In the first of America's great gold rushes, the so-called twenty-niners came to Georgia in search of the purest gold on the face of the earth. They scoured North Georgia, taking over Cherokee and Spanish mines that had not been used for one hundred fifty years or more. They fought with the elements, themselves and the Cherokee to mine this yellow metal that means so much to so many.
An anti-Indian movement begun by Thomas Jefferson and the state of Georgia soon after former President Washington died culminated in the Cherokee removal of 1838 commonly called the "Trail of Tears." Forced to leave without any belongings, many Cherokee buried gold across much of North Georgia.
At least that's the story that precludes many of these legends of unbelievable wealth. Intrigued by the recent resurfacing of a rumor of gold, we set off to see which of the legends had the most factual support - for example, mention in a contemporary newspaper. Each of these three fit into this catagory, although we will not reveal the factual support for our first story in order to protect what little remains of it.
In Duluth, near the junction of Craig's Creek and the Chattahoochee River, at what was the southern extreme of Cherokee country was a village with a significant population. Remains of cabins and shards of pottery were just some of the findings that verify the existance of this village. Anywhere from a couple of pots to seventy five pots of gold, depending on whose story you believe, were buried by the members of the village shortly before The Trail of Tears. According to legend, a group of Cherokees visited the area and may have recovered the gold in 1909. But did they? While records exist of Cherokee returning from Oklahoma on many occasions, it can not be verified that any group or single individual visited this location. Of course, if you were returning to recover buried treasure, would you advertise that fact? Other areas that have been rumored to have gold buried by the Cherokee are Scarecorn Creek and Talking Rock Creek in Pickens County, and Shallow Rock Bridge Creek near Canton, Georgia. Of course, two of the greatest loads of gold may be buried beneath the waters of the Chattahoochee, but that is a different story.
Many other legends of lost gold exist in Cherokee country. One of the most widespread is a story about a cave filled with gold. Often called the Waterhouse Treasure, it was discovered by William Waterhouse in 1890. Reports of the cave were even printed in Chattanooga papers. "William Waterhouse, a young white farmer of Keith, Georgia...claims to have found a cave in the fastness of the mountains.." Ernest Andrews, who wrote "Georgia's Fabulous Treasure Hoards" claims to have found a Waterhouse family who owned a hotel in Cohutta, Georgia, a few miles east of Keith. He guesses that the cave would be located on Rocky Face, based on earlier research. This, by the way, would put it almost exactly in the middle of the old Cherokee gold fields.
Within 10 minutes of Toccoa, Georgia is a pile of gold nuggets in a cave. Taken to the pile by an old Cherokee whom he befriended, a bus driver on the Atlanta to Charlotte run picked up as many nuggets as he could carry with the permission of his Cherokee friend. 10 minutes later he was dropped in front of the Toccoa bus station. Blindfolded on the way in and out, the driver spent his off-hours looking for the cave for the rest of his life to no avial. Is this just one of those "urban myths" we here about so often? Friends of the driver saw the nuggets. This pile is in a cave, and the driver checked the time on his watch.
But these are the known stories of gold. Want to look for some on your own? Simple. Find a very old birch tree(at least 160 years or more). Climb up aways and look for carvings. If you find one with a dot in the middle of a triangle, the tree represents one corner of the triangle. Find the other two trees and start digging somewhere near the center. If you find a dot in the middle of a diamond, it means the gold is buried near the tree.
The lost Cohutta mines, Treasure of Blood Mountain, and lost gold, underwater, are future treasures to be discovered. Also, we will discuss the ghost towns of White Sulphur Springs, Nuckolsville, and many others.
Know of an interesting tale of gold lost in the North Georgia Mountains? We would like to hear about it. Even if it's just an old story passed down in you family, it would probably make interesting reading, and we might just find some evidence to back it up! You never know. Use the "Feedback" button at the bottom of the page to give us the details and we will be back in touch. Happy Hunting!
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