Gold is a yellow, dense, and soft metal. Its chemical symbol is Au, and it is found most commonly as free gold in nature, often associated with quartz, pyrite and other sulfide minerals. It may be found as little more than a trace within other minerals, most notably tellurides, or may be alloyed to a small extent with other metals such as silver. It is ductile, malleable, and sectile, a good conductor of heat and electricity, and is unaffected by air and most reagents. Gold has many applications, including in photography, dentistry, electronics, plating, jewelry, currency, and as an international monetary standard.
Year of first production in Virginia: around 1804
Location of first production in Virginia: Whitehall Mine, Spotsylvania County (first lode deposit)
Year of last production in Virginia: 1947
Location of last production in Virginia: Spotsylvania County
Total cumulative production in Virginia: more than 98,600 troy ounces
Current annual production in Virginia: none
Abandoned Mineral Mine Lands in Virginia
Gold In Virginia Fact Sheet
Gold was mined extensively in Virginia from the early 1800s until the peak of gold production in 1849. In that year, major gold discoveries in California had a negative impact on Virginia’s gold mining industry, and production declined rapidly. Commercial gold mining continued on a smaller scale until 1947, when gold production was last recorded in Virginia.
In Virginia, gold was mined from near-surface lode deposits, veins, mineralized zones, and placer deposits. Most of Virginia’s gold mining was in the “gold-pyrite belt”, a nine-mile to sixteen-mile-wide, nearly 140 mile-long northeast trending volcanic-plutonic belt that extends from Fairfax County to southwestern Buckingham County. The largest concentrations of historical gold mines are in Buckingham, Fluvanna, Louisa, Goochland, and Spotsylvania counties. Other abandoned gold mines and prospects are scattered widely in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont provinces.
Historical gold production in Virginia by year.
Sweet, P. C., 1980, Gold in Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 19, 77 p.
Sweet, P. C., and Trimble, D., 1983, Virginia gold-resource data: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 45, 196 p.
Spears, D. B., and Upchurch, M. L., 1997, Metallic mines, prospects and occurrences in the gold-pyrite belt of Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 147, 73 p.