Weekend fun: Dahlonega’s Consolidated Gold Mine

This Consolidated Gold Mine is the hidden gem of Dahlonega.The year was 1828, two decades before the California Gold Rush. Benjamin Parks, a humble deer hunter, tripped over a rock, an awfully shiny specimen — gold. .One year later, roughly 15,000 miners had flocked to the North Georgia town of Dahlonega for their shot at a wealthier life. .Those miners burrowed their way into the mountain to form what is known today as the Consolidated Gold Mine, a family-friendly underground gold mine tour unlike any other.The tour takes guests 200 feet underground into the mine to a number of inspiring sites, as experienced alongside a number of incredible stories

The year was 1828, two decades before the California Gold Rush. Benjamin Parks, a humble deer hunter, tripped over an awfully shiny rock and set off North Georgia’s gold rush.

In the year that followed, roughly 15,000 miners flocked to the North Georgia town of Dahlonega for their shot at a golden future. Those miners burrowed their way into the mountain to form what is known today as the Consolidated Gold Mine, a family-friendly underground gold mine tour unlike any other.

“Today visitors to Dahlonega are invited to see the original tunnels by way of guided tours year-round where the tour guides are open to questions about the gold mining history of the Dahlonega area and the largest gold mining operation ever established east of the Mississippi River,” the mine’s website states.

The underground tour doesn’t take long, a little less than an hour. But, it’s a unique opportunity to venture a century back in time. The tour takes guests 200 feet underground to a number of inspiring sites where they’ll hear some incredible stories.

“As you descend the stairs, you will hear tales of miner’s struggles to uncover gold deep within large quartz veins,” the website explained. “Your tour guide welcomes interaction from the group as you experience life as a miner at the turn of the century.”

The tour, however, is only the beginning. It’s the free gold panning that gets guests hooked for return visits.

“After your tour, you will receive gold panning instructions from some of the best panners in the world, having won numerous awards in the field,” the website said. “Then you will get a chance to try if for yourself and hopefully you’ll strike it rich!”

After finishing the tour, guests are given the option to purchase different panning experiences beyond the free offering. Gemstone mining is where many get down to business.

Different packages come with different sized tubs of sand, each guaranteed to be full of rare gems. Guests are given a communal bench to rest at as they fill their pan with the gem-rich sands and pan under a conveyer of water. This panning experienced can provide hours of relaxing fun — as well as a tidy collection of beautiful rubies, topazes, obsidian and much more.

Once the panning is done, guests can turn their findings into wonderful keepsakes, including necklaces, rings and more.

“Miner Rick has been cutting and faceting gemstones for over 40 years,” the website said. “His skill is unbelievable as he sits patiently each day transforming rough gemstones into sparkling jewels fit for a king. Let him turn your finds into wearable keepsakes.

“Miner Josh works in our Gem Studio cutting and faceting stones, mounting stones and in sales. He is working on completing his apprenticeship under the direction of Miner Rick. Josh’s portfolio is growing quickly and his skill level is outstanding, having cut some very complex designs.”

Open seven days a week, rain or shine, the Consolidated Gold Mine offers tours at $21.95 per adult and $14.95 per child. Those looking to strike it rich in gem mining can purchase packages from $30 for a small bucket to $1,000 for 55 gallons-worth of gem-rich sand.

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