10 Boom Towns that Went Bust


Dahlonega, Ga.

This quiet north Georgia town was the site of the first major gold rush in the United States. Though gold had been discovered around 1799 in North Carolina, it wasn't until 1829 when miners began flocking to modern day Lumpkin County, Ga., then known as the Cherokee Nation.

Gold fever had spread. Thousands arrived in north Georgia looking to stake a claim. The county seat, Licklog, was renamed Dahlonega in 1833, after the Cherokee word tahlonega, or "golden."

Eventually enough gold was mined that the federal government put a branch of the United States Mint in Dahlonega in 1835, with the first gold coins produced in 1838. During this time, the removal of the Cherokee began in what later became known as the Trail of Tears.

However, not long after the mint's production and the Cherokee removal, the easiest-to-mine gold had all but run dry. There was still gold embedded in hard rock, but the difficulty in extraction caused miners to look elsewhere. When word of the California Gold Rush reached Dahlonega in 1849, prospectors fled for wealth in the West. Bust had arrived.

A recent resurgence has brought renewed interest to the town, however. North Georgia College & State University is there, one of the nation's six senior military colleges. And in addition to gold history tourism, a burgeoning wine industry has blossomed. With an ideal climate, Dahlonega is home to a handful of wineries.

So where did miners go when looking for new deposits of gold? Next, we'll take a look at one West Coast town that embodied the California Gold Rush.