To write this blog, I referred to http://www.ncmountainlife.com/mountain-gem.php.
North Carolina’s tourism sector depends mainly on traffic drawn to its exciting coastal shores and beautiful Appalachian mountains. The Appalachian mountains are known for their abundant mineral, coal, and gemstone resources. The gemstone mining community of North Carolina is very important to North Carolina’s heritage as a state. Gemstone mining also draws a lot of tourists to the moutain region.
According to the above cited article, “They have provided the area with more types of gemstones than are found anywhere else in the United States. More than fifty pounds of sapphires were found in the area in the 1800s, and that is how the town of Sapphire received its name. In fact, North Carolina is the only state where all four of the hardest stones in the United States are found: diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire. Gold from North Carolina was used to mint the first gold coins, and the largest emerald, weighing over 1,600 carats, was found here as well.”
One town in particular, named Franklin, fames itself for its abundant precious stone resources, On its chamber of commerce’s website, http://www.franklin-chamber.com/visitorInformation/gemMining.asp, this pride is made evident. The town is self-acclaimed to be the “gem capital of the world.” Whether this statement is truly accurate, I do not know.
One site that is very attractive to tourists is a town known as Hiddenite. This town prides itself on being home to more than sixty three different minerals and gemstones. According to this website: http://www.hiddenitegems.com/, “many of these are very rare, including emerald, aquamarine, sapphire, garnet, topaz, amethyst, citrine, rutile, and tourmaline, along with an abundance of world class smoky and clear quartz crystals. Hiddenite is also famous as the only place on earth where the very rare gemstone “Hiddenite” can be found!” One mine in particular, the Emerald Hollow Mine, is the only emerald mine in the United States that tourists are allowed to prospect.
According to one journal I found online, North Carolina was also the leading gold prodicing state in the United States until the California Gold Rush. What was gold mining like back then? Well, this article also provides insight into this question: “Reed Gold Mine, the earliest known mine in the nation, resulted from a 1799 discovery and for decades was only worked haphazardly. The size and purity of the nuggets led prospectors to establish a number of mines around the Charlotte area, but few proved to be of lasting value. Essentially defunct after the 1850s, the Reed mine and surrounding property changed hands many times, avoided large-scale development, and today is a state historic site.”
Obviously, North Carolina’s rich mining history has allowed it to grow into the state that it is today. Without these mines, tourism would suffer, and North Carolina just wouldn’t be as freakin cool as it is.