You expect to see gold on display when you visit Reed Gold Mine in Midland. After all, it is the site of the first documented discovery of gold in the United States.What’s unusual is an opportunity to see gold from a real pirate’s treasure.For the next month – until April 5 – the Reed Mine Historical Site is hosting a traveling exhibit called “Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge: 1718.” It features items recovered from a shipwrecked vessel belonging to Blackbeard the pirate.Actually, the piece of pirate gold on display is pretty small; you can find a bigger chunk if you’re really lucky in the gold mine’s panning area. But there’s a lot more to this exhibit than pirate booty.Artifacts from everyday life were recovered from the Queen Anne’s Revenge: a pipe stem and bowl, dinner plates and cask hoops. There are also items you’d expect to find on a pirate ship, like cannon balls and lead shot. The exhibit is a fascinating look into everyday historic life in an unusual setting – aboard Blackbeard’s ship. The Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground near Beaufort, N.C., in 1718, but the items on display were raised from the wreckage in just the past few years.It’s going to take about two years for this traveling exhibit, on loan from the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort, to make its way across the state. Reed Mine site manager Larry Neal explained that benefits come with an exhibit like this. First, it provides an opportunity for people all across the state to see these artifacts from the coast and share in the excitement of discovering these historic treasures. Second, people who have never visited the Reed Mine, or the other historic sites that host the Blackbeard exhibit, may come for the pirates, but learn more about North Carolina history in the process. Also, Neal pointed out, it’s fascinating to tie bits of history together. At the Reed Mine, the Blackbeard exhibit gives the staff an opportunity to talk and teach on the history of gold as currency.This kind of learning is fun. Besides the artifacts, the exhibit includes video on how items were recovered from the sea floor, a model of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and interactive touch screens that give information about Blackbeard’s crew and his adventures. Kids can ring a bell, run up the flag, learn about 18th-century navigation, make an eye patch and pose for pictures with a pirate mannequin.Neal expects school groups will flock to the site this month. Spring at the Reed Mine is usually busy with school tours, but the added attraction of pirates is a bonus.The last day of the Blackbeard exhibit, April 5, coincides with the day that panning, which closes in the cold months, will open. Neal expects that will be a busy day at Reed Mine as folks come out to find treasure of their own.
Friday, Feb. 28, 2014
Blackbeard artifacts on exhibit this month at Reed Gold Mine in Midland
Want to go?
“Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge:1718” is free and open to the public 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site on Reed Mine Road in Midland. Groups of more than 15 are asked to call 704-721-4653 in advance.
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com.
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