GOLD LOCATIONS IN South Carolina
Gold Panning and Prospecting in South Carolina
Gold was first discovered in the Greenville district around 1802. The state's first recorded shipment of gold to the US mint was from a Lancaster Placer Mine in 1829.
While many counties have gold occurrences, lode gold is usually found in two major belts of metamorphic rock containing sericite, schist, and phyllite.
Carolina Slate Belt - Containing the state's most well-known gold producing areas, is a series of rock formations running NE from Union and Anston Counties in South Carolina to Person and Granville Counties in Virginia. In South Carolina, gold mostly occurs in Lancaster and Chesterfield Counties.
Kings Mountain Belt - Narrow belt running NE from Abbeville County and McCormick Counties to Cherokee and York Counties. Kings Mountain mine in North Carolina was the largest producer within this belt.
The Carolina slate belt and major gold mines (modified from Hatcher and Butler, 1979).
A placer deposit is a concentration of a natural material that has accumulated in unconsolidated sediments of a stream bed, beach, or residual deposit. Gold derived by weathering or other process from lode deposits is likely to accumulate in placer deposits because of its weight and resistance to corrosion. In addition, its characteristically sun-yellow color makes it easily and quickly recognizable even in very small quantities.
The gold pan or miner's pan is a shallow sheet-iron vessel with sloping sides and flat bottom used to wash gold-bearing gravel or other material containing heavy minerals. The process of washing material in a pan, referred to as "panning," is the simplest, most commonly used, and least expensive method for a prospector to separate gold from the silt, sand, and gravel of the stream deposits. It is a tedious, back-breaking job and only with practice does one become proficient in the operation. Thankfully, technology finally caught up with our gold fever and brought us metal detectors!
Most of South Carolina's early production was from placer deposits, with the most productive being the Tanyard Pit and Brewer Mine (1.5 miles west of Jefferson). The Martin Mine (1 mile west of Smyrna) has also produced a considerable amount of placer gold. In fact, a gold nugget weighing 27 pounds was recovered in a field just north of this mine in the 1890s.
You can always ask for permission to hunt on any private property, but there may also be several places you can pan and metal detect in public access areas. Lands offering some great potential may be controlled by the National Forest Service. Contact the local Local Forest Ranger for more information including maps, regulations, and mineral rights. Permission and permits may be required for related activities.
South Carolina's largest gold producing counties are: Cherokee, Chesterfield, Greenville, Lancaster, Oconee, Pickins, Spartanville, Union, and York.
RELICS, COINS, & JEWELRY
South Carolina has a rich history of early settlements and Civil War battlefields - the perfect combination for an energetic relic hunter! Here's a few more ideas to get you started:
Schools and College Campuses
Parks / Playgrounds / Picnic Areas
Foundations, Wells, and Cellar Holes of Old Churches or Houses
Downtown Construction Sites
Swimming Holes, Beaches, and Natural Springs
Camp Grounds, Boy Scout Camps, WPA Camps, and Mining Camps
Rodeo Arenas, Riding Stables, and Race Tracks
Old Fair and Carnival Locations
Old Town Dumpsites
As in other areas of the US, there are several tales of lost treasure in South Carolina concerning caches buried for safety. In many of these stories, people either died or forgot where they buried the stash. Contributing factors include:
1. Fear of Sherman's "foraging" troops during the March to the Sea
2. Distrust of banks during the Great Depression.
Most treasure stories relating to this state concern pirate loot, such as treasure hidden at the appropriately named Pirate House on Church Street, Charleston; the site of old Fort Randall; Tilghman's Point on Little River; and Murrell's Inlet in Georgetown County.
These excerpts are a sampling from American Coin Treasures and Hoards