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A Modern Day Gold Legend in Georgia

August 20

You know how they say “what comes around will go around?” Well I never did give much thought about that expression, but after 1 day in the hills of North Georgia, how that would all change. How one true story changed my life forever and will change someone else’s one day too.

 As I have grown old and not in good health, the golden treasures I have found, can not be gotten by these weak hands and spent in the same lifetime. I leave these gold discoveries behind, in the hopes some other adventurer will scoop them up and work them out of the clear North Georgia Waters. When you have stayed single for a lifetime and never had any children, there is really no one around you can pass your knowledge on to. So I will pass mine on to all Georgia Residents, who have the time, desire, and passion to search for a treasure that not only exists, but would be a retirement package for even the most well-to-do folks living and working in our community.

History of Cherokee County Gold

Gold can be traced all the way back to the Indians living in Cherokee, County. Their last piece of land in Georgia they would ever get, before the forced migration that would later be known as the Trail of Tears. Two years prior to this, the Cherokees had worked on a tunnel in the area of Hightower. It was during 1836 and 1837 the Cherokee Indian Tribe would construct a secret tunnel, so in case of the rumors about the Indian Removal were true, they would have a place to hide their valuables; which did include gold. The Cherokees at this point and time were good gold prospectors. They used a lot of their own knowledge and combined it with the ways of the White Men for prospecting gold and it proved very effective in the red dirt, in which they found a lot of gold.

The Cherokees did manage to get the tunnel complete, while only working during the night time hours, so no one would know where this very sacred spot was located in Georgia. The present day area of the Forsyth and Cherokee County lines are an approximation of where the tunnel may have been constructed almost 175 years ago. The idea was to hide it and then come back for it later. Most probably didn’t know the trip they were about to go on would lead them so far away from Georgia and make a return trip very unlikely for most of the native Cherokee people to Georgia. The Trail of Tears would end half-way across the country in Oklahoma.

The tribe of Cherokee Indians in Georgia would later hear about the gold rush in California and some of these Cherokee Indians, now living in Oklahoma, would pack up and head west. Out there they were able to settle a new area of land and they called this Cherokee, California; which is still recognized today. Thomas Edison owned and worked a mine in Cherokee, California, so he took care of a lot of the electrical needs miners needed back then. These mines were a lot better to work with the electrical fans and pumps created by Edison and it made these the best mines in California around the 1860’s era of mining out west. This area was in Butte County California, where the first homes with running water in California, were built right here in Cherokee.

The interesting thing about Cherokee, California was some of the people who visited this area. In 1880, the President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy Hayes visited the hydraulic gold mining area of Cherokee, California. Along with the President and his wife, were John Bidwell and General William T. Sherman from the Civil War. Now Bidwell had discovered gold in Feather Creek and also was hired around the time gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill; which John Sutter hired him. General Sherman, who famously burned Atlanta down in the Civil War, took a path right through the former Cherokee Nation of Canton, Georgia. It was out of the way from his southern targets of Atlanta, Savannah, and the Atlantic Ocean; while Sherman’s troops came in from Chattanoonga. It never was really clear why General Sherman went through Cherokee County and ordered for Canton to be burned down in October of 1864. The current Georgia Governor was Joseph E. Brown and he worked and lived in Canton, GA. Another theory suggests it was due to McCollum’s Scouts who may have threatened those sympathetic to the Union cause. Could it have been the rumors of gold and a tunnel filled with gold, left by the Cherokees? Why did the General seek out the Cherokee Indians in California in 1880? Maybe the General and even President Hayes were in search of the forgotten treasures in Georgia and needed the Cherokees help to find the tunnel? No one has ever found the secret Cherokee Tunnel and it still remains hidden in 2010.

One of the things which is interesting today is the Etowah River. A river which starts up in Dahlonega, Georgia and is located in Lumpkin County. It runs pretty close to 98 miles from the start until it flows into the Allatoona Lake in Canton, GA. Most of the information online is from me or my people with the statistics for the Etowah River, so they are the most accurate numbers you will find, compared to other estimates online for the Etowah River. This river has proven to be a rich source of gold and has almost carved a path through the middle of the Georgia Gold Belt.

In Cherokee County, you have a rich history of gold being found to the north in the Franklin Gold Mines and around the Creighton Gold Mines. While in the south you have the Sixes Gold Mines which proved to have gold in the southern end of the county. All of this gold being found in the north and in the south, sorta made the central part of Cherokee County gold-less or free of gold. I wanted to learn what made these two areas so rich for gold and why the land in between was like a ghost town for gold prospecting.

