After gold was discovered in Georgia, prospectors began working in Alabama. They had a "Gold Rush" following the discovery of gold in 1830 in Chilton County along the Blue and Chestnut Creeks tributaries. Around 1830, discoveries were made, and thousands of miners worked for a decade. Then the California gold rush took the miners to the mother lode, and the mines were abandoned during the Civil War. After the Civil War, work took place until World War II. In the 1930s, with the rise in the price of gold, another boom lasted until 1942. Since then, Alabama's gold fields have been almost completely idle. From 1830 to 1990, Alabama produced nearly 80,000 ounces of gold. Cleburne, Tallapoosa, Clay, and Randolph Counties found the most important deposits. Only Cleburne and Tallapoosa Counties produced more than 20,000 ounces of gold. Gold discovered in Alabama comes from lode and placer sources.
Significant amounts of gold have come from Alabama, making it one of the better gold-producing states east of the Mississippi River. Gold has been found in lode and placer deposits, most coming from areas in the east-central part of the state up next to the Georgia border.
The first major strike occurred in 1830 at Blue Creek and Chestnut Creek, and significant gold discoveries continued throughout the coming years. Gold has been found throughout Talladega, Tallapoosa, Chambers, Coosa, Clay, Chilton, Elmore, Cleburne, and Randolph Counties.
In Talladega County, the Riddle Mine and Story Mine both produced lode gold, with placers found in Talladega Creek.
Tallapoosa County contains numerous gold districts, including the Hog Mountain district, one of the biggest gold producers in the state. The cyanide leaching process recovered much of the gold here, but creeks nearby produce placer gold. In addition, the Talladega National Forest has many streams that contain placer gold.
Coosa County has plenty of good areas to placer mine, with significant mining history in the early gold rush days. For example, the Gold Ridge Mine produced gold as a byproduct of copper mining, and placer workings occurred along Hatchett Creek, Weogufka Creek, and the Rockford placers.
In Clay County, placer gold can be found at Crooked Creek, Tallapoosa River, Wesobulga Creek, and many other streams throughout the county.
Chilton County has gold in Coosa River, Blue Creek, Mulberry Creek and its tributaries, and Rocky Creek. Numerous unnamed drainages will also produce placer gold for a hard-working prospector.
Some of the most valuable placers in Alabama are found in Cleburne County. Waters in the Chulafinnee Mining District will all produce gold. Lode Mines are scattered throughout the county, with copper and gold as the predominant metals. In addition, rich gravels can be found throughout these areas.
Alabama has produced fine gold as well as sizable gold nuggets. Gold is also found in ore, although often it is low grade and must be extracted by cyanide leaching.
Some prospecting opportunities exist on public land in the Talladega National Forest, but much of the richest gold ground will be on private land. Therefore, seek permission from landowners before doing any prospecting on personal property.
Alabama in the Hog Mountain Area
Much of Alabama's gold has been produced at Hog Mountain and the Hillabee mine. Both hard rock areas are credited with more than 25,000 ounces. Gold is found in lode form, and the cyanide heap leaching recovers most. The operation of the mines has been sparse, and they have been closed since 1950. Active mining in the lode mines continued until World War II, but little has been done. However, large-scale dredge mining for placer gold went on almost continuously. Alabama's gold fields occur in a northeast-trending belt about 100 miles long and 60 miles wide in a region known as the Piedmont Uplift. The Piedmont Uplift covers approximately 3,500 square miles in Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Elmore, Randolph, Talladega, and Tallapoosa Counties.
For further information, write Alabama State Geologist, Geological Survey of Alabama, P.O. Drawer O. University, Alabama 35486.