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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Franklin in Macon County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Gem Mining

 
 
Gem Mining Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 12, 2018
1. Gem Mining Marker
Inscription. Click to hear the inscription.  Long before the first settlers arrived here in 1818, this area teased explorers with hints of mineral wealth — especially gold, silver and copper. Not much interest was taken in Macon County's gemstones until a farmer turned up some strange rocks while plowing his field in 1867. A local scholar identified the rocks as corundum and commercial mining began at Corundum Hill about 1871.

Word of the corundum spread like wildfire. During this period, a red corundum crystal (ruby) was taken from Caler Creek, the gem-rich tributary of Cowee Creek. In 1895, the American Prospecting and Mining Company and Tiffany's of New York began actively searching for the source of Cowee's rubies, which was thought to rival those of Burma. No mother lode was found and interest in large-scale mining of gemstones faded.

A book written about these gems in 1905 set the stage for the second wave of gem mining in Macon County. People would come here and pay farmers to mine on their land. In the early fifties, Frank Wykle became the first to open a mine like those here today. The mines were made famous in the mid-1960s by John P. Brady, a local reporter.

In
Marker detail: Large Corundum from Corundum Hill Mine image. Click for full size.
By Franklin Chamber of Commerce
2. Marker detail: Large Corundum from Corundum Hill Mine
1974 the Gem & Mineral Society of Franklin established the Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum in the 19th Century jailhouse. Among the prized exhibits is a 49-pound corundum crystal from the old Corundum Hill mine.

The North Carolina mountains and foothills were designated the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in recognition of their natural beauty and living traditions of music, craft, agriculture, and Cherokee culture. This location is part of a regional trail of distinctive heritage sites. Ask for information at area visitor centers.
More information online at: www.blueridgeheritage.com

 
Location. 35° 10.888′ N, 83° 22.869′ W. Marker is in Franklin, North Carolina, in Macon County. Marker is at the intersection of Phillips Street and Stewart Street, on the right when traveling south on Phillips Street. Touch for map. Marker is located beside the sidewalk at the northeast corner of Franklin's Gem & Mineral Museum. Marker is at or near this postal address: 25 Phillips Street, Franklin NC 28734, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Battle of Echoe (a few steps from this marker); Macon County Confederate Memorial (a few steps from this marker); The North Carolina Bartram Trail
Gem Mining Marker (<i>tall view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 12, 2018
3. Gem Mining Marker (tall view)
(within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas's Legion (within shouting distance of this marker); Dixie Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); William Bartram Naturalist (within shouting distance of this marker); Nikwasi Mound (approx. half a mile away); Nikwasi (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Franklin.
 
More about this marker. Marker is a large composite plaque, mounted horizontally on waist-high posts.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Blue Ridge Heritage Trail
 
Also see . . .
1. Gem Mining. Comprising a complex mixture of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that have been repeatedly squeezed, fractured, faulted and folded, North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains contain some of the richest deposits of gems and minerals in the world, many of which can be found in and around Franklin, North Carolina. (Submitted on September 12, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Ruby. A red, gem variety of corundum. The red color is caused by minor
Gem Mining Marker (<i>wide view; Franklin's Gem & Mineral Museum in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 12, 2018
4. Gem Mining Marker (wide view; Franklin's Gem & Mineral Museum in background)
amounts of trivalent Cr replacing Al in the crystal structure. In traditional gemological terms, ruby has to be blood-red and of clear, facetable quality to justify the name, however in wider usage any corundum with a red or reddish color has attracted the name "ruby", and this name is usually applied in this way by mineral collectors. Pink corundum is usually referred to in gemological terminology as pink sapphire rather than ruby. (Submitted on September 12, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNatural Resources
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 15, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 12, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 31 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 12, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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