ASME-Landmark:Reed Gold Mine Ten-Stamp Mill


The first authenticated discovery of gold occurred in North Carolina in 1799. During its peak years, gold mining employed more of North Carolina's people than any occupation other than farming. The estimated value of the gold recovered reached over a million dollars a year, and prior to 1828 all native gold coined by the United States mint came from North Carolina. The state maintained its leadership in gold production until 1848, when it was eclipsed in importance by the California gold rush.

The Reed Gold Mine Ten-Stamp Mill, built by the Mecklenburg Iron Works of Charlotte, North Carolina, is a typical mill of the late nineteenth century. Built in 1830, the mill's working parts were made of cast iron; it resembled a large mortar and pestle. Two groups of five 750-pound stamps with 5- to 7-inch lift rose and fell thirty-five times a minute to yield a finely crushed ore.

Seventy-two gallons of water were needed per stamp per hour. The mixture of water, crushed quartz, and gold then flowed over amalgamation plates covered with a thin layer of mercury. As the crushed ore passed over the plates, the gold and mercury formed an amalgam. The amalgam was then retorted, the mercury condensed and reused, and the gold purified and cast.

The last underground excavation recorded at the Reed Gold Mine was in 1912. In 1971, the Reed Gold Mine was donated to the State of North Carolina, and a museum was established. The mill is original except for the timber work. See ASME website for more information