head, in each of the levels which have now been described, or, as it is more
commonly called in mining language, by ' understoping ' or by 'overstoping.'
When the breadth of the lode is equal to that of the level, it is perhaps not
very material which plan be adopted. But when, as at Oldham, Montague, or
Tangier, the lodes are only of moderate width, and much barren rock, however
soft and yielding, has of necessity to be removed along with the ore, so as to
give a free passage for the miner through the whole extent of the drifts, we
shall easily understand that the working by inverted grades, or ' overstoping, '
is the only proper or feasible method. In this case, the blasts being all made
from the roof, or 'back ' as it is called, of the drift, the barren or ' dead ' rock, con-
taining no gold, is left on the floor of the drift, and there is then only the labor
and expense of bringing the valuable quartz itself, a much less amount in bulk,
to the surface of the ground. The accumulating mass of the dead rock under-
foot will then be constantly raising the floor of the drift, and as constantly
bringing the miners within convenient working distance of the receding roof. In
the case of 'understoping,' however, in which the blasts are made from the floor
of the drift, it will be perceived that all the rock which is moved, of whatever
kind, must equally be brought to the surface, which entails much greater labor
and expense in the hoisting; and gravity, moreover, instead of co-operating
with, counteracts, it will be understood, the effective force of the powder."
There is quite a concurrence of testimony that the quartz seams increase in
richness as they descend, although the excavations have not-, as yet, been car-
ried to depths exceeding one hundred feet.
The mining statistics of Nova Scotia exhibit very accurately the average
yield per man, which, in 1863, was 95 cents a day ; in 1864, $1 39 j and in
GOLD MINES EAST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. 337
1865, $2 13. At the rate per diem last mentioned, eacji man employed pro-
duced $684 80 per annum. The Australian estimates of the production per man
of the mining population do not exceed an annual average, since 1851, of $500.
The value of gold produced in Nova Scotia during the year ending Septem-
ber 30, 1865, was $509,080, (paying $18,038 in rents and royalties;) in 1864,
$400,440 ; in 1863, $280,020 ; and in 1862, $145,500. The earliest discovery
of gold occurred in 1860. The productiveness of the mines was not diminished
It can only be determined by a geological exploration, which shall embrace
Lower Canada, Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland,
whether the gold formation of Nova Scotia is associated with the Laurentian
range, or is an extension of the auriferous belt which, first observed upon the
Coosa river in Alabama, extends in a general northeast direction along the eastern
flank of the Alleghanies to the Potomac river, with some partial developments
in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and upon the
Chaucliere river, of Lower Canada. In the latter case, the mining experience of
Nova Scotia may yield valuable suggestions in regard to the auriferous lodes
which are known to be very numerous in the talcose and chloritic schists of the
southern Alleghanies. Since the California discovery of 1848, little attention
has been given to alluvial mining in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia ; and
until recently capitalists fcave acquiesced in the opinion, so confidently ex-
pressed by Sir Roderick Murchison in "Siluria" and other publications, that,
notwithstanding numerous filaments and traces of gold near their surface, the
Alleghany vein-stones held no body of ore downwards which would warrant
deep quartz mining. At present, with twenty years' experience in gold mi-
ning ; with the testimony of miners in Colorado that a lode apparently closed
by cap-rock can be recovered, with increased richness, at a lower depth ; with
other analogies, however imperfect, from the successful treatment of pyritous
ores in Nova Scotia; and with the earnest application of inventive minds to
new and improved processes of desulphurization, it is evident that the working
of the southern mines will be resumed, perhaps with the encouragement of a
scientific survey under the auspices of the general government.
The deposits of gold at the United States mint and its branches between 1804
and 1866 from the States traversed by the Appalachian gold-field are reported
as follows :
Virginia $1, 570, 182 82
North Carolina 9, 278, 627 67
South Carolina 1, 353, 663 98
Georgia 6, 971, 681 50
Alabama , 201,734 83
19, 375, 890 80
If we admit '.hat an equal quantity passed into mamifactures or foreign com-
merce without deposit for coinage, the aggregate production would be about
$40,000,010, of which fully three-fourths, or $30,000,000, was mined between
1828 and 1848. .
