Here are a few details of the history of Gold Mining, including Villa Rica’s own goldmine. The full version is available at the Museum upon request.

  • Legend has it that Native Americans knew of gold in America long before the settlers, but held that its value was for jewelry instead of currency.

  • Spanish explorers came to America in search of gold. In 1513 Ponce de Leon landed in Florida, where he was told of the gold that ran through the land.

  • Hernando De Soto traveled through what is now western and northwestern Georgia in search of the golden cities he had heard of in tales.

  • There are tales of finds in the Chestatee River near Dahlonega in 1815 and in McDuffie County in 1826.

  • Lucian Lamar Knight, Georgia’s first State Historian, tells of a discovery in Carroll County near present day Villa Rica in 1826 but does not list his sources.

  • The Villa Rica claim was not widely recognized and remained one of conjecture and folklore for over 175 years.

  • Dahlonega, Georgia played host to the first widely publicized gold rush in the state in 1829.

  • By the mid 1830’s, Georgia was actively gold mining. Over 500 working gold mines were documented in Georgia during this period, making it one of the nations’ more prolific producers of gold.

  • This southern gold rush, the first in the nation, lasted well into the 1840s.

  • The region in Georgia stretching from Rabun County through the city of Dahlonega, southward through Cherokee County and into Paulding and Carroll counties before ending in Alabama became known as the Dahlonega (Georgia) Gold Belt. Throughout the mid 1800’s it was one of the richest gold formations ever found in the continental United States of America.

  • According to ground surveys taken in the mid 1820’s, gold was discovered in the northern parts of Carroll County, (now Douglas County) near present day Villa Rica.

  • Due to an obscure law passed in 1825, which gave the mineral rights to the state for the newly created “Carroll County,” gold mining remained a closely guarded secret in Carroll until December of 1829 when the law was repealed. Within a few months, dozens of commercial mining operations suddenly appeared on the deed books in the area.

  • As the easily found gold diminished, the miners moved northward to the Cherokee Indian territory. This discovery of gold was the driving force for the removal of the Native Americans in this area. Ironically, the Georgia gold rush ended within twenty years after their removal.

  • In 1849, the miners headed west to California, which is where the term the 49ers is derived.

  • 19 commercial gold mining operations were recorded in and around Villa Rica.

  • Most of the gold mines in this area became defunct and only the Pine Mountain Gold Mine was commercially mined after 1900.

  • In 1917, T.H. Aldrich introduced cyanide gold mining, a process used to separate the gold from the ore. Miners used this process at the Pine Mountain gold mine, as can be seen with many of the outdoor exhibits on property.

  • Nationwide, most remaining gold mining ceased with the start of World War II and most of the old mining equipment was sold for the war effort.

Did you know?

  • Land Lot 206, known as Pine Mountain, was drawn by Robert Fleming of Jefferson County as part of the Second Georgia Land Lottery in 1826.

  • The first mining town to spring up in the area was known as Hixtown. It was located about one mile northeast of the present downtown area. It was changed to Villa Rica (Spanish for “City of Riches” because of the gold) in 1832.

  • Between 1830 and 1840 about 20,000 pennyweights of gold were produced in the area.

  • Most of the gold found here was in the form of gold dust, rather than flakes or nuggets, making it harder and more expensive to mine.

  • 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. However, the cost of mining the gold exceeds its value at today's price per troy ounce.

  • The Pine Mountain site was commercially mined off and on for over 100 years, making it one of the longest running mining operations in the state of Georgia.
      City of Villa Rica | 571 W Bankhead Hwy Villa Rica, GA 30180  |  Phone: 770-459-7000  |  Fax: 770-459-7003
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