Gold in the Southeast: Virginia

Virginia is a great state and holds a special place in my own heart since I have spent quite a bit of time there. For many years I had relatives living and working in Rockbridge County and I myself lived in Virginia for two years while attending graduate school in Rockingham County in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

A Long Mining History

But I digress. This post is about gold in Virginia and the state has a long history of mining both lode and placer gold. In fact, placer gold mining began in Virginia in or around 1804, followed by discoveries of the placer sources and the inevitable lode gold mining. There were a number of large nuggets and unique pieces of specimen gold recovered from the early mining days in Virginia, and some of these can still be seen in mining museums, including (please correct me if I am wrong here) the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Significant gold mining continued off and on in Virginia until the 1940s when the Federal government halted nearly all gold mining operations in the United States.

The Virginia "gold belt" is said to run from Fairfax County in the north to nearly 150 miles south and west, roughly paralleling I-95. There are also some mines and placer areas a bit further south in Floyd and Goochland Counties. Other counties containing gold are:










Prince William



More than likely many of the potential placer gold areas in Virginia lie on private property so do your research first. The last thing you want to do is trespass and "bring the heat down" on other placer gold miners in the state. It's tough enough these days finding open areas to prospect and mine, so please don't make things worse for all of us. Also note that you cannot file a mining claim on public lands in Virginia because the state did not sign the 1872 Mining Law agreements.
Active Mining Clubs
From my own experience and research I know that the State of Virginia has a very active small-scale or recreational mining community, including a number of prospecting/treasure hunting clubs. If you live in Virginia or are anticipating a trip there this summer, you might want to do a quick search online and contact one of these mining clubs. One thing I learned during my time in Virginia is that the people there are friendly, solid, hard-working folks who are always willing to lend a helping hand. So why not?

Until next time, take care.

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2008