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Green glow highlights the gold vein 24 feet below the surface.
Green glow highlights the gold vein 24 feet below the surface.

Gold Mine in a Restaurant Basement

Field review by the editors.

Dahlonega, Georgia

Frank Wayland Hall was the richest man in Dahlonega before he found gold while digging the basement of his new house, just off the town square, in 1899. He asked Dahlonega -- a city famous for its gold -- for permission to dig a mine. Dahlonega said no. Frank Wayland Hall apparently went ahead and dug one anyway, in secret, a shaft five feet wide and 31 feet deep. He stuck a rich vein of gold ore at 24 feet, but died of typhoid fever before he could mine it.

Peering into the pit.
Gazing into the pit.

The house was then bought by a married couple who turned the building into the Smith House restaurant. Not realizing that the shaft in the basement was a literal gold mine, they used it as a trash dump. A subsequent owner poured a concrete floor over it, and it wasn't until 2006 that the floor was dug up, the shaft rediscovered, and its purpose understood.

The current owners of the Smith House have preserved the shaft as a free tourist attraction -- because even though there's gold in that thar pit, the town forbids mining within city limits. Visitors walk down a flight of stairs to a darkened room in the basement, peer into the hole, and watch a video of a bearded miner exploring its claustrophobic innards. "What's took place here is some hard work," he says at one point. "It's quite the thing to do it right under the city's nose."

Gold Mine in a Restaurant Basement

Smith House

84 S. Chestatee St., Dahlonega, GA
Smith House. Downtown, on the south side of S. Chestatee St., one block east of the courthouse square. Walk into the restaurant, turn left, walk down the stairs, then walk to the end of the hall. The room with the mine is on the left.
M-F 11-3, Sa-Su 11-7 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Dahlonega Gold MuseumDahlonega Gold Museum, Dahlonega, GA - < 1 mi.
Gold Mining Diving BellGold Mining Diving Bell, Dahlonega, GA - < 1 mi.
Site of the First US Gold RushSite of the First US Gold Rush, Dahlonega, GA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Big Rocking Chair in a Field, Lula, GA - 16 mi.

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