Reed Gold Mine
1930s drawing of 1890 engine house
Sketch of 1830s gold mining operation
Restored tunnel at mine
Tourists panning for gold
Backstory and Context
After leaving the British army at the end of the Revolutionary War John Reed (Johannes Reith) settled in lower Piedmont of North Carolina. In 1799 John Reeds son Conrad found a large yellow rock in Little Meadow Creek on the Reed farm. The rock was heavy enough to be used as a door stop, it reportedly weighed 17 pounds, and the Reeds used it as such for three years.
In 1802 a jeweler identified the rock as gold and bought it for a fraction of its real value. The year after that John Reed formed a partnership with three local men to dig for more gold in the creek bed. Mining mainly in the off season from farming, the men discovered an amount estimated at one hundred thousand dollars by 1824.
Following Reeds success other Piedmont farmers began looking for and finding gold on their own land. In 1825 the search led to underground mining, but Reed miners did not work underground until 1831. John Reed died in 1845 as a wealthy man and the Reed mine was soon after sold at public auction. The last underground work at the mine was in 1912.
Today the Reed mine has restored portions of the underground mine for guided tours. It includes a visitor center with displays of gold and historical mining equipment. There is also a film that highlights the first gold discovery along with tours of a restored ore-crushing stamp mill. The mine offers a picnic area and trails throughout the site.