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Villa Rica, Georgia - City of Gold

Updated on August 6, 2015

Images From Pine Mountain Museum

The Villa Rica Gold Rush

Mention the US gold rush and most people think of California and the Wild Wild West. But actually, there is a little-know town north west of Atlanta, called Villa Rica, which boasts of the first gold rush in the nation. In fact the name Villa Rica was changed from its original name, Hixtown, to mean City of Gold.


According to history, Spanish explorers who set foot in North America in search of gold were told of a place where the natives wore golden hats and gave gifts of gold to the women who ruled those lands. No one knows for sure when the white settlers actually discovered gold in Georgia. Some believe it to be in 1826, but the gold rush was not publicized until 1829. By the mid 1830s there were as many as 500 gold mines in Georgia and 19 in Villa Rica. The southern gold rush, believed to be the first in the nation, lasted until 1840 and the region stretching from Rabun County through the city of Dahlonega, southward into Paulding and Carroll Counties became known as the Dahlonega (Georgia) Gold Belt. With the discovery of gold, the Cherokee Indians were driven off the land and the gold supplies began to dwindle. By 1849, miners began to leave for California.

Pine Mountain Gold

Villa Rica gold is said to be 98% pure - among the purest in the world. It is found in the form of gold dust, not flakes or nuggets, making it harder to find. However, between 1830 and 1840 about 20,000 pennyweights of gold (that’s over 800 pounds) were produced in the area. Most geologists believe that less than 20% of the gold in the area was mined, so there may still be gold in “them thar hills.”

The Pine Mountain Gold Museum

By the turn of the twentieth century, most of the mines had given way to cotton fields. Only the Pine Mountain Gold Mine in Villa Rica was still operating. Mining ceased after World War II began and most of the equipment was sold for the war effort. However some small pieces of equipment are housed in the Pine Mountain Gold Museum built on the site of the old mine at Stockmar Park. The museum covers 4,800 square feet and houses a 50-seat theatre, an exhibit hall, a covered gold and gemstone panning area and a 27-acre park with over 3 miles of self-guided walking trails.

Schedule And Fees

I took my grandchildren to the museum around 2.00 p.m. in the summer. That was not such a good idea since the museum opens Monday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. I paid the $5.00 fee for myself and $4.00 for each of the children. We were just in time for the 20-minute documentary which gives a lot of information on the history of the gold mine. When it was over, we entered the exhibit hall itself to view the exhibits, some of which you can see in the pictures. By the time we got out of there it was too late for us to do any panning, but we were given a quick demonstration of how it is done. To pan for gold will cost you $5.00 per bucket. By 4.00 p.m it was still too hot to explore the grounds and mining trails so we decided to call it a day, but I promised the children that we will definitely be back.

The museum accommodates groups of 15 or more, but you must call up in advance. The cost for a group tour is $6.00 per person and will include a guided tour of the museum and a panning bucket for each person. If you do visit Atlanta, I highly recommend a side trip to the Pine Mountain Gold Museum . The friendly and courteous staff will be happy to show you around. You will not be disappointed.

Getting to Villa Rica

show route and directions
A markerMirror Lake, Villa Rica -
Mirror Lk, Villa Rica, GA 30180, USA
get directions

B markerPine Mountain Gold Museum, Villa Rica -
Villa Rica, GA, USA
get directions


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    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for your comment, glendabrooks. I also have moved to Florida, but I miss Villa Rica a lot. I plan to visit some time soon and check out the gold mine.

    • profile image 3 years ago

      I was raised in villa rica, but but moved to fla 50 years ago, and just got to thinking about an old gold mine I used to visit as a kid. enjoyed reading about your visit.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 4 years ago from Florida

      Hi Ron, welcome to Villa Rica even though I don't live there anymore. Hope you strike gold! Thanks for stopping by!

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 4 years ago from Florida

      Wow, thank you so much for this information! Unfortunately, I no longer live in Villa Rica, but I still have ties there so I can always go back and try my hand. I think I'll update this hub with the information you have given me. Thanks again!

    • ladybluewriter profile image

      ladybluewriter 4 years ago from United States

      I have mined a lot of gold in Georgia. I actually attempted to look for gold in the small side streams there in Villa Rica mine area. The most fun I ever had was finding large nuggets and loads of gold flakes at Crisson Mines in Dahlonega, Ga. I sold quite a bit of gold from there. I have heard also that Black Jack Mountain to the west of Roopville has found large nuggets up on that mountain in the fields. I lived in Villa Rica not far from the Walmart and on the Carrollton Villa Rica Hwy. The gold on the dome in the Capitol Building in Atlanta was made from gold from Villa Rica mines and the Dahlonega gold. All is very pure. It makes a good trip but hold off until Spring when they open the mines in Dahlonega. You can also go into the creek at Cleveland , Ga. I found gold in the creek. Some college students found a sizeable amount there. Hope you like Ron the Villa Rica area.

    • profile image

      ron 4 years ago

      just moved to the villa rica area, was a bush pilot in Alaska and got interested in looking for gold there. ..... would like to know more.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 4 years ago from Florida

      @ladybluewriter I apologize for taking so long to reply to your comment. I've never been to Dahlonega and now I don't live in Villa Rica anymore, so I don't know if I'll ever get to see it, but I would love to visit. Thanks for stopping by.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 6 years ago from Florida

      @ I took my grandkids there and they had a lovely time.

    • profile image

      quildon 6 years ago

      @habee. It's a nice day trip. Just don't go in the summer as I did.

    • profile image

      ladybluewriter 6 years ago

      I took some of my students there for an outing experience. They loved it. It had a little museum like there for the kids to see stuff. If you have not done it, then you definitely will have fun.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Cool! I didn't even know about the gold museum, and I'm in GA. Sounds like a good day trip for hubby and me. Voted up!

    • ladybluewriter profile image

      ladybluewriter 6 years ago from United States

      I use to live in Villa Rica and love the fun there as well as going to Dahlonega. It is family fun to get out and do something unique. I actually got in their ditch with my own sleuce. I love the fun no matter, if I do or don't find gold.