From the dome of Atlanta’s Capitol to University of North Georgia's iconic Price Memorial Hall gold-covered steeple and the Smithsonian-worthy Chestatee River Diving Bell, Dahlonega’s gold legacy lives on. Located on top of the largest gold deposits found east of the Mississippi River, gold was first discovered completely by accident in the Dahlonega area in 1828, 20 years before the Gold Rush to California. Deer hunter, Benjamin Parks, tripped over a rock 2 ½ miles south of what is now Dahlonega and, upon inspecting the rock, he discovered that it was full of gold! Within one year’s time some 15,000 miners rushed to Dahlonega to find some gold for themselves. At that time there was so much gold in and around Dahlonega that it laid on top of the ground. Gold had been washing off the mountainsides for centuries.
Most of the gold that could be mined economically has been removed from the earth below Dahlonega, dug and carried out of many tunnels by miners since 1829. However, you can still experience a taste of America’s first gold rush in Dahlonega as you pan for your fortune in one of the area’s creeks and rivers and at the Consolidated or Crisson Gold Mines -- or you could always cross your fingers and hope to trip over that stray nugget. Tour an old gold mine and visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum, Georgia’s oldest, which offers visitors an up close look at Georgia’s gold mining history, including a complete collection of gold coins -- worth a small fortune -- minted right here in Dahlonega..
Experience Gold Fever in Dahlonega! The Gold Fever Package offers discounted tickets to local gold attractions where you can learn about the history of the Dahlonega Gold Rush, explore an underground gold mine, and try your hand at panning for gold yourself!
Twenty years before the 1849 gold rush to California, thousands of gold seekers flocked into the Cherokee Territory of northeast Georgia, beginning the nation's first major gold rush.
According to an interview conducted by the Atlanta Constitution in 1894, Benjamin Parks first discovered gold in the Lumpkin County area while deer hunting in 1828.The courthouse building was built using locally made brick which includes trace amounts of gold. The building served as the seat of Lumpkin county government from 1836 to 1965. it is the oldest existing courthouse in Georgia of 132 historic courthouses.
The building was restored by the state of Georgia as a State Historic Site and adapted for use as the Gold Museum and is one of the most visited Historic Sites in the state.The Dahlonega Courthouse Gold Museum offers visitors a look at the mining history of Georgia. A 23-minute film describes the mining techniques and lifestyles of the prospectors through interviews with members of long time mining families of the area.
185 Consolidated Gold Mine Road, Dahlonega, Georgia 30533
Open Mon - Fri 10am-4pm; Sat & Sun 10am-5pm. Closed some holidays.
The Consolidated Gold Mines and gold processing mill, built in the early 1900's, was the largest gold mining operation east of the Mississippi River. Most of the mill buildings are gone but the tunnels deep below in gold bearing rock still remain. Travel 200 feet underground and 100 years back in time to explore those same tunnels with the Underground Adventure package, where you and your family will enjoy a 40 minute underground adventure of the mine with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members. As you descend the stairs, you will hear tales of miner’s struggles to uncover gold deep within large Quartz veins. Your tour guide welcomes interaction from the group as you experience life as a miner at the turn of the century. After your tour, you will receive gold panning instructions from some of the best panners in the world, having won numerous awards in the field. Then you will get a chance to try if for yourself and hopefully you’ll strike it rich!
The Mines remain at a comfortable 60 degrees year round. Tours are conducted daily. Your tour guides are actual miners who are open to questions during your tour of underground mine tunnels. This is a walking tour - guests enter the mine via three flights of stairs and two ramps. Tennis shoes are recommended and closed toed shoes are a must! Flip Flops are not permitted for the Underground Adventure. Strollers are not permitted in the mine.
2736 Morrison Moore Parkway East, Dahlonega, Georgia 30533
See website for hours of operation. Closed certain holidays.
Crisson Gold Mine is an actual open pit gold mine that was established in 1847, and was worked commercially until the early 1980s. At Crisson Gold Mine, there is a 125-year-old stamp mill that is still used to crush quartz rock which contains gold. This crushed rock is called ore. In addition to the stamp mill, the mine has rod mills and jaw crushers that are occasionally used. All of these antique gold mining machines along with the open pit mine can be seen when you visit the gold mine.
Crisson Gold Mine sells ore by the 5-gallon bucket, so you can pan for the gold at the gold mine, or you can take the ore home with you.
