Center Point of Alabama's Great Gold Strike
Tallapoosa County, Alabama

A gold mine of Alabama history!

The little town of Goldville, reincarnated in 1973 after 124 years of dormancy, once ranked among the most-populated places in Alabama. It was the center of a thriving gold mine industry.

The community today is home to fewer than 60 people, but in 1843 as many as 5,000 residents flocked to Goldville. They came to search for the precious yellow metal. Fortunes were made and lost. A city grew and fell — all within a brief interval of six years.

The Tallapoosa County gold strike began in 1842 when prospectors found nuggets and flakes of gold in local creeks. The Muscogee (Creek) Indians had recently been forced to walk the Trail of Tears, and white prospectors were making their first inroads north of the Tallapoosa River. 

The strike brought a flood of miners into the region, and the town of Goldville was born:

Within a couple of months the flourishing village of “Goldville” has sprung up, and already has a considerable population. It is thronged, says report, with persons desirous of embarking in the gold speculation, and who are well supplied with “specie funds.”  [Mobile Daily Advertiser, February 23, 1843]

It was not long before the miners discovered gold embedded in the rock that underlay the region. Panning and dredging in the creeks gave way to "hard rock" mining as open pits and tunnels - and not without results!

The search for gold soon revealed the presence of silver, as well as profitable mines, became significant employers:

In the county of Tallapoosa, one gold and one silver mine have been discovered; this gold mine (called Goldville) employs several hundred hands. Gold has been found in the counties of Talladega, Coosa, and Chambers. It is understood by your committee that this rich mining region has never been examined by scientific persons. A mineralogical, and geological survey of this mineral region would, doubtless, lead to the most valuable discoveries. [Alabama Beacon, January 25, 1845]

Not all of those toiling in the mines held hopes of profiting from their labors. The Jacksonville Republican​ newspaper, for example, reported the escape from Goldville in 1843 of an enslaved African American man named Riley. Authorities seized him in Randolph County where a county official described him as "5 feet 8 inches high, aged about 25 years, sore legs." [Jacksonville Republican, August 9, 1843]

Goldville infamously was home to as much wildness as any of the later gold and silver towns in the West:

We have learned that an individual was killed a few days ago at Goldville, Tallapoosa county. The citizens had assembled together and were stoning a house of ill fame when some wretch who was mean enough to defend it, discharged a gun at the crowd, which immediately killed one of the assailants, whose name we have not learned. [Jacksonville Republican, December 6, 1843]
The mines thrived until 1849 when news arrived of the gold strike in California. Stories of massive nuggets prompted most of the miners to pull up stakes and head west. Goldville, the boomtown that rose in the wilderness in 1843, quickly became defunct. It remained so until 1973.

The disappearance of the miners and the collapse of the town did not mean there was no more gold. The nearby Hog Mountain Mine produced gold worth $29,300; $41,530; and $24,921 as late as 1904, 1905, and 1906 respectively. 

Panners and property owners still find flakes and even occasional nuggets of gold to this day. Some pursue mining as a hobby.

A monument on the town hall lawn interprets the town's history and honors the gold miners who gave it life. It is at the intersection of AL-49, Goldville Cut-Off Road, and Bluff Springs Road in Goldville, Alabama.
Flakes of gold are sometimes still found by panning
​in the creeks and streams around Goldville, Alabama.
Alabama newspapers covered the strike and the growth of the boomtown that came with it:

TALLAPOOSA GOLD.—It gives us pleasure to see that the gold mines in the. . . county of Tallapoosa, are beginning to be known somewhat in the world. The Jacksonville, Wetumpka and Montgomery papers have all lately taken notice of the existence of these mines; and we predict, that before the lapse of many months, they will be known as the richest and most extensive in the Union. So far, the yield of pure gold has been in much greater proportion at them than at the Randolph mines. The greater ease with which the gold is obtained, is evidenced by the fact, that many laborers (such as work “on shares”) have left the Arbercooshee for the Hillabee mines. Extensive preparations, by men of capital, are going on for the opening and working of the rich veins already discovered; and hundreds of persons are daily searching for new ones, which are entered by companies or individuals as soon as discovered. The gold region lies on the North side of the Tallapoosa river, principally. [Mobile Daily Advertiser, February 23, 1843]

The term "HIllabee mines" in the above account referred to the proximity of the mines to nearby Hillabee Creek.

Not all residents of Goldville made their fortunes by digging. Others built stores, taverns, and other establishments and carpenters, of course, were in great demand. The Alabama Legislature incorporated the town in 1843 and some researchers believe that as many as 5,000 people came to live there.
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