14421 Gold Dust Parkway
Goldvein, Virginia 22720
I never knew about Virginia’s gold mining history until my road trip down Marsh Road (Highway 17) from Bealeton to Fredericksburg. There, in the town of Goldvein, I came across Monroe Park and the Gold Mining Camp Museum which sits right along Highway 17 (the entrance is off Rock Run Road). The Gold Mining Camp Museum is the only museum in Virginia dedicated to Virginia’s gold mining history. Monroe Park and the Museum opened on 29 October 1998 – 15 years ago.
The Gold-Pyrite belt in Virginia gets it start in Maryland and runs southwest to the North Carolina state line – it is 15-25 miles wide and about 200 miles in length. It passes through southeastern Fauquier County (and the Highway 17 Corridor) where ~18 gold mines existed near Goldvein. From the Monroe Park website:
By the 1830’s, gold produced in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia amounted to $1,000,000 per year.
Of the mines that were in Fauquier County, the Franklin Gold Mine was one of the most famous. At this mine site, miners dug shafts up to 300 feet deep to reach the gold. From 1825 to the Civil War, this mine produced $1,200,000 worth of gold. There was also a mill on site that produced 5000 feet of lumber per day, bunk houses where the miners slept, work offices, a mess hall for dining, and small railroad tracks.
These seven ton hollow spheres were most likely used to crush large chunks of ore. The balls could have been attached to a steam engine or horse to spin the balls. These balls were found at a mine site one mile from the location of the Gold Mining Camp Museum.
Monroe Park and the Gold Mining Camp Museum are a wonderful stop along Highway 17 in Fauquier County, Virginia. There is no charge to visit the Museum, although there is a donation box to help offset the costs of running the Museum.
It’s beautifully done, and quite informative – I was born and raised in Virginia and knew none of this history. Do consider taking a break during your Highway 17 road trip and visiting this place… okay?