where he forced their surrender on May 3. (http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/ battles/al001.htm ) The Battle of Day’s Gap was the first in a series of American Civil War skirmishes in Cullman County that lasted until May 2, and was known as Streight’s Raid. A marker is located at: 34° 17.217′ N, 86° 53.733′ W. near Vinemont, in Cullman County on U.S. 31 next to the Hurricane Creek Park.. *Cherokee County - The Union troops occupying the area around Cedar Bluff caused loss to the citizens by foraging, taking cattle, pigs, horses, mules, wagons, grain, potatoes, destroying bridges, Cornwall Furnace and supporting buildings, mills, etc. Maj. W. E. Hill, commanding the Elite Battalion of the Cavalry Corps, was the first Union force to occupy Cedar Bluff on September 9, 1863. He was at Cedar Bluff only for a short period . Gen. Sherman’s troops (six armies – 60,000) were at Cedar Bluff, Gavlesville, Little River, Blue Pond, and Leesburg Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler was reported to be in Cedar Bluff on October 6, 1864. Sherman reported to Gen. Grant on October 10, 1864 that Gen. Hood was crossing the Coosa above Cedar Bluff bound west after leaving Atlanta. Sherman at Summerville, Georgia on October 19, 1864 ordered all armies to move on Gaylesville. He personally arrived on October 20 and issued his
first Special Field Orders No. 99 which included: Gen. Cox to take a strong position at Cedar Bluff, Maj. Gen. Howard to take position at Blue Pond and Little River, Maj. Gen. Stanley’s corps and the 17 army corps under Maj. Gen. J. A. Mower to remain in position at Gaylesville. Sherman at Gaylesville on October 22 ordered Gen Corse at Rome to send him a pontoon bridge to Cedar Bluff “I want a good pontoon bridge at Cedar Bluff, and those at Rome will give me two good crossing places on the Coosa. As soon as I get the pontoons I will throw a few into Centre.” Brig. Gen. Corse advised Gen. Sherman from Rome on October 22 that he was sending 16 pontoons to Cedar Bluff via the Coosa River with 300 mounted men to guard them. On October 24, Maj. Gen. Schofield of the Army of the Ohio, ordered Brig. Gen. J. D. Cox “to move to Cedar Bluff in the morning and thoroughly complete the destruction of the iron works near the Chattooga River by throwing down the chimney, now standing, and breaking down the arch etc.” Special Field Orders 140 confirms the Headquarters of the Army of the Ohio to be at Cedar Bluff on October 26, Maj. Gen. J. M. Schofield, commanding. Gen. Sherman on October 28 in Special Field Orders No. 108 directed the Army of the Ohio to cross the Coosa at Cedar Bluff and move to Rome. The Army of the Tennessee was ordered to cross the Coosa at Cedar Bluff and move to Vann’s Valley. The 14th Corps was ordered to move via Gaylesville, north of the Coosa, to Rome and destroy the pontoon bridge at Cedar Bluff on October 29. (CHEROKEE COUNTY HERITAGE Volume VI, No.1, January 1977 The War in this Area Troop Movements. Militarv Orders, Gen. Sherman. Gen. Grant. President Lincoln. March to the Sea Planned Uncredited. Probably by Col. Robert N. Mann) With some detailed research, the treasure hunter might be able to find areas, with landowners permission, on which to detect as there was a large number of men and military equipment in the area.
Calhoun County - Cane Creek Furnace - Erected in 1840, 8 mi. north of Anniston, this was the second producer of pig iron built in Alabama and is located on the old Ft. McClellan firing range off Highway 431. It stood 32 feet high and featured a water wheel and two hot blast stoves and a foundry for casting hollow-ware. Iron was shipped to Selma and Rome, Georgia for Confederate arsenals. The furnace was destroyed in 1864 by Federal cavalry raiders under General Rousseau. (Advertisement in the Jacksonville Republican in 1855 offering a wide variety of castings made at the Cane Creek Furnace)
Ladiga Cavalry Skirmish - Off Hwy. 21 near Jacksonville - on Oct. 28, 1864 the site was the last fighting between the armies of Hood and Sherman during the Civil War.
