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Want to strike it rich? Then try your luck panning for gold in North Carolina

The historic Reed Gold Mine allows visitors to try to uncover their own gold nuggets.

MIDLAND, N.C. — Less than an hour's drive east of Charlotte, there's a place that'll make it feel like it's still the gold rush.

Reed Gold Mine is in Midland, North Carolina, and is where the first documented gold was discovered in the United States.

According to Reed Gold Mine, then-12-year-old Conrad Reed was playing near Little Meadow Creek in 1799 when he found a 17-pound yellow rock. History says the Reed family didn't know what Conrad had discovered, so they took it to a silversmith in nearby Concord. But since no one had identified gold in America yet, the silversmith didn't know what it was. 

At that point, the Reed family decided to use the yellow rock as a doorstop.

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But Conrad's dad, John, was still curious about the rock. He brought it to a jeweler in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The jeweler told John Reed it was actually a gold nugget and that he could cash it in for a week's worth of wages to John Reed, which equated to $3.50. John Reed took the jeweler up on his offer, not knowing the actual value of the gold nugget was closer to $3,600.

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Despite the underpayment, John Reed formed a mining partnership and started working to find more. The first authenticated discovery of gold came in 1803 when an enslaved person named Peter found a 28-pound gold nugget. According to research, that remains the largest gold nugget found east of the Mississippi River to date.

Since its beginnings, people can still pan for gold in the historic Reed Gold Mine. 

Visitors can explore underground mines and even see a restored stamp mill. It's free to access the mine and facility, but to pan for gold, it costs $3.21 per pan during panning season, which runs from April through October. 

To learn more about the Reed Gold Mine, visit their website.

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