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Homeowners Have To Rebuild After Gold Mine Collapses Beneath Charlotte House

ashley_weider_gold_mine.jpg
NICK DE LA CANAL
/
WFAE
A long-forgotten mine shaft collapsed in the crawlspace beneath Ashley Weidner's home in 2018. The collapse took out a support beam, and she says the home will now have to be torn down and rebuilt.

A long-forgotten mine shaft collapsed in the crawlspace beneath a Charlotte family's home in 2018. Now considered unsafe to occupy, the house will be demolished next week.

Ashley Weidner remembers the day she discovered the gaping, six-foot hole in the crawlspace beneath her historic bungalow just north of uptown Charlotte.

It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2018, and she walked down the muddy hill outside her home on Duckworth Avenue and into the crawlspace to haul out some Christmas decorations.

She remembers peering around the boxes and other miscellaneous junk and walking up to a big, circular hole. It looked roughly six feet wide and about six feet deep, and it had swallowed up a brick support column directly beneath the middle of the home.

"I think I was just shocked at first," Weidner said. "I didn't know what to think."

Could someone have broken into her crawlspace and dug the hole? Or could an animal be to blame? Perhaps something supernatural was at work?

She reached out to soil engineers and spoke to friends, who suggested that the hole could be a collapsed mine shaft leftover from Charlotte's days as a gold mining town in the 1800s.

She got confirmation after reaching out to a reporter with the Charlotte Observer who had written about Charlotte's gold mining history. The reporter found an old map that placed Weidner's home over a long-forgotten gold mine — the Chinquepin Mine — that was among dozens in operation around uptown Charlotte and throughout Mecklenburg County in the 19th century.

Initially, Weidner said, she knew the hole would be a pain to fix, but the story seemed like a fun anecdote — something to tell at parties and joke about with friends. Not anymore.

She says her insurance company, Allstate, has denied her homeowners' insurance claim, saying her policy only covers abrupt collapses unrelated to ground movement. She's disputing the decision, although the company has held firm.

"I understand there are some things that are not covered per policy," she said, "But what's the point of homeowners insurance if it doesn't cover something like this?"

She says the collapse has made the home structurally unsound, and there's likely no way to fix the hole without tearing the house down and starting from scratch.

So, she's moved her family out to live with her parents, and the home has been scheduled for demolition next week. Her family will pay out of pocket for a new home to be built — on a new foundation — on the same spot.

She describes the situation as "stressful and awful and frustrating," and no, despite what many internet commentators have suggested, mining the shaft for gold to pay for the new home is unrealistic. The cost of setting up a mining operation would be far greater than any stray nuggets of gold they might find.

Weidner says she still hopes the insurance company will cover some portion of her claim, and she'll be happy when the whole episode is in the ground, good and buried.

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