It didn’t take long to find an answer to my gold questions in Cherokee County. The reason no gold has ever been found in between, the discoveries to the north and the gold found down to the south, was because no one had ever tried to look for it. The town of Canton had too many other things going on and other business avenues were being pursued. Many of the folks living just to the North of Canton didn’t have much else to do, other than to look for gold. The same was true in the Sixes area and how gold was discovered there. There are a couple of public mining projects that have taken place in Canton or very near, but not a lot of information can be found.

La Belle Mine – Cherokee County

Most people will quickly push the Le Belle Mine in Canton as part of the Sixes Mines just to the south of these mines. I wouldn’t, because there is more gold veins in this area discovered and undiscovered; than you can find up in the Auraria area of Georgia, which still holds a fair share of the shinny yellow metal. This gold is in veins and does required to be mined out. Not real easy to access this gold, but a few creeks in the area offer small flakes of placer gold deposits, for anyone that has the time to scoop up the small stuff. Also, this area produces a much more pure form of gold than any where else in the state or it would appear to offer it, based on public records and knowledge of the area.

Canton Mining Works was another company in the area that did blast mining; which was an advance form of hydraulic mining in the 1850 – 1860 mining era in Canton, Georgia. They would take a network of shafts that would run hundreds of feet long. Some would go down about 200 feet and they would take gunpowder or dynamite and blast material away, inside these underground shafts. The Canton Mining Works was one of the largest crews around who were using these blast mining techniques. All in an effort to find the heavy deposits of gold in and around Canton, Ga.

A new 2010 mining operation is about to begin in North Canton and not too far from the Canton Lake. This company out of Chicago is preparing to mine coal out of a 1,084 acre farmland property; that just lies about 1  1/2 miles northeast of the Canton Lake. Coal may not be the only thing that gets discovered at this mine. If these miners have a keen eye and know what to look for, there is a good chance they will run into some gold, running through some of the underground rocks in North Canton.

The Etowah River is the key to unlocking all of the golden treasures that are currently just waiting to be found in the Cherokee County Area. If you learn the River, you will learn her secrets. There is a lot of great fishing you can do all up and down the Etowah River in Canton. These huge strippers are even more fun to catch than the big flat-head catfish the fishermen in South Georgia like to catch. 3 types of Darter Fish are on the Federal Watch List for endangered species and they are the Cherokee Darter, Amber Darter, and theEtowah Darter. The Etowah Darter is very special to the Etowah River, since this is the only place in the whole world where this fish exists! I think most of these so called “fish experts” working for the government, would be surprised to see all the Darter fish swimming in the Conasauga River which is in North Georgia too. The lake Sturgeon is a fish the DNR is trying to reintroduced into the Etowah River and if anyone catches the Sturgeon, they should release it safely back into the water. Most have probably seen the signs and warnings posted up and down the Etowah River about the Sturgeon.

Rare Etowah Darter

The best way to begin a Etowah River journey, is to leave from Knox Bridge boat ramp on Highway 20 going toward Cartersville. Go toward your left and under the Knox Bridge and you are traveling up the Etowah River. Once the river becomes 50 feet in width and not 300 feet; you can keep a lookout for your first main tributary that flows in from the left side of the Etowah River. This is Shoal Creek and you can travel a few miles up it, before the water gets too shallow for crossing. You will see an old Civil War Bullet Foundry as you make your way up the shoals going toward Waleska. If you stay straight on the Etowah River, you will go right up the middle of Canton, Georgia and these parts of the river hold so many clues. Clues of where the gold might be leaking into the river from and where.

I will leave the story right here for now and will tell more later. The Etowah River isn’t the holder of all the precious gold that lies around Canton, GA. It is a trail to which anyone can use to lead them right up to the exposed gold veins; which continue to deposit flake after flake of beautiful gold into our water ways in Cherokee County.

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Posted by on August 20, 2010 in Connections

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3 responses to “A Modern Day Gold Legend in Georgia

  1. jamey

    September 26, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Really was moved by this article. I was born at the old R.T, Jones hospital in 1971 and until recently never took much intrest in the history of my hometown.Just been to busy building a business and raising 2 beautiful boys, But something has changed in my heart. I want to find a new purpose. I have studied gold panning the last few years amd have only been a couple of times with no luck. Until reading this blog I didnt realize that the true treasure I seek id not the color in the pan but the promise of adventure , and what better place to start this adventure than here in Cherokee county where it all began. I feel blessed to be here after reading all the rich history of the area. I would love to dive into the mysteries and adventure the great ETOWAH river offers. I already enjoy her beauty as an avid fisherman and cant wait to learn more about the hidden past she boasts. I think this could be the start of a great lifelong journey that I could share with my 2 young adventurous boys, ages 8 and 4. Please let me know if you would be interested in sharing more of your obvious passion for this great adventure, I would be honered to help carry the torch.

     

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