Gold in the South: Alabama
Alabama's Gold Rush
Hard on the heels of gold discoveries in Georgia in the early part of the 19th Century, the gleaming yellow metal was also discovered in the Great State of Alabama. The first indications of gold came in placer form in Chilton County along Blue and Chestnut Creeks. By the early 1830s, a mini-"gold rush" took place as thousands of would-be miners poured into the area.
For over 10 years the initial deposits were worked, along with new and richer lode and placer discoveries in Cleburne, Tallapoosa, Clay, and Randolph Counties. However, when news of the unbelievably rich diggings in California's Motherlode Region reached the Alabama mines, most of the mine workings were abandoned as miners pulled up stakes and headed West to seek their fortunes.
Mining Continues After One War and Ends with Another
It wasn't until the end of the Civil war that larger-scale gold mining activities resumed in Alabama. This was especially true during the Depression Era of the 1930s, when another "boom" of sorts took place in the state as "down-and-outters" tried their hand at earning bacon and beans with a gold pan.
With the advent of World War II and Federal closure of significant gold mining activities in the United States, Alabama's placer and lode mines lay idle. But, after the war, small-to-moderate scale mining endeavors were taking place in various locales, though much of this activity had ceased by the mid-to-late 1950s. All told, it's estimated that Alabama produced more than 80,000 troy ounces of placer and lode gold, with lode veins being the largest contributors to this statistic.
The Piedmont Uplift
The state's goldfields occur primarily in a northeast-trending mineralized "gold belt" known as the Piedmont Uplift. The Piedmont is fairly extensive and is approximately 100 miles long by 50-60 miles wide. California's Motherlode extends over 300 miles north to south and is about 75 miles wide, so Alabama's gold belt is not insignificant by comparison.
Any would-be small-scale or recreational gold miners looking to work in Alabama should take heed of the significance of the Piedmont Uplift.
Alabama Gold Counties:
There you have it. If you're living in or near "Sweet Home" Alabama, you may want to try your hand at recovering your share of the state's gold deposits. Remember to respect the rights of property owners and do not trespass on private lands.
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2008