CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Looking at the Charlotte skyline you might not realize there's something pretty amazing underneath all of those skyscrapers.
Actually, a couple of hundred feet down below there are several abandoned gold mines. All of them aren't too far from Bank of America Stadium, right in the middle of the popular South End neighborhood.
The first documented discovery of gold in the U.S. goes back to 1799 in Cabarrus County, near what is now Midland, North Carolina. That led to the opening of the Reed Gold Mine in 1803. Through the year 1853, an estimated $10 million worth of gold was mined in that one location.
Gold was first discovered in the Queen City in 1825, just south of the center city. Mining started above ground, known as "Placer" mining. Eventually, everything went underground.
People eventually came from Europe to help mine the gold under Charlotte's streets. Miners came from England, Ireland, Italy, France and Germany to dig for precious gems. One of those mines, just outside Uptown, had nearly 1,000 workers.
Even more gold was found in Charlotte. Enough that by 1835, the Charlotte region was known as the gold mining capital of the U.S. At one point, there were over 80 mines operating in Mecklenburg County alone.
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Around that same time, President Andrew Jackson approved Charlotte as the site of a branch of the U.S. Mint. It was built on West Trade Street, near the current federal courthouse. Gold coins were minted there, beginning in 1837.
If you take a stroll down the aptly named Mint Street, you're literally on top of the old veins of gold. The St. Catherine mine was at one end, the Rudisill at the other. There's nothing you can actually see today, but just know if it wasn't for the Carolina Gold Rush, Charlotte would still be just another small Southern town at the South Carolina border.
In fact, on a trip down South, George Washington called it "that trifling place." When he needed a place to stay the night, Washington chose Salisbury! Click here to learn more about Charlotte's "golden" history.
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