DAHLONEGA, Ga. - Gold is always a popular Valentine’s Day gift, which makes this a perfect week to look back at the history of gold mining here in Georgia.
This morning on Good Day Atlanta, we took a trip up to the Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site, located in the 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse smack dab in the middle of Dahlonega’s historic downtown square. The museum honors Georgia’s legacy as the site of the country’s first major gold rush, something that experts say happened a good two decades before the famous 1849 California gold rush. As we learned during our last visit to the museum — way back in 2018! — a man named Benjamin Parks stumbled upon a gold nugget while deer hunting in North Georgia, and his discovery drew thousands to the hills of Dahlonega in hopes of finding more. In fact, the name Dahlonega actually comes from the Cherokee "Ta-Lon-a Ge-yi," which means "yellow money."
Gold became such a known quantity in the North Georgia mountains that a U.S. Branch Mint opened in Dahlonega in 1838, operating until 1861 and coining more than $6 million in gold. The Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site houses a complete set of coins from the mint, including the super rare and collectible 1861 dollar coin and the 1854 three dollar coin.
Of course, visiting the Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site also gives you the great opportunity to explore the surrounding town, which is crammed full of great restaurants, shops, and wineries. So…what are you waiting for? As they say, "There’s gold in them thar hills!"
The State Historic Site is located at 1 Public Square in Dahlonega, and hours are 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, and $6.00 for youth ages seven to 17; click here for more information on visiting.