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The first gold rush in the United States was not, in fact, in California, but in Dahlonega, Georgia, about an hour northeast of Atlanta. Supposedly, a local man kicked a strange looking rock on a walk in the woods in 1828, stooped down to take a closer look, and discovered that the rock contained gold. Word quickly got out, setting off the country’s first gold rush. The gold rush brought both prominence and tragedy to the area. The gold rush brought prominence to the area because Dahlonega became home to a branch of the U.S. Mint until it closed at the outset of the Civil War. The gold rush brought one of the most tragic occurrences in United States history, however. The Cherokee tribe inhabited the region in which the gold rush happened, and the United States government seized the land, giving it via lottery to white settlers and forcing the Native Americans west on the Trail of Tears. As time went on much of the gold in the area had been mined, and fewer people came to the area in search of gold. Nevertheless, visitors to Dahlonega today can learn a bit more about the Dahlonega gold rush at the Dahlonega Gold Museum, located in the old courthouse in the middle of Dahlonega square. The museum is rather small, but houses old mining equipment, pictures detailing the history of the gold rush, and a beautiful and complete collection of gold coins minted throughout the entire history of the U.S. Mint in Dahlonega. The museum also has a 17 minute video that offers an informative summary of the history of the gold rush. Since the museum is small, you don’t need to spend a great amount of time at the museum, but it is well worth a visit-it offers a nice overview of the history of a fascinating, but tragic period in United States history that many people don’t know much about. On your visit, be sure to check out the Dahlonega square, full of shops, boutiques, wine tastings, and cafes.

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