Did you know that the first gold found in the Americas was in North Carolina? In 1799 a 12-year-old-boy named Conrad Reed was playing in Meadow Creek on his family’s farm in Cabarrus County and found an unusual pretty-looking rock weighing about 17 pounds that he took home to show his father. Since the locals were inexperienced at identifying gold, the family used it as a door stop for about 3 years. Curiosity getting the best of him, Conrad’s father took the rock to a local jeweler who recognized the rock as rough gold and offered to buy it. Unfortunately, Reed did not know the value of what he had brought in and sold it to the jeweler for $3.50 (equivalent to $66.28 which was approximately 1 week pay for farm labor at that time). Thus began the first gold rush in the Americas called the Carolina Gold Rush.
After learning of the value of the rocks on his land, John Reed entered into a partnership with Federick Kisor, James Love, and Martin Phifer to continue mining gold on the farm. In 1803 the men found another nugget weighing 28 pounds. At this time the only mint in the Americas was in Philadelphia and it was difficult and dangerous to haul the raw gold there. A bill was proposed to Congress by Samuel Carson, a Rutherford County resident, to open a mint in Rutherfordton but it never reached a vote. By 1824 over 2,500 ounces of gold had been deposited in the Philadelphia Mint from North Carolina. In 1835 Charlotte, NC became the first branch mint in the US.
Among the thousands flooding NC in the 1820-30s was the German jeweler Christopher Bechtler who bought land in Rutherford County in 1830 and began his own unsuccessful search for gold. A year after Bechtler and his family moved to the area, gold miners urged him to create a market for raw gold by opening a private mint. In 1832 Bechtler minted the country’s first $1 gold coin, 17 years before the US Mint. He also minted coins in $5 and $2.50 denominations. During the mid-1800s, the Bechtlers minted more than $2.24 million in gold coins. A $5 Bechtler gold coin is worth $50,000+.
Gold is still mined in NC at Vein Mountain on US- 221 at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains just south of Marion. In the works is the North Carolina Gold Trail that will be a heritage destination trail spanning NC. You can pick up the Gold Trail at the Bechtler House Heritage Center and the Mint’s Historic Site in Rutherford County.
Brandy Gold Car – Pear brandy, Cointreau, fresh squeezed lemon juice; Gold Fashion – Remy Martin XO, brown sugar cube, spiced cherry bitters; Gold Rush – C & K American brandy, lemon juice, honey syrup; Pot of Gold – CB Frost, Sour apple, coconut milk, pineapple juice; Brown Gold – Clear Creek apple brandy, Clear Creek pear brandy, St. Germaine, vinegar, malic acid, simple syrup; Worldly flight 1/2 price