Dahlonega Gold Museum (48 miles from Blue Ridge)
Contrary to popular opinion, the gold rush did not begin in California; it began in Georgia. A full 20 years before the rush to the west, thousands of prospectors flocked into the Cherokee Nation in North Georgia, marking the true beginning of our country’s first gold rush. Dahlonega thrived in the midst of this as home to a U.S. Mint, opened in 1838, that coined more than $6 million in gold.
Today, visitors of the Gold Museum can see a complete set of these rare coins, a nugget weighing more than five ounces, a large hydraulic cannon and nozzle used to blast soil from mountainsides, a film and gift shop. When you visit, take a close look at the brick work; you’ll see gold flecks in many of them.