Featured Dahlonega, GA: a short story

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by CoinCorgi, Jun 15, 2024.

  1. CoinCorgi

    CoinCorgi Tell your dog I said hi!

    Dahlonega, Georgia

    I recently visited the city of Dahlonega, Georgia. The area has been on my must-see list for quite a while for several reasons - “there’s gold in them thar hills”; there was a branch mint of the U.S. Mint located here; hiking; wine tasting. The numismatic angle is what put the place on the map for me. I’ve cobbled together a few notes about the area - enjoy and please post pictures of any and all Dahlonega coins!!!

    On a side note, I also visited “low country” - Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA – both within easy drives of the Dahlonega and Atlanta (airport access) area. Somewhat ironically, though, it wasn’t actually low country but Dahlonega where I had the best meal of the trip – a delicious “Low Country Boil”! Yummy.​

    Fun fact: The name Dahlonega is from the Cherokee-language word Dalonige, meaning “yellow” or “gold”.

    Georgia Gold Belt & Georgia Gold Rush

    The largest quantities of gold found in the eastern United States were found in the Georgia Gold Belt, extending from eastern Alabama to Rabun County, Georgia (with smaller gold deposits found farther north). The discovery of gold in the Georgia Gold Belt in 1828 led to the Georgia Gold Rush. The historic cities of Auraria and Dahlonega were the primary beneficiaries of the gold discovery. In 1838, a branch mint of the United States Mint was opened in Dahlonega and operated until 1861.

    Map of Georgia Gold Belt...
    Map of Gold Belt.jpg

    Fun fact: gold found in the Georgia Gold Belt is close to 24 karat (100%) purity.

    Gold Museum

    The Dahlonega Gold Museum is located in the heart of the city and is housed in the historic former courthouse building. The building was built in 1836 and served as the courthouse until 1965. By 1965, Lumpkin County wanted a new courthouse, but they ended up selling the old one to the state for $10. The building was restored and began serving as the museum in 1967.

    Dahlonega Gold Museum (circa 2024)…
    Gold Museum.jpg

    Museum Map…
    Museum Map.jpg

    Fun fact: the bricks used in the construction of the courthouse were made locally and contain traces of gold.

    U.S. Mint

    Well. Being a coin collector, of course I had to visit Dahlonega to visit the former location of a branch mint!

    Given the abundance of gold in the area, the Treasury built a branch mint which allowed local miners a place to exchange their gold for hard currency. It was also cost-effective and risk averse when compared to the time, economics and risk of shipping the gold to the main mint in Philadelphia.

    The Mint Act of 1835 authorized the establishment of the New Orleans (gold & silver coins), Charlotte (gold coins only) and Dahlonega (gold coins only) branch mints. The Dahlonega branch of the US. Mint was built in 1837 and opened in 1838. It closed in 1861, when seized by the Confederates. It was donated to the state for educational purposes. The building burned down in 1878. Subsequently, in 1879, what is now the Administration Building of the University of North Georgia was built on the old foundation of the mint building. A steeple was added in 1972 and is covered in 13 ounces of gold leaf sourced mostly from local gold.

    Old rendering of mint…
    Old Rendering.jpg

    Admin Bldg. of University of North Georgia (circa 2024), former site of U.S. Mint...

    I refer all readers to consult their copy of The Red Book to sort out how many coins of which denomination and year were minted at the Dahlonega branch mint. Below are a couple of pictures of some of the coin displays located in the Gold Museum. More pictures will follow in my second post.

    Dahlonega minted coins…
    Coins 1.jpg

    Coins 2.jpg

    Fun fact: the U.S Mint’s first branch mint located in Charlotte, NC opened in 1837, but didn’t mint its first coin until 1838.

    Other Sightseeing


    I’m an avid hiker in the local Southern California Mountains so I was very interested in seeing the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail (AT), which is located west of Dahlonega on the summit of Springer Mountain. The AT is a hiking trail that runs for 2100 miles from Springer Mountain to Katahdin, Maine. You can’t drive to Springer Mountain, but you can drive to Amicalola State Park, the typical starting location for northbound AT thru-hikers. It is about a 30-minute drive west of Dahlonega. This is where you can start your northbound hike on the official 8.5 mile AT Approach Trail. I managed to hike the first 25 feet or so of the 2100 (+8.5) miles but had to turn back because I had wine tasting to do. Priorities.


    You can also take a short walk on another trail that will give you a spectacular view of Amicalola Falls.

    Amicalola Falls…

    Wine Tasting

    The area around Dahlonega and surrounding towns is the Dahlonega Plateau wine region of northern Georgia. Lots of options to visit tasting rooms, vineyards and wineries. Some of the wineries import grapes from other regions (Napa, etc.) but there are numerous locally grown grape varietals as well.


    One interesting wine I tasted was made from the Norton Grape, grown locally. I pretty much didn’t like it because I don’t think red wine should taste like Dr. Pepper. To each his own. Actually, the locally made wines using the traditional European/California grape varietals (which are both imported as well as grown locally) are excellent.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2024
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  3. CoinCorgi

    CoinCorgi Tell your dog I said hi!