This is a slightly cropped image of Col. (later Gen.) Abel Delos Streight, commander of the 51st Indiana Infantry. In 1863, he led a combined force on a raid into northern Alabama. Taken prisoner, he later escaped and wrote an after action report of the events. (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/cwp2003002572/PP/)
The Ghost of Arbacoochee As with many "ghost towns" Arbacoochee has a legend and it is of a mysterious ghost who played on a violin following a deadly crime in the early gold rush town. Legend is that in the late 1800's the sound of a violin could be heard playing in the night, particularly in a deserted cabin near the gold field. There were tales circulating in the mining town that the sound of the strumming of violin strings could be heard, followed by the tuning of the instrument and then the bow being drawn across the strings and followed by the playing of a Scottish love song and a Highland fling. A few local historians say that two miners from California came into town one day. One man was named McLeod and the other Burke and they had spend over twenty years prospecting for gold in California and Nevada. McLeod, the Scotchman, was the violin player. According to the legend, one day the men did not show up in the Arbacoochee gold field and friends came looking for them and made the discovery of McLeod's death inside the two men's cabin - he had been shot and his dead body was in a chair before a fire, where he had apparently been playing his violin as it was still in his hands. There was no evidence to convict Burke of the crime but many noticed that he began spending his days and nights in one of the town's saloons and it was there that another miner gave his account of hearing music coming from the haunted cabin. Several noticed that Burke drank more and more and appeared on the verge of a mental breakdown when one day he came into the bar, ordered a drink and heard another fiddler in an adjoining room begin to play "Within A Mile O' Edinborough Town". Burke began to tremble and shake, his drink glass fell to the floor and he reached for his throat and also fell to the floor - dead! A doctor was called to the saloon and pronounced Burke dead of alcohol and sudden shock. Local legend says the musician in the adjacent room was actually using McLeod's violin to play the song that apparently shocked Burke and caused his death.
Gold Mine Worker Recalls Bama “Rush” Days Former gold mine worker, 81-year old John Barrett, recalled in an interview in 1974 of his days working in a gold mine along Gold Mine Branch in Randolph County. Barrett told the interviewer that he started working at the mine in 1906 and actually went into the 100 -ft. mine shaft in 1907 “on a Sunday” when he made a one time visit. He said he was 17 at the time he started working at the mine that was owned and operated by “Yankees”. The mine was located on about 1,000 acres. He said a Mr. Robinson, “a Yankee”, was the foreman and when the mine ceased operation almost overnight, it was Robinson who took suitcases of gold and departed. “No one knows how much gold was taken”, said Barrett. Barrett said the mine included a machine shop, a main mine shaft that was entered via a ladder or by use of a cable which also utilized a large bucket to pull mined material up from inside the earth for processing. He said the main tunnel was well “timbered up” and there was also a lake on the east side of the mine property and water was pumped, by a steam driven pump, from it to wash the ore. He explained that graphite was used in the process and “gold would stick to it” and enable easier processing. Inside the mine, the workers used lights on their head to see how to work in the dark. The area became known as Goldridge and included, along with the mine and associated structures, a one-teacher school and church. Around 50 men worked at the mine and were paid in a form of notes that could be exchanged for real money or used in a local commisary/grocery store. After operating for several years the mine “might nigh shut down overnight” and owners went back North. Remains include a 300 ft. long shaft and several areas were water has filled in other shafts and one has partially fallen in he said. He recalled that the land was sold off to local buyers for about $10 per acre. Barrett said while the mine was in operation there were men who lived or “boarded” there and they were mostly from Heflin up in Cleburne County or other surrounding counties. He said it was a very peaceful community with no saloons, no gambling machines and very little drinking. “Hacks” pulled by horses and having curtained seating, transported some of the men and provided a rather warm ride. He also remembered his father working in the Arbacoochee Mine up in Cleburne County. “It was a pretty good little town,” Barrett said, with
four to five brick homes, a big grocery store and a town doctor, Dr. Will Kaylor. He said that in addtion to gold, copper was also mined there. Barrett said â€œYankeesâ€? owned most every kind of major business and most of the property in the general area. He said they owned the gold mine, two copper mines along with another mine near Micaville. He said portions of southern Cleburne County are filled with holes from diggings where men would dig the earth and sift it for gold, copper or other minerals. Barrettsâ€™ other recollections of the area included the first auto to be driven in the community was an Essex produced by the Essex Motor Company between 1918 and 1922 and by Hudson Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan between 1922 and 1932. At the time a good pair of horses could be bought for around $300 and wages, including those at the mine, were $1.25 per day. At the time, if a worker made $1.50 per day, it was considered to be extremely good wages. He pointed out that a little money went a long way and most people raised most of their food and made their own clothes. He said if a person owned property and had $500 in the bank, they were considered wealthy.
