Why Reed Gold Mine is worth the drive, even if you don’t strike it rich

We have passed the sign for Reed Gold Mine a dozen times but never visited. Finally, we made the 30 minute drive to this N.C. Historic Site and it was well worth it.

Photo 1 Credit Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

We packed a big picnic lunch and left plenty of time to wander around the mine, trails and museum. We visited mid-week and practically had the place to ourselves. We spent two or three hours there and were surprised by how much there was to do.

Museum and movie

At the main building, a small museum features the history of gold mining. The exhibits explain the gold rush and the people involved in it. The mine is site of the first documented gold find in the United States.

A 20 minute video gives the history of John Reed’s life.

Gold Mine

This is not for the claustrophobic. It is a self-guided tour, 50 feet down into the earth with 450 feet of restored tunnel. There are dim electric lights throughout, but this is a no-frills, real-live mine.

Photo 2 Credit VMI

Guided tours are offered year-round, Tuesday-Friday, to registered groups of 10 or more people.

During the panning season (April 1-Oct. 31) guided tours are not available to the general public. From November to March, guided tours for the general public usually occur on the hour.

Photo 3 Credit VMI

Stamp mill

Photo 4 Credit VMI

This 121-year-old Stamp Mill is a mechanical engineering landmark. When it was fully operational, it crushed 12 tons of rock per day.

If you are lucky, Daniel Blakemore will be there to give you the history of the Stamp Mill and run a demonstration. He has been the mill’s operator since the 1990s.

Pan for gold

Photo 5 Credit VMI

During panning season (April through October) you can pan for gold for $3.12. The soil comes from the creek on the property. Panning for gold is different from gem mining, and the staff teaches the process to each group or family.

We walked out of there with a fleck. It was worth 10 cents, but nonetheless, it was a big deal.

Hike the trails

Photo 6 Credit VMI

There are 800 acres with 1½ – 2 miles of hiking trails.

Photo 9 Credit VMI

Special events

Photo 7 Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Reed Gold Mine offers special events throughout the year.

“From Mercenary to Miner” is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 18. Learn about John Reed’s life as a “mercenary” through lectures, exhibits and weapons demonstrations by military re-enactors. An admission fee will be charged.


9621 Reed Mine Road, Midland, N.C. 28107. 704-721-4653.

– Free admission, unless otherwise noted

– Pan for gold for $3.12, panning closes at 4pm each day, only available April-October

– Picnic tables available

– Accessible for people in wheelchairs

– Vending machines available for snacks and drinks

Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed Sundays, Mondays and most major holidays.)

Photos: Vanessa Infanzon; Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources