The first authenticated discovery of gold in the U.S. occurred on the Cabarrus County farm of John Reed in 1799, sparking the nation's first gold rush. During its peak years, more than a million dollars of gold was recovered a year, making North Carolina a leader in gold production until 1848. This mill, built by the Mecklenburg Iron Works of Charlotte, North Carolina, is original except for the timber work. Two groups of five 750-pound stamps with 5- to 7-inch lift, rose and fell thirty-five times a minute to yield a finely crushed ore.
Winding over 64 miles through the majestic San Juan mountains, the narrow-gauge railway known today as the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad was built as a branch of the extensive Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad that ran through western Colorado and most of Utah. It originally served the large number of settlers flocking to the gold and silver mines of the region.