Draft and in Review_V_7/2/13

Gold Hill Mining District –

Rowan and Cabarrus Counties, North Carolina

The Village of Gold Hill, NC is part of the historic Gold Hill Mining District (Figure 1). Gold Hill is located within the Gold Hill shear zone (a major geologic fault that separates the Charlotte terrane from the Carolina terrane in central North Carolina) and is the namesake for the fault. A comprehensive review of the history of gold mining in North Carolina and Gold Hill can be found in Knapp and Glass (1999). A review of the economic geology aspects of the Gold Hill Mining District can be found in Laney (1910). Pardee and Park (1948) provide a summary of mining activities for the district. Four principal mining areas and numerous prospects have been worked in the Gold Hill Mining District. Mining areas include: 1) the Gold Hill mine workings, Union Mine workings, Whitney mine workings, and the Southern Copper and Gold Mining Company workings.

Figure 1: Interactive map of the Gold Hill Mining District with major mines indicated with annotation. The Gold Hill Historic Park occupies land that was part of the Gold Hill Mine. Base map from Pratt (1908).

Click on a mine area to learn more:

Gold Hill Mining District map Gold Hill Mine Workings Area Union Copper Mine Whitney Mine Southern Copper Mine workings

Gold was first discovered in the district in 1842 (Knapp and Glass, 1999). By the late 1850’s, Gold Hill had extensive underground workings reaching in excess of 300 feet in depth with numerous drifts totaling thousands of horizontal feet. Before the Civil War, the Gold Hill Mining District had developed the reputation as the South’s most successful gold producing district. Gold production from two of the most productive shafts, the Barnhardt and Randolph, in the Gold Hill mine workings area – now part of the Historic Gold Hill and Mines Foundation land – contributed greatly to the success of Gold Hill. In the mid- to late-1850’s one-third of the deposits at the Charlotte mint were from Gold Hill. Over a seven year period, the Gold Hill Mining Company (owners of the Barnhardt and Randolph shafts) deposited approximately 21,500 ounces of gold (Knapp and Glass, 1999).

Mining in the district continued on and off after the Civil War. Starting in the 1880’s and 1890’s with the development of electricity and electrical equipment utilizing copper, several improvements and mining ventures occurred. The Union Copper Mining Company and the Gold Hill Copper Mining Company were formed transforming Gold Hill into a copper mining district with gold and silver as secondary metals. From the 1880’s to 1915, the Randolph shaft operated by the Gold Hill Copper Mining Company, was extended to over 800 feet depth with over 2000 feet of horizontal drifts. Active mining in the district ended in 1915-1916. Pardee and Park (1948) reported that since the end of active mining, periodic near-surface work and attempts to treat parts of the tailings dump occurred and that the Whitney Mine was dewatered and sampled in 1935. Total production of gold from the Gold Hill district was approximately 160,000 ounces (Pardee and Park, 1948).

Modern Geologic Studies of the Gold Hill District

Modern investigations into the geology and nature of the mineralization of the Gold Hill district are sparse. Feiss (1982a and b) and Feiss et al. (1993) interpret the deposits of the Gold Hill district as syngenetic polymetallic, volcanogenic, massive sulfide deposits. Unger (1982), as part of a master’s thesis, examined and logged drill core from the Union Copper Mine area, conducted field reconnaissance, compiled existing geochemical data, and collected new geochemical data from rocks in the Union Copper Mine area. Unger (1982) interpreted the Union Copper deposit as a zone with significant mineralization up to 75 meters thick that consists of cherty and vitric tuff with interbeds of chloritic, biotitic, or talcose schists. Above the mineralized zone is sericitic, vitric tuff with minor lapilli-tuff interbeds; below the mineralized zone is coarse-grained volcaniclastics. Unger (1982) reported the ore mineralogy as pyrite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, and galena with minor barite and trace amounts of gold and silver concentrated in massive to near massive lenses. Unger (1982) interprets the Union Copper deposit as a syngenitic massive sulfide body.


Carpenter, P.A., 1993, (second reprinting 1999), Gold in North Carolina, Information Circular 29, North Carolina Geological Survey, 51 p.

Feiss, P. G., 1982a, Ore deposits of the northern parts of the Carolina slate belt, North Carolina: in Bearce, D.N., Black, W.W., Kish, S.A. and Tull, J.F., eds., Tectonic Studies in the Talladega and Carolina Slate Belts, Southern Appalachian Orogen: Geological Society of America, Special Paper 191, p. 153–164.

Feiss, P. G. 1982b, Geochemistry and tectonic setting of the volcanics of the Carolina slate belt, Economic Geology, 77(2), 273-293.

Feiss, P.G., Vance, K.R., and Wesolowski, D.J., 1993, Volcanic rock–hosted gold and base–metal mineralization associated with Neoproterozoic–Early Paleozoic back–arc extension in the Carolina terrane, southern Appalachian Piedmont: Geology, v. 21, p.439–442.

Laney, F.B. 1910 (reprinted, 1995). The Gold Hill Mining District of North Carolina, Bulletin 21, North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey, Raleigh, 137 p.

Knapp, R.F. and Glass, B.D., 1999, Gold Mining in North Carolina, Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Raleigh, 192 p.

Nitze, H. B. C., and G. B. Hanna, 1896, Gold deposits of North Carolina, Bulletin 3, North Carolina Geological Survey, Raleigh, 198 p.

Pardee, J.T., and Park, C.F., Jr., 1948, Gold deposits of the southern Piedmont: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 213, 156 p.

Pratt, J. H., 1908. The Mining Industry in North Carolina During 1907 with Special Report on the Mineral Waters, Economic Paper 15, North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey, Raleigh, 176 p.

Unger, H. E., 1982, Geology of the Union Copper Deposit, Gold Hill District, Central North Carolina, unpublished M.S. thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 86 p.

Other Resources:


Link to map from Laney (1910):
Map of Gold Hill from 1856 by Ebenezer Emmons:

Geologic Oriented Geocaches with Gold Hill as a destination:

Gold Hill: A Good Fault: http://coord.info/GC23040

Gold Hill: Quartz -- Puzzler and Provider:  http://coord.info/GC218JC

Gold Hill: Classifying Rocks: http://coord.info/GC218HY

Gold Hill: Mudstone Magic: http://coord.info/GC1Y1KE

Gold Hill: Anatomy of a Gold Mine: http://coord.info/GC1XQRB