Editor's note: A version of this story was originally published in March 2019.
Many Charlotte residents have long heard tales of abandoned gold mines left buried beneath uptown. Aaron Hopping, a WFAE listener, wanted to know more. Like, where are they? What happened to them? And are any still accessible?
On this episode of the "FAQ City" podcast, we investigate with the help of some local historians, who tell us it's not just uptown that's riddled with old mine shafts, there are places all over Mecklenburg County situated above or near old gold mines from the 1800s.
However, all of the Mecklenburg County mines (that we know of) have been sealed shut, and Charlotte hasn't shown much interest in reopening them.
We'll look at the history of gold mining in the Charlotte area, and consider what condition the abandoned mines might be in today. Then, we'll meet a Charlotte woman who discovered a collapsed gold mine inside her basement not long ago.
Finally, we'll ask what the future might hold for Charlotte's abandoned mines. The city had briefly considered turning one into a tourist attraction in the 1970s, but those plans never materialized. One local historian thinks the mines still have potential.
Are you near an old gold mine? This interactive map, sourced from research by P. Albert Carpenter of the North Carolina Geological Survey, shows the approximate locations of 57 historic mines in Mecklenburg County. Actual locations may vary by up to a mile or more.
Special thanks to Dan Morrill of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission and to Larry Neal of the Reed Gold Mine for sharing their expertise.
Thanks also to North Carolina's state geologist, Kenneth Taylor, and to Ashley Weidner, whose discovery of a mine shaft in her basement was first covered by the Charlotte Observer.
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