It is not the purpose of this report to enumerate the enterprises now organ-
izing for the development of the Alleghany mines, but to recall some evidence,
mostly compiled before the California discovery, in regard to their situation and
H. Ex. Doc. 29 22
338 GOLD MINES EAST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.
The gold veins of Virginia extend through Fairfax, Prince William, Fauquier,
Culpeper, Orange, Spottsylvania, Louisa, Fluvanna, Goochland, Buckingham,
and a few adjoining counties.
In 1837 Professor Benjamin Silliman published (Journal of Science, first series,
vol. 32, p. 98) the results of a personal examination of mines in the vicinity of
Fredericksburg, of which a brief summary will be given. He describes the gold-
bearing quartz as embedded in talcose and mica slate, principally the latter. In
far the greater number f cases the eye detects nothing but quartz, or sometimes
metallic sulphurets of iron, zinc, or lead, and the observer, unless previously in-
structed, would never suapect the presence of gold, either distinct or in the
metallic sulphurets. In the vicinity of the quartz veins rich washings occur.
In Spottsylvania county, on a branch near the Whitehall mine, $10,000 was
taken in a few days from a space twenty feet square, and $7,000 was found near
Tinder's mine, in Louisa county, in the course of one week. It often happened
that successful alluvial mining preceded the discovery of vein mines. Of the
latter several are described :
1. Busty'* mine, situated fifty miles from Richmond and fifty -three miles from
Fredericksburg, in solid quartz veins, fifteen to eighteen inches thick, at depth
of twenty-two feet ; structure of vein coarsely granular, like loaf-sugar, free from
foreign matter except inherent gold, and so white that even when pulverized it
showed no tint of color ; yield on one trial $80 per ton ; on another trial $240
2. Moss mine, near the above ; situated in decomposed slate-rock ; surface of
vein little else than red clay, but firmer, and stratified below ; inclination of rock
and included quartz vein about 45 ; direction by compass north by east, and
south by west; diameter of vein sixteen, eighteen, twenty-four, twenty-seven, and
thirty inches, averaging twenty-four inches; quartz laminar, easily broken. and
separated from slate by blasting, but showing no signs of gold, though examined
by a magnifier; three tests returned $100, $140, and $200 per ton, yet in neither
case was gold visible in quartz or ore.
3. Walton mine, situated in Louisa county, forty miles southwest of Freder-
icksburg ; quartz vein firm and compact ; one foot wide ; occasionally porous
and interspersed with iron pyfttes and a dark iron ore, probably proceeding
from their decomposition; penetrated by two shafts of seVenty and forty feet;
first trial of poor ore, $80 ; second trial of averag,e ore, $160 ; third trial of ore
taken at random, $400 ; fourth trial of specimen, showing gold to the naked
eye, $2,660 per ton ; average of the series of assays, $820 per ton.
4. Culprper mine, situated eighteen miles west of Fredericksburg, upon the
Rapidan ; a tract of 524 acres ; hydraulic power for a twenty-stamp mill ; four
adits with connecting shafts ; main vein ten feet wide, but prone to divide into
strings not larger than a finger, nearly parallel and separated only by portions
of the slaty rock; gold more abundant in these strings than in larger veins;
much iron accompanying the ore; pulverized quartz always red or brown ; iron
pyrites in some places fresh and brilliant, elsewhere decomposed ; strata nearly
perpendicular ; specimens from fourteen localities, mixed together, returned $30
per ton ; specimen from a vein considered rich, but showing no sign of gold,
gave $80 per ton.
In the following paragraph, Professor Silliman only anticipates the experience
of miners at this day :
" Gold is often found in pyritical ores in which the gold is embedded in fine
particles. This mass when reduced to fine powder gives a residium of oxidized
iron about equal in weight to the fine gold, the latter being malleable or flat-
tened, while the former, being brittle, remains rounded or angular. In washing
this mixture in the pan the gold generally remains on the upper side of the
GOLD MINES EAST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. 339
mass, and is therefore more liable to be washed off by the slightest ripple of th^
water. On the other hand, when the gold is embedded in quartz ores, especially
those with fine fractures, called in Virginia ' sugar ore,' or more properly gran-
ular quartz, the gold being of a similar form, is more quickly disengaged, and
appears in larger grains.
"On the contrary, the ferruginous grains, or iron sand, are so fine as to be
scarcely visible, and are invariably found at the bottom of the mass or residuum,
and therefore, as well as on account of their greater weight, are much less liable
to be carried off by the ripple of the waters."
