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New Exhibit on Georgia's Gold Rush, First in the Nation, in Hargrett Library

UGA Today

An exhibit on the nation’s first gold rush, which took place right here in Georgia, begins today at UGA’s Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

It features gold nuggets, historic maps, photographs, postcards and other artifacts help tell the story of Georgia’s antebellum gold rush – which preceded the frenzy in California by two decades.


 Organizers say the exhibit illustrates how early development of southern industrialization was both profitable and destructive. Miners ripped apart stream beds and hillsides, cut down forests, and erected miles of wooden flumes and towns of wooden shacks. Speculators drove the Cherokee from Georgia, two years before the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. The exhibit is on display until December 5th. A centerpiece of the exhibit is the Thomas Leverette McMullan Reed Creek Collection of Dahlonega Mint Coins, recently donated to the UGA Libraries. by Mr. McMullan’s son, John.

Programs planned at exhibit:

  • June 17,  1-5pm - Family Day, a family friendly event with galleries tours, craft activities, and scavenger hunts
  • July 13, 6pm - Dr. Drew Swanson, history professor at Wayne State University, will speak on “From Georgia to California and Back: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Southern Gold Mining.” A reception will follow.
  •  Sept. 21, 5:30pm- Dr. Stephen Mihm, UGA history professor, “A Nation of Counterfeiters:  Capitalists, Con men, and the Making of the United States.”