Maryland Gold Mine Ruins
During the Civil War, Union soldiers from the 71st Pennsylvania Infantry cleaning pots and pans at camp accidentally discovered gold near Great Falls. The discovery led to the founding of the Maryland Mine Company, which sunk the first mine shaft sunk here around 1867. Mining continued until 1939, mostly after 1915, though it was never very profitable. The site is now part of a hiking area within the Great Falls section of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park.
Backstory and Context
The soldier returned to the area after the war and purchased farmland to start mining for Montgomery County. In 1867, the Maryland Mine Company was founded. This was one of the largest of about 30 small mines in the area. This site is part of the Piedmont Plateau, where gold flecks can be found in rock.
Most of the mining took place between 1915 and 1940 in this area. The gold existing in the ground, which had to be processed out of quartz rock, was insufficient to make a profit. At the end of the mining period, miners were paid $1200 per ounce of gold.
The wooden structures once part of the mind site have been deconstructed but some of the stonework is still visible, as is the base of a water tank, a blacksmith's shop, and entrances to now-sealed mine-shafts. A shaft reaching about 100 feet deep exists near the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Falls Road. The mine contained three shafts in total, with the two most recent (135 feet and 210 feet) now filled and fenced off from public access.
The Gold Mine Spur hiking trail passes by the ruins and a marker along the trail gives the history of the site. MacArthur Boulevard, which leads to the park, is paved with gold-bearing quartz rock from the area of the mines.
Browne, Allen C. The Maryland Mine, Historical Marker Database. May 9th 2017. Accessed April 19th 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=103296.
Ingram, Dianne, and Doug Stover. Historic Mines of Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, CRM 7 (1998), pp. 17-18. Accessed April 19th 2020. http://www.mgs.md.gov/documents/21-7-9.pdf.
Kuff, Karen R. Gold in Maryland, 1987. Reprinted on Maryland Geological Survey website. Accessed April 19th, 2020. http://www.mgs.md.gov/geology/minerals_energy_resources/gold.html.
Ranger Betsy. Gold Mine Trails, C&O Canal Trust. August 28th 2014. Accessed April 19th 2020. https://www.canaltrust.org/discoveryarea/gold-mine-trails/.
WhiskeyBristles. Maryland Gold Mine Ruins, Atlas Obscura. Accessed April 19th 2020. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/maryland-gold-mine-ruins.