Several successful instances of alluvial mining near the Rapidan are also
mentioned; on a Hempstead farm, $4,000 in 1831-'32, of which nearly $3,000
in sixty days; another instance two or three miles from Rapidan, $12,000; a
third, $40,000; all in the vicinity of the Culpepper mine.
The most remarkable of the foregoing statements relate to the assays of ores
from the Walton mine. Professor Rogers, of the University of Virginia, in-
spected this mine in 1836, and ascertained that in the lower adit leading from
the main shaft, the auriferous vein was twelve inches in width, and that the
talcose rock underlying the vein was also auriferous to a distance of six inches,
and sometimes more, from the quartz. He also observed the continued yield from
the quartz, and the uniform dissemination of the gold throughout the vein, and
the lower enclosing rock. An assay of Professor Rogers returned $280 per ton.
A writer in Harper's Monthly Magazine for December, 1865, describes the
gold mines in the vicinity of Richmond ; having previously given some general
information of the conditions under which gold has been discovered and mined.
"Sienite, gneiss, greenstone, and porphyry," he says, "appear to be the pri-
mary sources, and the pyrites are evidently the immediate matrix of gold. All
iron pyrites contain gold, and often silver, only excepting those of the coal
formation ; and the extensive gold deposits of Virginia may be said to be liter-
ally one continuous belt or accumulation of veins of iron pyrites.
"Most of the gold-bearing rock which has hitherto be eumined in Virginia is
principally a kind of talcose slate, somewhat resembling soapstone, but not so
greasy to the touch. This slate is red and ferruginous at the surface, but at a
greater depth is filled with small crystals of iron pyrites which are decomposed
near the surface and appear as peroxyd of iron, giving the slate a brown or
yellow tinge. This slate is a metamorphic rcfck, and runs in a regular belt
parallel with the Alleghany mountain chain.
" The gold found in the State of Virginia occurs in exceedingly small grains,
often so fine as to be not only invisible to the naked eye, but undiscernible even
by the assistance of a strong lens. This is the case even when the ores are
worth three or four dollars per bushel. Some veins of the slate region contain,
coarse gold in grains as large as the head of a pin, and even larger. These are
generally found in veins of quartz in which the pyrites are concentrated into
larger masses. Where the pyrites are disseminated in fine crystals through the
mass of the rock, the gold is found to be very fine. In the first pyrites the gold
is often invisible, even if after separation it appears to be coarse. By natural
or artificial decomposition the gold becomes visible, the pyrites are converted
into oxyd of iron, and, by aid of a lens, the gold can be detected embedded in
the oxyd of iron. Another form in which the native gold is not unfrequeutly
found in Virginia is in quartz, in whick it is embedded. Solid white quartz,
both in veins and in crystals, is found, in which the gold appears in spangles,
plates, grains, and also in perfectly developed crystals. Throughout the gold
regions of Virginia copper pyrites are found in all the metallic deposits. It in-
variably accompanies the gold bearing iron pyrites, and is always considered a
good indication of richness. Cases have often occurred in which the largest
amount of treasure has been abandoned, because the miners had not the knowl-
edge of proper appliances for separating the precious yield of gold and copper. 3 '
340 GOLD MINES EAST OF THE KOCKY MOUNTAINS.
The writer of the article here quoted proceeds to give many interesting details
of the gold mines of Goochland, Buckingham, and Flu van na counties. Among
these are the Belzoro mine, developing seven veins, which vary in width from
two feet six inches to thirty feet; Marks mine, with four gold-bearing quartz
veins; Waller mine, vein of brown oxyd of iron, six feet thick; Tellurium
mine, sold in 1848 to Commodore Stockton, who is reported to have ex-
tracted $250,000 in nine years; Snead gold mine, of three veins, one of them
being four feet wide, and composed of white quartz, which contains argentif-
erous galena, copper sulphates, and gold ; Ford mine, revealing copper pyrites
largely ; and Lightfoot mine, with four well-known and very rich veins ; all
of which have been worked successfully at different periods since 1 828.
The mineral wealth of Virginia in other respects is unsurpassed by Pennsyl-
vania or any part of the Union.
The gold district of North Carolina extends from northeast to southwest in
the general direction of its leading counties, namely : Guilford, Randolph, Da-
vidson, Rowan, Stanly, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, and Union.
