University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries
University of Georgia Libraries
hargrett library :: Gold 2017

Gold-digging in Georgia: America's First Gold Rush

June 5 - December 5, 2017


California's romanticized gold rush days obscure a longer history of American gold mining, one with deep roots in the southern Appalachian Mountains. A history of north Georgia from the late 1820s until the Civil War is a story of America's first major gold rush, a southern one that preceded the California frenzy. This antebellum Appalachian gold rush served as one of the many southern paths to industrialism. It was a crucial developmental period in Appalachian industrial history and that of the nation's mineral economy.

Georgia gold fever while profitable was also destructive as it remade local economies, societies, and environments. In pursuit of wealth, miners ripped apart stream beds and hillsides, cut down forests, and erected miles of wooden flumes and towns of wooden shacks. Public and private mints sprang up to transform precious metal into currency and, with the help of the state and federal governments, speculators obsessed with the prospect of riches drove the Cherokee from Georgia.

Featuring the Thomas Leverette McMullan Reed Creek Collection of Dahlonega Mint Coins, this exhibit uses maps, rare books, letters, photographs, and artifacts to illustrate Georgia's gold mining history. Support for this exhibit was provided by the James W. Woodruff, Sr. Center for the Natural History of Georgia and the Stephen E. Draper Center and Archives for the Study of Water Law and Policy.

All events will be held at the Special Collections Library, Richard B. Russell Building, 300 South Hull Street, on the University of Georgia Campus. Parking is available at the Hull Street parking deck immediately adjacent to the Library.



(All events are free and open to the public)

Family Day

Saturday, June 17th

1-5 p.m., Special Collections Libraries (Front Lawn and Second Floor)

Family Day, a family friendly event to tour the galleries, craft activities, and scavenger hunts.

Dr. Drew Swanson

Thursday, July 13th

6 p.m., Special Collections Libraries Auditorium (Second Floor)

Dr. Drew Swanson lecture and reception From Georgia to California and Back: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Southern Gold Mining

Dr. Stephen Mihm

Thursday, September 21st

5:30 p.m., Special Collections Library Auditorium (Second Floor)

Dr. Stephen Mihm lecture A nation of counterfeiters: capitalists, con men, and the making of the United States