Gold prospector pouring water through his rocker box (Lee, Russell - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC)
History Lives On At The Pine Mountain Gold Mine Its not certain when gold was first discovered in Georgia by white settlers but some of the earliest date back to 1815 on the Chestatee River near Dahlonega and in 1826 in McDuffie County Georgia’s first State Historian, Lucian Knight, writes of a discovery of gold in Carroll County near what is now Villa Rica sometimes in 1826 but it was mostly considered folklore. Three years later, in 1829 the north Georgia town of Dahlonega hosted the first highly publicized gold rush in the state and by the mid 1830 their was much talk about gold finds and mining activity as over 500 actually working mines sprang up making the state one of the biggest gold producers in the the nation. Thus, what has been described as a “southern gold rush” lasted into the 1840s mostly within a “gold belt” running from Rabun County in north Georgia and southward through Cherokee County and on into Paulding and Carroll counties and over the line in Alabama. And during the mid-1800s the “belt” was one of the riches gold formations in the USA. It was in the mid-1820s that gold was discovered in present day Douglas County near what is now Villa Rica. But, a little known law was passed in 1825 giving the mineral rights to the state so it was not until 1829, after the law was repealed, that commercial mining operations began to flourish in the area. According to the Pine Mountain Gold Museum website, “there were as many as nineteen commercial gold mining operations in and around Villa Rica. By the turn of the 20th century, most lie in ruins or were plowed under to make room for cotton fields. Of the original nineteen, only the Pine Mountain Gold Mine was commercially mined seriously after 1900.” And “In 1917, T.H. Aldrich introduced cyanide gold mining, a process used to separate the gold from the ore. However, mining ceased with the start of World War II and most of the old mining equipment was sold for the war effort.” The first mining town in the area was Hixtown which later became to be known as Villa Rica (Spanish for “City of Gold” ) and between 1830 and 1840 there were 20,000 pennyweights of gold produced in the area in the form of mostly gold dust. According to the museum “Villa Rica gold is among the purest in the world at 98% pure from the ground. Most geologists agree that less than 20% of the gold in the area was mined.” The Pine Mountain site was commercially mined off and on for over 100 years, making it one of the lon-
longest running mining operations in the state of Georgia. The Pine Mountain Gold Museum has a 50-seat theater with a 20minute documentary of the history of the Villa Rica mines. Visitors will also find a covered gold and gemstone panning area where they can actually “pan” for gold and gems on the site of the actual mine. The museum also has an authentic grist mill and water-wheel, a 27acre park with over three miles of self-guided walking trails with interpretive signage and knowledgeable guides available for group tours of 15 or more. This site also has West Georgia’s only authentic 19th Century gold stamp mill. There is also a half-mile tour around the mountain via the Pine Mountain Scenic Railroad. Most of the museum’s exhibits were found on Pine Mountain and date back to the early 1800’s and some exhibits date back to 12,000 BC!
