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The Georgia Gold Belt

The Georgia Gold Belt image
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The "gold belt" consists of a strip of land running somewhat Lrregularly nearly due northeast and southwest across the northern end of the State. It averages about ten miles in width, and has been traced 200 miles, in length, parallel with the Blue kidge. White, Lumpkin, and Habersham counties embrace the richest deposita, so far asnow known, but the lhnits of mining are gradually widening. ïhe presence of gold here has been known from the earliest times. Oherokee Indians were the occupants of the territory when white settlement first began, and they were occustomed to seek the gold for ornamental purposes, and to dispose of it in barter to less fortúnate tribes. Evidence of their mining still remain, but are insignificant. The methods adopted by the lirst white settlers, and in vogue until recent years, where very rude, consisting merely of washing out the gravel of the beds of the streams by running it through sluice-boxes and splint baskets into a "gum rocker," which was nothing but a split and hollowed out log a dozen or so feet in length. While the water from the sluice box passed through this trough from end to end, the rocker was kept in constant motion, and the heavy gold, pernütted to sink to the bottom through the constantly agitated silt, was caught by transverse cleats, with or without the aid of mercury. It is said that the flrst piece of gold ever taken in the United States belonged to this deposit, and was picked up in 1799 by Conrad Reed, a boy wlio lived in Cabarrus County, ííorth Carolina. It was as large as a smoothingiron, but was sold to a sÜTefBnUtfe for $3 50. Atterward much larger lumps were found: one weighed twentyeight pounds, according to traditlon. This excited so much attention that exploration was begun, and the gold traced southwest, until the borders of the Cherokee territory in Northern Georgia were reached, and prospectors began to encroach upon the reservation. Protests from the Indians naturally followed, and Georgia sent a' large pólice forcé to keep back the invaders, but it was of little avail. The rush to the mines was much like the stampede to the Pacific coast in 1840, and reckless, dissipated men from all quarters of the country flocked in, prowled about the woods, set up log huta and shanty groceries on all the streams, and paid no respect to the rights of the Indians, or any one else unable to defend them. Even United States troops were powerless to keep the lawless hordes west of the Chestatee, and here as elsewhere the discovery of gold was the end of Indian possession and aboriginal simplicity and charm. At present the mines are largely owned by corporations, or by private capitalists who are not


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