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Mining- A Western North Carolina Past Time. The Mineral & Lapidary Museum a Great Resource.

In 1998, the mining world wondered if the 88-carat emerald mined by Alexander County resident Jamie Hill was a fluke. They are wondering no more. Hill announced recently that he has discovered two more huge stones - one in excess of 100-carats - of incredible quality. Gems in top photo are in an exhibit at the Mineral & Lapidary Museum of Henderson County in Hendersonville, NC.

Hiddenite, a small town in mountainous Alexander County, is once again in the news with word of this discovery. Over thirty years ago, the "Carolina" emerald - a 59-carat stone that has since been displayed at the Smithsonian Museum, was found in Alexander County.

"People have been finding riches in the North Carolina mountains for decades" says Lynn Minges, executive director of the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. "A find of this magnitude just reminds us that gems like emeralds, rubies and sapphires, not to mention gold, are often found In North Carolina."

The Mineral & Lapidary Museum of Henderson County, located at 400 North Main Street in Hendersonville, NC, is a great place to find out about mining, minerals and precious gems found in Western North Carolina. The Mineral & Lapidary Museum of Henderson County, Inc. was the dream of one man, Larry Hauser, who wanted to establish a place where children could go to see and learn about the Earth Sciences. Visitors will enjoy the many exhibits available at the museum.

Ms. Minges added, "Each year, thousands of people visit local mining sites to try their luck and enjoy the beauty of the area. "Furthermore, our rich mining history is told in museums. In addition to Reed Gold Mine, there's the Museum of North Carolina Minerals on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, and a host of local and regional museums across the state."

In 1799, North Carolina was the site of America's first discovery of gold, and until 1848 it led the nation in gold production. A state historic site, Reed Gold Mine, now marks the spot, and visitors can pan for gold themselves for a small fee. In fact, there are several mines open to the public scattered throughout the North Carolina mountains. Public mines across the state can accommodate individuals as well as families and groups.

Plan your own North Carolina gem mining trip on our website, www.visitnc.com, or call 1-800-VISITNC for a complete North Carolina travel package.

(Photo provided by the Mineral & Lapidary Museum of Henderson County)

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