Gold 'n Gem Grubbin' was North Georgia's last commercially operating Gold Mine and was formerly a productive part of the Loud Mine in Cleveland, GA. It is said that prior to the Civil War, the Loud Mine supplied two of the seven million dollars of minted gold bullion coins at the nearby Dahlonega Mint. At the time, the Dahlonega Mint was the only branch mint for the United States.
After the Civil War, some gold mining resumed in Georgia but never gained the momentum it had previously.
We formerly used a type of mining called "Placer Mining". Placer mining is a form of gold mining associated with the streams and rivers where they run today and where they ran in the past. The ancient river beds in the gold belt areas usually yield the greatest amount of placer gold. Placer is gold that has been washed away by natural erosion from the main vein in the hills. The flatland at this mine, which is locally called "the bottoms" is a placer gold deposit. That is, over many thousands of years, the river traversed across these bottoms to where the tree line is today.
Placer gold also comes from gold that has broken away from small sub-cropping auferious veins that traverse these bottoms. They are called stringer veins and this is where the larger nuggets usually come from. Gold cannot travel very far and it travels in a straight line. One major study stated that gold would travel no further than 1,500 feet from it's source. That is why 95% of gold is the size of sand. Over thousands of years of movement, even so ever slight, the gold particles are naturally reduced in size by the earth's constant wear and tear.
The Dahlonega Gold Belt was the largest producer of gold in the country up to 1849. When the rich gold discoveries in California caused a rush to the west, it resulted in the abandonment of the Georgia diggings.
The process we previously used here was placer mining but the scars of the hydraulic mining used by the early miners are present in the form of ruts in the hills.
Placer mining is basically strip mining. Stripping away the overburden, the dirt on top, and thus exposing the gravel layer about 4 to 6 feet down. We then dug up the ancient riverbed which is from 2 to 15 feet in depth, right down to bedrock. Bedrock is the granite rock that prevented us from digging further and where the majority of the heavy gold lies. We did take a foot or so of the bedrock which is decomposing so that any gold trapped in the little crevices can be extracted as well. We then hauled this "head ore" to our mining plant and ran it through the mill for washing, sizing and gold extraction.