Pen and ink illustration Oliver did based upon a 100+ year old photograph of a prospector panning for gold.. (Tony Oliver - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Old photographs of Rock Run Furnace and Comissary
Little Remains of Once Thriving Community There is little to indicate that the community of Rock Run in Cherokee County was once a thriving industrial town. From 1874 to the mid 1920s the town flourished. The iron foundry/ furnace was destroyed by Union troops during the Civil War but was rebuilt in 1879. In 1883 the town, the known as Bass, got its first Post Office and was renamed Rock Run. Some remains of the furnace area can still be seen but for those visiting the area it is advisable to consult local property owners before you attempt to check any sites. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, the town was primarily built to house and support the employees of the Rock Run furnace and is typical of the industrial towns scattered through the South at the turn of the century. While the early 20th century town contained a school, commissary, numerous houses, and a relatively large charcoal furnace, only about 15 houses and the commissary have survived. One of many furnaces located in Alabama in the 1800s and early 1900s, the Rock Run furnace is said to have been the last charcoal furnace in the U.S. to have been blown out.
Only Springs Remain of Fashionable Resort
Part of the springs as they look today. Water rises from the ground in the upper part of the photo. Remains of an old concrete walkway and be seen in a crescent shape from bottom left to center. (Photo by Wayne Ruple)
Borden Springs - upper Cleburne County might yield some finds around the remains of the old springs which can be found via an old dirt road off Clebure County 49. The springs are what was once a premier southern resort including a large hotel atop a hill from the springs. The hotel site is now a pasture and other areas of the resort are under private ownership. If you plan to try this area you should first obtain permission from the property owner to use a detector on the site. The spring area is accessible by a dirt road and the immediate area around the spring might yield some finds.
An old postcard shows the interior of the popular Borden Springs Resort Hotel
Resources On Collecting Fossils In Alabama The Geological Survey of Alabama Revised March 2010 1. The Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA) has published several reports that include information about fossils in the state. These publications are available through the GSAâ€™s Publications Sales Office (only open in the mornings). For ordering information, go to www.ogb.state.al.us/ publications.aspx, or contact the Publications Sales Office via telephone at (205) 247-3636. *Curious Creatures in Alabama Rocks, Circular 19 ($3.50 + S&H), includes information about collecting sites. This report is old, but some of the sites should be still accessible. *A Guidebook to the Mississippian Rocks and Fossils of North Alabama, Educational Series 13 ($6 + S&H), was written to accompany a 1-day field and laboratory workshop for teachers. It is based partially on a 1993 technical publication of the Alabama Geological Society. This report includes directions to and information about collecting sites. *Geology of Alabama, Special Report 14 ($10.25 + S&H), is a technical report first published in 1926 and recently reprinted. This report requires some geological knowledge, but it is comprehensive if a bit dated. *Monograph 13, Stratigraphic Distribution of Paleocene and Eocene Fossils in the Eastern Gulf Coast Region ($10.25 + S&H), has many good illustrations of mollusks. This report is fairly technical and, because few copies remain, would be best viewed at the GSA library. *Bulletin 121, Genevievian and Chesterian Crinoids of Alabama ($6 + S&H), includes many good photographs of crinoids found in north Alabama. *Bulletin 158, Ichnology of the Upper Mississippian Hartselle Sandstone of Alabama, with Notes on Other Carboniferous Formations ($5.50 + S&H), is a technical report on trace fossils that contains very good photographs. 2. The GSA has several posters under its Educational Series (ES) of publications that may be especially helpful to educators. These include Fossil Creatures of Alabama (ES 12), with photos of 29 different fossils found in Alabama; Mosasaurs of Alabama (ES 15) depicting a mosasaur, found in Alabama, chasing a sea turtle; and Alabamaâ€™s Geologic History