In 1825 Professor Denison Olmstead designated as the district within which
alluvial mining was prosecuted, the counties of Montgomery and Anson, and the
eastern portions of Mecklenburg and Cabarrus as then organized. Gold was
first discovered in a "thin stratum* of gravel enclosed in a dense clay, usually of
a pale blue, but sometimes of a yellow color." This description is easily recog-
nizable as the detritus of th'e gold bearing rock afterwards discovered further
to the west. Many facts of the early success of placer mining on the tributa-
ries of the Pedee might be adduced, but it must suffice, in this connection, to
repeat from Wheeler's History of North Carolina an enumeration of the nuggets
which have been obtained since the first discovery in 1799 :
Tears. Pounds. Years. Pounds.
1799 , 4 1826 16
1803 28 1826 9
1804 9 1826 8^
1804 ', 7 1835 13|
1804 3 1835 4J
1804 2 1835 5
1804 ... 1 1835 8
No more intelligible account of the placers of North Carolina exist than the
-communication of Professor Olmstead in 1825, from which a few paragraphs
will be given. After describing the gold-bearing alluvium as " gravel enclosed
in pale blue or yellow clay," he adds : " On ground that is elevated and exposed
to be washed by rains this stratum frequently appears at the surface, and in
low grounds, where the alluvial earth has been accumulated by the same agent,
it is found at the depth of eight feet ; but where no cause operates to alter its
original depth it lies about three feet below the surface. A miner sometimes
meets a stratum of the ferruginous oxide of manganese in a rotten, friable state.
In some instances the clay is deep red."
Very soon, however, thele gold deposits were traced to the auriferous lodes
traversing a belt of talcose, micaceous, chloritic, and hornblende slates, which
passes through several counties on the east side of another belt of granite and
west of one of trap. These veins, as early as 1828, were described as follows
by Charles E. Rothe, a miner and mineralogist from Saxony: "They occur
in greenstone formation often from two to four feet in thickness and a mile
or more in length, which give assurance that they sink to a considerable
GOLD MINES EAST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. 341
depth. Their general direction is east and west, dipping occasionally 40 to
50 north. The ores and minerals in these veins are rhomboidal iron ore,
prismatic iron ore, pyramidal copper pyrites, and prismatic iron pyrites.
In. the last two is a mechanical mixture with each other. They
show distinct signs of having been changed from their original form.
Where the atmosphere could have any influence on the pyrites we find that
one part of the sulphur has escaped, the consequence of which is, the metallic
appearance of the pyrites is changed to that of brown-reddish oxide of iron, and
owing to this color we can see the fine particles of gold, and ascertain the rich-
ness of the deposit. But where the pyrites have not undergone this change, then
the gold cannot be discovered, owing to the color being nearly the same. The
greenstone near the vein is most generally decomposed, and mixed with a great
number of loose crystals of prismatic iron pyrites. Between the greenstone and
the vein, or at the place of junction, the gold is most generally found."
The gold district of North Carolina is the second belt of the table-land, its
positions moderately elevated, and it is very seldom that the highest hills of
Davidson, Randolph, Rowan, Cabarrus, and Mecklenburg counties are traversed
by vein fissures.
In 1856 a report by Ebenezer Emmons, upon the geology of the midland coun-
ties of North Carolina, was published, which gives a detailed description of thirty
mining localities. Abstracts of his observations upon the leading mines of Guil-
ford, Randolph, Davidson, Rowan, Stanly, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, and Union
counties will best illustrate the characteristics of the auriferous belt through the
State. The order in which these counties are named coincides with their geo-
graphical position, commencing on the north :
1. McCulloch mine, in Guilford county, brown or desulphurized ore, to a depth
of one hundred and thirty feet ; vein two feet wide at surface, increasing to twenty-
four feet, with a dip at rfngle of forty-five degrees ; brown ore, soft and easily
crushed, yielding $30 to $40 per ton, and sometimes $100 ; at level of one hun-
dred and thirty feet, there are six inches brown ore on foot-wall, then copper
pyrites, then a belt of brown ore containing nodules or concretions of pyrites
more or less changed the middle of which is rich in gold, and then the principal
mass of porous quartz against hanging wall, which, though sometimes showing
films of gold, is usually poor ; wall rock, sienitic granite. ,,
2. Fis/ier H'H, in Randolph county; veinstone quartz, with white sulpburet
of iron mixed irregularly through it ; free from copper pyrites ; burnt to advan-
tage ; two to four feet wide near surface ; brittle, and when burnt easily pulver-
ized; average sixty dollars per ton, and gold worth ninety cents to pennyweight.
