Twenty years before the 1849 gold rush in California, thousands of prospectors flocked into the Cherokee Nation in north Georgia, marking the true beginning of our country’s first gold rush. Dahlonega thrived and a U.S. Branch Mint opened in 1838, coining more than $6 million in gold before closing in 1861. Today, visitors can see a complete set of these rare coins, a nugget weighing more than five ounces, a large hydraulic cannon and nozzle used to blast soil from mountainsides, film and gift shop.
The museum is housed inside the 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse, the oldest courthouse in Georgia. Visitors can also explore the courthouse features, including beautiful wooden chapel seats from 1889 and the judge’s chambers. The town of Dahlonega is a popular destination for gold panning, shopping and sightseeing. National Register of Historic Places guidelines prevent the addition of an elevator to the courthouse building, so some exhibits on the second floor are not wheelchair accessible and guidelines from the National Register of Historic Places prevent the addition of an elevator to this building.