(ES 16), which contains information about ancient life in Alabama. Also available free to visitors are a fact sheet about the State Fossil—the Eocene whale (Basilosaurus cetoides), a postcard version of the ES 15 poster, and labeled fossils. These items are available free if picked up from the Publications Sales office or at nominal cost for postage and handling if mailed. For ordering information, go to www.ogb.state.al.us/publications.aspx or contact the Publications Sales Office via telephone at (205) 247-3636. 3. The Alabama Geological Society has published more than 30 fieldtrip guidebooks summarizing their annual field trips. The Society’s web site is http://homepage.mac.com/jpashin/AGS.htm. Some of these guidebooks include information about fossils. 4. The Birmingham Paleontological Society (BPS) and Alabama Paleontological Society (APS) conduct fossil-collecting field trips in Alabama at least once a month. Contact information for the BPS is available at www. bps-al.org, and for the APS at www.alabamapaleo.org or from Ashley Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org. 5. The Alabama Museum of Natural History has published a report on fossil footprints in Alabama. Contact the Museum (on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa; www.amnh.ua.edu) for information about this report. Also, the Museum sometimes leads fossil- related field trips for the public. The Museum’s exhibits include displays about fossils. 6. In October 2000, the Alabama Geological Society published Lost Worlds in Alabama Rocks, by Jim Lacefield. This book covers the geologic history of the state and is profusely illustrated in color. Lost Worlds is very well written at the semitechnical level and is currently being revised. The first edition is still available from the author: email@example.com. 7. In 2005, the Alabama Paleontological Society published Pennsylvanian Footprints in the Black Warrior Basin of Alabama, edited by Ronald J. Buta, Andrew K. Rindsberg, and David C. Kopaska-Merkel. The book is $49 plus $4 shipping and handling to destinations in the USA. For ordering information, see www.alabamapaleo.org. In 1999, a science teacher scouted a surface coal mine in northcentral Alabama for his class and found a treasure trove of vertebrate trackways that had been imprinted on a tidal mud flat 310 million years before. The Union Chapel Mine is now recognized as the world’s best Carboniferous tracksite. This volume—an unusual collaboration between amateurs and professionals—tells not only about the footprints and associated fossils, but also about the unprecedented effort to rescue the site from
reclamation. 8. Discovering Alabama has produced a video about the Union Chapel Mine site, called “Tracks Through Time.” This is now available in DVD format from Discovering Alabama (www.discoveringalabama.com). 9. Encyclopedia of Alabama, geologic entries: http://eoa.duc.auburn.edu/face/Categories.jsp?path=GeographyandEnviron ment/ / Entries on fossils: http://eoa.duc.auburn.edu/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1152 http://eoa.duc.auburn.edu/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1371 http://eoa.duc.auburn.edu/face/Article.jsp?id=h-2319 http://eoa.duc.auburn.edu/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1386 http://eoa.duc.auburn.edu/face/Article.jsp?id=h-2320 David C. Kopaska-Merkel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Some fossils of the Neogene (formally “Tertiary”) marine fauna (This page comes from Book 15 of the 4th edition of Meyers Konversationslexikon (1885–90))
Alabama Gold Camp Offers A Real Prospecting Experience Located right in the heart of Alabama’s gold belt is the Alabama Gold Camp, a privately run camp encompassing 179 acres of gold bearing land offering gold diggers and treasure hunters plenty of room to pan. sluice, dredge, high-bank or metal detect. There are 34 mine sites within a 5-mile range of the camp. You can also find red garnets, fossils, citrine, and indian artifacts on the property. Alabama Gold Camp is located adjacent to 10-mile long Wesobulga Creek enabling paning, sluicing, dredging and high-banking along the banks as well Crooked Creek and smaller tributaries. Visitors will find, on site, lodging facilities in the form of “primitive” or RV campsites (full hook-ups) and “prospecting shacks”, laundry, mining equipment for rent or sale and a good selection of groceries, and treasure hunting paraphrenilia in the camp store. You are also welcome to bring your own equipment. The rustic “prospecting shacks” provide double occupancy and include a refrigerator, coffee pot, microwave, linens, air conditioning, barbecue grill, picnic table, television, DVD and a private bathroom. A pavilion is available to gather for a meal or meeting. Owners/operators have over 25 years prospecting and mining experience so they will be glad to teach you techniques You will find them at 1398 Co. Rd. 5, Lineville in Clay County. Call 256-396-0389 for more information.
Sluice box for gold mining (Nienetwiler - Creative Commons Attribution 2.5)