    More pictures of coin info presented in the gold museum.

    More 1.jpg

    More 2.jpg

    More 3.jpg

    More 4.jpg

    More 5.jpg

    More 6.jpg

    More 7.jpg

    More 8.jpg
  4. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Hamlet Squire of Tomfoolery . . . . .

  5. SensibleSal66

    SensibleSal66 U.S Casual Collector / Error Collector

    Aye! Second that.
    I wonder if he bought anything from the gift shop?
  6. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    I bought a bunch of postcards featuring nuggets and Dahlonega coins when I was in that gift shop a few years ago. :)

    I’ve visited the Charlotte Mint museum as well. That also happens to be a great art museum.

    Decades ago, in my only trip out West, I visited the old San Francisco Mint museum, so I’ve visited three of the former mints.
  7. SensibleSal66

    SensibleSal66 U.S Casual Collector / Error Collector

    Someday my friend, some day. For now, it's just the Junior Mints. peace2.gif
  8. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    One lesser known mint which produced gold coins in the 1830s (including the first gold dollars) is the Bechtler Mint in Rutherfordton, NC. I used to live just up the mountain from there (in Asheville), but never got to see the Bechtler mint.

    The rather primitive looking Bechtler coins are rare and sought after today. I was offered one by a friend a few years ago, but didn’t have the $4,500 asking price.
  9. Tall Paul

    Tall Paul Supporter! Supporter

    Great write-up. I love being educated first thing in the morning. Thank you Coin Corgi.
  10. Gallienus

    Gallienus coinsandhistory.com

    Very interesting. I recall that one of these regional museums was robbed of it's coin collection a few years ago: I think they may have rebuilt their collection tho.

    Very informative: I've never owned any Dahlonega gold coin. But if it's close to Atlanta, which is a major Airline hub (American I think), maybe I'll schedule a trip to the mint there next time I fly. Excellent write-up & coin photos.
    CoinCorgi likes this.
  11. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    This is the only Dahlonega coin I have owned. I took a $400 loss when I sold it, but that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, since the proceeds of the sale bought my daughter’s first car.

    So based on the face value of the coin, I can rightfully claim to have bought a used car for five dollars.

    fretboard, imrich, ddddd and 7 others like this.
  12. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I have a Dahlonega coin type set, plus a few other pieces. Here are the two hardest pieces, at least in terms of price. The mintages are shockingly low.

    The 1855-D gold dollar is a one year type with a mintage of 1,811. The estimated number of survivors is 80. This one is well struck on the reverse. This coin can come both ways with a strong and a weak reverse.

    1855-D Gold Dol All.jpg

    The 1854-D Three Dollar Piece has an even lower mintage of 1,120. The number of survivors is high for that mintage with an estimated number of 300. I suppose it has something to do with the first (and last) mintage of an odd denomination.

    1854-D $3 gold All.jpg

    I have been to Dahlonega a couple of times. It's well worth the trip. There more there to see than just the old courthouse museum and the site of the mint which is now administration building for the college. If you wife is into shopping, there are some nice stores around the center square.

    I am surprised that they let you take a picture of their collection of Dahlonega coins. They won't let me do that when I was there. Yes, one of their collections was stolen, and they had to rebuild it.

    I can post some other coins if there is interest.
    fretboard, psuman08, imrich and 8 others like this.
  13. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Randy Abercrombie and CoinCorgi like this.
  14. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    How recently was that? I think a lot of "no photography allowed" places have given up in the face of phone cameras.
  15. KBBPLL

    KBBPLL Well-Known Member

    An interesting tidbit on one of those displays is that Philadelphia sent them their reject dies. That seems mean.
    CoinCorgi and -jeffB like this.
  16. tibor

    tibor Supporter! Supporter

    Hopefully the coins on display are better protected than coins
    in other museums. A few have been stolen in Europe and the
    United States and wound up being melted down.
    CoinCorgi likes this.
  17. lardan

    lardan Supporter! Supporter

    That write-up you did was excellent and the great pictures added even more to it. Thanks for taking the time and effort to share this with us.
  18. CoinCorgi

    CoinCorgi Tell your dog I said hi!

    I've finally looked at this picture while paying attention to it.

    I thought it was mintage numbers, but it is (supposedly) dollar amounts minted.

    So now I have to wonder, who did the math?
  19. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    Went to Dahlonega in 1972 or 3, but didn't go to the museum.
    CoinCorgi likes this.
  20. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Life was hard before they invented calculators.

    But even that's no excuse for the 1s not adding up, or for a total value of $5 pieces that's not a multiple of 5. (Somebody grabbed some webbing?)
    LakeEffect and Randy Abercrombie like this.
  21. Tall Paul

    Tall Paul Supporter! Supporter

    Yes please. Post some more coins.
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