3. Conrad Hill, in Davidson county, six miles east of Lexington Court-House ;
situated eighty-eight feet above plain to the south; five gold bearing veins from
eighteen inches to two feet at surface ; third vein fifteen inches at surface, widen-
ing to eighteen feet at depth of one hundred feet, and finally developing sui-
plmrets of iron and copper rich in gold ; only four feet rich in gold ; wall-rock
talcose slate, but adjacent country traversed by trap.
4. Gold Hill, on southern border of Rowan county ; product to 1856,
$2,000,000 ; three strong and well-defined veins, one mile east of granitic belt ;
angle of dip 80 ; strata undisturbed by eruptive rocks ; veins associated with
sulphurets of iron and copper ; Earhardt vein worked 400 feet, expanding from
six inches to seven feet, a succession of lenticular segments overlapping at their
edges ; chief difficulties, fineness of gold and heavy giilphurets ; if sand saved
and exposed for a year the bulphurets are decomposed and metal liberated;
in 1854 $136,636 76 obtained in thirteen months from Gold Hill, expense*
$60,331 06, profit $76.305.
5. Parker mine, in Stanly county; most productive parts of rock are natural
joints or quartz seams ; pieces in proximity to natural joints sometimes weighing
a pound : " not a vein, but a decomposed mass with gold distributed in seams ;"
342 GOLD MINES EAST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.
has produced $200,000 ; some masses at rate of eighty to one hundred dollars
6. Reed mine, in Cabarrus county ; productive alluvial mining, as already
stated ; a vein at depth of ninety feet yields twenty- two dollars per ton. A .
Phoenix mine, in Cabarrus, was rich to 140 feet, twenty to sixty dollars per ton ;
but at that level white quartz and sulphate of barytes replaced the brown ore,
reducing yield to five dollars per ton. The Pioneer mine, also in Cabarrus, is
& fissure in granite sixteen to seventeen feet wide, but true veinstone eight to ten
inches ; gold in pure quartz mixed with sulphurets ; yield sixty-three dollars
7. Howie and Lawson mine, in Union county, near the line of South Car-
olina ; fine, white, and granular quartz which near contact with slate-wall rock
is mottled with brown oxide of iron ; on this surface gold visible ; width of vein
six to thirty inches ; average sixty dollars per ton ; some specimens two hun-
dred and twenty dollars; traced three-quarters of a mile; sold in 1856 to Com-
8. Rudisili's mine, near Charlotte, Mecklenburg county ; three veins, three
or four feet wide ; gan'gue slaty, with stripes of quartz and copper pyrites, yield-
ing twenty dollars per ton; quartz brittle and readily crushed; "arrangement
of ore in the lode is usually in rich bunches, connected by strings." Dunn
mine, seven miles from Charlotte, remarkable for limonite produced from iron
pyrites, but unproductive of gold. The gold in the vicinity of Charlotte is
worth one dollar the pennyweight.
Copper mining has also received attention in North Carolina the most per-
sistent and prosperous enterprise of the kind being in Guilfbrd county. The
" Washington silver mine," in Davidson county, produces a great variety of
metals in association with silver, which are difficult to treat metallurgically ; but
the attempt will doubtless be resumed with the aid of improved methods of
The mineral wealth of North Carolina is by no means confined to the eastern
slope of the Blue Ridge. West of that range, between the Snowy mountain
and the Blue Ridge, and its transverse from the upper waters of the French
Broad river to the Lookout mountain, containing 5,000 square miles, there is a
field presented to the mineralogist not perhaps equalled for extent and interest
in the Unitec^ States. ' Smoky mountain constitutes the line between primitive
and transition rocks, and its acclivities are steep and broken, developing familiar
Muriferous combinations. Gold has been taken from all its streams ; and where
the spurs and belts of this mountain have been cut by denudation, veins of quartz
running with talcose slate are very apparent. Gold is often found in quartz
rock, out of place, and much decomposed. Coco creek is a very rich deposit.
Rumors of &ilver deposits were current in the army, during the late military cam-
paigns. This remote interior district will amply reward exploration.
The auriferous belt already traced from Fredericksburg to Charlotte ex-
tends to the vicinity of Abbeville, in South Carolina more restricted in width,
but with indications of greater richness.
Mines of Mr. William Dome, in the Abbeville and Edgefield districts, yielded
gold of the value of $300,000 in fifteen months preceding July, 1853. The