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Home North Carolina Alexander County City of Hiddenite Historical Markers Hiddenite


NC-90, Hiddenite, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 53' 36.0006", -81° 4' 46.317"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"A gem found only in N.C., named for W. E. Hidden, mineralogist of N.Y., who prospected in this area about 1880. Mines were nearby."
     As a young boy plowing his father’s field in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains, George Warren came upon some “greenish-colored rocks.” He took the green stones he was not using in his slingshot to hit birds home and shared them with his family. In 1879 Warren’s parents were advised by a neighbor to have a mineralogist examine the unique stones. The expert’s report revealed that the stones were a type of the mineral spodumene, a silicate of lithium and aluminum. However the stone’s color, luster, and rarity qualified it as a precious gem. The following year, J.A.D. Stephenson found an emerald in the same area, part of present-day Alexander County.

     The newly discovered gem was given the name Hiddenite after mineralogist William Earl Hidden. In 1880 Hidden traveled from New Jersey to North Carolina in search of platinum for Thomas Edison. He began prospecting in the area of Alexander County and identified the stone as a rare gem and determined its value to be of $100 or more per carat. In 1881, the Emerald and Hiddenite Mining Company was formed and began systematically mining hiddenite and other minerals in the area. Between 1881 and 1885 there were roughly 100 employees working in the mines. The largest crystal found measured 8.5 inches long and weighed 9 ounces. The town where the mine was located was incorporated as Hiddenite. Eventually the number of gemstones found did not justify the expense of operating the mine and it was closed. In 1907, the mine reopened under the ownership of Edward Turner. He worked the site until his death in 1926. His daughter, Ruby Turner Adams, admitted hopeful prospectors to the property as late as 1974.

      North Carolina is the only state where hiddenite has been found. In 1973, the General Assembly designated the emerald as the official state precious stone. The largest emerald ever found in North Carolina was a 1,438-carat specimen from Hiddenite. The “Carolina Emerald” is now owned by Tiffany and Company and is valued at over $100,000. Today, the Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite is the only emerald mine in the United States that invites the public to search for gemstones.

William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina, 749, (2006)—essay by Jean H. Seaman
S.C. Davidson, “The Hiddenite Occurrence in North Carolina,” American Mineralogist, vol. 12 (1927), 305-307, available at http://www.minsocam.org/MSA/collectors_corner/arc/hiddenite.htm
North Carolina Manual (1983)
The Discoverer of Hiddenite, The State (August 1947)
Adam B. Smith, Hiddenite: The Land of Discovery (2002)
Gasper Leonidas Stuckey, North Carolina: Its Geology and Mineral Resources (1965)
Hiddenite Gems Emerald Hollow Mine Website: http://www.hiddenitegems.com/
Hiddenite North Carolina