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Home North Carolina Mecklenburg County City of Charlotte Historical Markers Gold Mines

Gold Mines

Southe Boulevard at Bland Street, Charlotte, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Charlotte was center of region's gold rush after 1825. Rudisill & Saint Catherine, among largest mines, were near here."
     Of the roughly 700 gold mines operated in North Carolina in the nineteenth century, the Rudisill and Saint Catherine mines were the largest in Charlotte, identified by Fletcher M. Green in 1937 as the “center of the gold region.” In 1896 the state reported that “gold is probably as widely diffused in Mecklenburg as in any other county . . . the productive area covers about 600 square miles, within which are well nigh 100 mines.” By that time around six of those were worked but “only two or three with vigor.” The Saint Catherine Mine and Rudisill Mines, located approximately 2500 feet apart, were at opposite ends of the same vein of gold, two to six feet in thickness. Saint Catherine was opened to a depth of 460 feet while Rudisill extended down 350 feet.

     Samuel McComb was the first to discover gold in Charlotte striking his find in 1825 just west of Irwin Creek near the present-day intersection of Morehead and Graham Streets. He soon after founded the Capps Hill and McComb Mines, but these did not rival Rudisill (gold found there in 1826) and Saint Catherine in size, production, and length of operation. Outside investors, first Count Vincent de Rivafinoli and later Englishman John Penman, leased Rudisill and Saint Catherine in 1830 and consolidated them into the Mecklenburg Gold Mining Company. Their investment and influence helped convince the federal government to locate a branch U.S. mint in Charlotte in 1835. The Europeans introduced to the North Carolina gold mining industry the latest technology such as Chilean mills, arrasta mills, steam engines, flotation mills, fully equipped laboratories, and stamp mills. Costs of operation rose as digging extended below the water table requiring pumping and ventilation. Operation was sporadic after 1848. Rudisill was among the few mines operated during the Civil War. It was reopened from 1880-1887, 1905-1908, and 1935-1938. The last work at Saint Catherine was done in 1887.

Richard F. Knapp and Brent D. Glass, Gold Mining in North Carolina: A Bicentennial History (1999)
Richard F. Knapp and Robert M. Topkins, eds., Gold Mining in History, Geology, and Culture: Collected Essays (2001)
Herman J. Bryson, Gold Deposits in North Carolina (1936)
P. A. Carpenter, III, Gold in North Carolina (revised, 1993)
LeGette Blythe and Charles Brockmann, Hornets’ Nest: The Story of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (1961)
Mary Norton Kratt, Charlotte: Spirit of the New South (1992)
Jeff Forrett, The Mines and Miners of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina (1998)
State Board of Agriculture, North Carolina and Its Resources (1896)
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
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