For our more serious gold miners, trommels are available for your use during your visit to Crisson Gold Mine. These machines are used to separate the gold from the sand at a much more efficient pace. Several buckets of ore can be finished in less than half the time it takes to pan them out. The use of the trommel is free when you purchase six (6) buckets of ore. This is a great mining experience.
Crisson Gold Mine also has Gem Stone grubbing. You can find rubies, emeralds, sapphires, crystals, amethysts, garnets, and many more. This dirt is from Franklin, North Carolina which is famous for its rubies and sapphires. There have been some very good quality gems found at Crisson Gold Mine and some gems have even been made into jewelry.
"Possibly the only remaining example of a 19th Century diving bell in existence.”
- Wreck Diving Magazine
As a must-see artifact from the Gold Rush days, the Chestatee River Diving Bell exhibit and plaza is located in downtown Dahlonega’s Hancock Park at Hawkins Street. One preservationist called it the “…first bell of its kind found within the archeological record.” The Bell, which dates from the Civil War, was first used to scan the Mississippi River in New Orleans and used to help divers breathe underwater while scanning river bottoms. In 1875, Philologus Loud, an inventor and entrepreneur, brought the Bell to Georgia, where it stopped in Gainesville, Georgia before moving to Dahlonega by a Southern Express wagon. The following year, a ship carrying the Bell sank in the Chestatee River and the Bell stayed submerged until 1983, when it was discovered. The submarine-style, maritime artifact was restored around 2003 and is destination Dahlonega’s newest Gold attraction!
View “The Legend of the Smith House Mine!” In 1895 Captain Frank Hall, a Dahlonega businessman and entrepreneur began building a new home, storage area and office (for assaying gold, of course). According to legend, Hall struck gold - literally - as he was building the home.
Over 100 years later, Captain Hall's home is now The Smith House Historic Inn & Restaurant. On February 12, 2006, while preparing a concrete floor, a worker unexpectedly punched a hole into a mine shaft. The Smith House shaft had a vertical fall of twenty feet ending at a spot where two horizontal mine shafts came off - one in the direction of the Gold Museum. Local historian Anne Amerson called it a "truly remarkable find." Today the mine shaft opening is the centerpiece of an exciting exhibit that digs deep into the history of Dahlonega at the Smith House. The Smith House is also a world-famous, family-style dining establishment serving seven decades of tradition.
Madeleine K. Anthony Park, located at the corner of South Chestatee Street and Morrison Moore Parkway was named for local historic preservation champion Madeleine K. Anthony and includes a public pavilion with picnic tables, beautiful trees, and flowering bushes. The city gateway park showcases a life-sized reproduction Stamp Mill, a machine used during Dahlonega’s gold mining days to crush ore so the gold could be extracted. The fully operational stamp mill, complete with a splashing water wheel and accompanied by an interpretive plaque, is a favorite stop for visitors and locals.
Visit the University of North Georgia's iconic Price Memorial Hall with its gold-covered steeple. Price Memorial Hall stands on the foundation of the civil war era U.S. Branch Mint, erected in 1837, that operated until seized by the Confederates in 1861. It produced gold coins estimated to exceed $6,000,000 in value. In 1871 the mint building and ten acres of land were transferred to the state for use as an agricultural college, largely through the efforts in Congress of Representative William Pierce Price, founder of North Georgia College and President of its Board of Trustees until his death in 1908.
The mint building was destroyed by fire in 1878 and in the following year a second building was constructed on the old foundation walls. The new structure came to serve as the college administration building and in 1934 by action of the state Board of Regents was named the Price Memorial Building to honor the founder. Leafing of the steeple with gold from the surrounding hills was sponsored by the Dahlonega Club to commemorate in 1973 the 100th anniversary of the college.
Though you may not strike it rich, in most cases the wealth is in the experience! While you can usually pan no more than a few cents worth of gold in an hour, there's always a chance of finding a stray nugget. Recreational panning for gold in most streambeds is allowed. Special permission, permits, or fees are not required when only a shovel and pan are used and no significant damage is done to the streambed. In-stream sluices and suction dredges are not allowed.
Contact the Blue Ridge Ranger District office at (706) 745-6928 to determine whether the mineral rights of a stream are publicly or privately owned or if any restrictions have been placed on the stream.
Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber & Visitors Bureau | 13 South Park Street | Dahlonega, GA 30533 | (706) 864-3711 or (800) 231-5543.