The Carolina Slate Belt is a gold rich strip that runs from Virginia, south through both North and South Carolina and ends up in Georgia. Numerous rivers and streams throughout this areas contain placer gold deposits.
Although most people knew of the gold in the US as a result of the California Gold rush, the first gold discovery in the United States was in North Carolina within the Carolina Slate Belt. Gold was first discovered in the United State in 1799 in the Little Meadow Creek in Cabarrus County, North Carolina.
Although this discovery did not garner as much attention as the California discovery, it attracted quite a number of miners nonetheless. In fact most of the experienced gold miners who moved to California, during the California Gold Rush had honed their skills mining areas along the Carolina slate belt. Following the first gold discovery, several other discoveries were made on slate and thus developed several gold mines.
Geology of the Carolina Slate Belt
The Carolina Slate Belt is majorly made up of rocks that were first deposited on the earth’s surface from volcanic eruption and then sedimentation. The slate is thus characterized by low grade metamorphism that gives a large number of rocks here a slaty cleavage. The Inner Piedmont for the most part is made up of metamorphosed intrusive rocks often occur as different sorts of gneiss. The whole Piedmont is underlain at a depth of around 20 km by a region that emphatically reflects seismic waves. This region is often viewed as a series of faults along which the upper piece, including the uncovered part of the Piedmont, moved westbound over a suite of totally unknown rocks. The fault may twist upward toward the west and rise to the top as one of the various thrusts in the Appalachian Mountains.
The slate is made up of low grade metamorphosed volcanic and slate cleavages. The mountainous Piedmont of North Carolina isolates the Triassic-Jurassic rift basin and the level Coastal Plain from the hilly Blue Ridge and Appalachians.
The Coastal Plain comprises of Mesozoic-Cenozoic sediments created when the North Atlantic Ocean got to be wider, and the Triassic-Jurassic rift basin was filled by sedimentary rocks washed into the rift formed during the opening of the Atlantic Ocean. The Raleigh Belt and Eastern Slate Belt contain rocks like those of the Piedmont. These, however, are only exposed to the east of the Triassic-Jurassic basin and their association with the Piedmont is not very clear.
The Piedmont can be divided in two the western and the eastern areas both made up of two very different rock suites. The eastern part is the Carolina Slate Belt while the western part is often referred as the Inner Piedmont. A number of geologists often combine the Carolina Slate Belt and Inner Piedmont into what is generally known as the Carolina Terrane.
Two of the major gold mines on the Carolina Slate Belt include:
Haile Gold Mine
This mine developed from a gold deposit that was discovered in 1827 on the farm owned by Benjamin Haile in eastern Lancaster County near Kershaw in South Carolina. The mined operated through to the early 20th century when the gold deposits ran out. This mine was one of the most productive gold mines on the slate during its initial years.
The Dorn Mine
This is another great mine on the Carolina slate Belt. The mine is located in McCormick County in South Carolina. Gold at the mine was first discovered by William Burkhakter Dorn in 1952. The mining at the Dorn mine begun soon afterwards and lasted for over 120 years. Today there is much going on at the mine. The Slate has several other mines produced quite a significant amount of gold. In fact most major gold mines in both North and South Carolina are located on the Slate.
Numerous other smaller placer mining operations are found throughout Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. All of the richest gold-bearing areas within these states are found within the slate belt.
Mining has been done throughout this area for over 200 years, but there is still good amounts of gold to be found in the creeks and rivers within the Carolina Slate Belt. Researching areas around the old mines is a good place to start looking!