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Hunting for gold in Virginia

Hunting for gold in Virginia

Prospecting and panning for gold in Virginia is of increasing interest to people living in the eastern part of the United States. Panning is easy to do and there is a long streak of gold deposits in Virginia. Treasure hunting with a metal detector is also very popular. Revolutionary War and Civil War battles were fought here and many caches of valuables, including gold coins and jewelry, were hidden from opposing forces. Relics from Civil War battles are frequently found by treasure hunters using metal detectors.

Virginia gold nugget in the Smithsonian Institution

Excellent specimens of gold nuggets found in Virginia are in the U.S. Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution). Should you find a nugget, keep in mind that even small gold nuggets are worth far more than their weight in gold. Gem and mineral collectors, rockhounds, mineral museums and geology departments of universities seek them. Jewelers use them in making jewelry, such as pendants. Small nuggets are used to make gold earrings. Big Tenís Virginia Gold Map shows 200 gold mines and prospecting locations from official geological records of the State of Virginia and the federal government. Gold sites are shown in these 15 counties: Buckingham Culpepper Cumberland Fairfax Fauquier Floyd Fluvanna Goochland Halifax Louisa Orange Patrick Prince William Spotsylvania Stafford.

Gold Mines in Virginia

The streak of gold mines and prospecting areas in Virginia starts in Fairfax County near Washington, D.C. and trends southwest for about 140 miles. The gold mines and prospects parallel Interstate 95 just west of Dumfries and Fredericksburg and continue southwest into Buckingham County, about 25 miles east of Lynchburg. Some other gold mines and prospecting areas are further south near South Boston and in Floyd and Patrick counties.

Heavy concentrations of gold mines and prospecting sites are seen near Fredericksburg and Wilderness along the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers. Another large group of mines and prospects occurs along the Fluvanna / Goochland county line.

Virginia Gold Mining History

Historical information herein is from documents written by geologist Palmer C. Sweet of the Virginia Division of Mineral Resources.

Placer gold mining started in Virginia about 1804. Lode gold mining quickly followed. The only known reference to gold in the southern Appalachians published in the 18th century appears in Thomas Jeffersonís notes on Virginia wherein he described a piece of ore, found in 1782 on the bank of the Rappahannock River, that yielded 17 pennyweight of gold. Gold from Virginia and South Carolina was sent to the mint in 1829 and from Georgia in 1830.

A U.S. Geological Survey document, in referring to the southern Appalachian region, states that a real boom was under way and, press reports of the period contain such headlines as "Number of gold mines increasing daily," "Farmers find gold in every hill," "Moneyed men from every quarter of the Union purchasing land at extravagant prices," "Mills are building," "Mine produces 160 pounds of pure metal in one week," "Gold digging amounts to mania." Virginia Gold Hunt


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