The First Gold Rush

Dahlonega in North Georgia

   Dahlonega which means “gold” in the Cherokee language is the county seat of Lumpkin County, in north Georgia.  It was the traditional territory of the Cherokee Nation.  In 1828, however, Dahlonega was the site of the first major gold rush in the United States.  In less than a decade during the Georgia Gold Rush, the boom town’s population increased from a few hundred to more than seven thousand. Mining continued into the 1930s.

Gold Nugget

    Miners invaded the lands of the Cherokee Nation, trespassing to start illegal mining operations. Their desired to displace the Cherokees so they could mine the gold was one of the reasons behind the removal of the Cherokees to Oklahoma which led to the infamous Trail of Tears.

     In 1838 the United States Mint built a branch mint there. The Confederate Treasury Department took over the facility after the declaration of secession and operated it until June 1, 1861.  It was not reopened after the Civil War.  The coins minted there are prized by collectors. 

     The old Lumpkin County Courthouse built in 1836 now houses the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. From its steps in 1849, Dahlonega Mint assayor Dr. M. F. Stephenson tried to persuade miners to stay in Dahlonega instead of joining the California Gold Rush, saying, “There’s gold in them thar hills.”

    Today, Dahlonega and the surrounding area are popular as a destination for weekend miners, vacationers, and shoppers.  For more information:

Tomorrow:   The Crack in the Liberty Bell        Rita Bay

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