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.
The Mullan Road was designed to facilitate the movement of troops and supplies across the Rocky Mountains between the Missouri River basin in the Great Plains and the Columbia River Basin at the Columbia Plateau during times of Indian hostilities. But because peace was reached with the Northwest Indians early on, the road was used only once (in 1860) for military means. Instead, it became a popular thoroughfare for emigrants and fortune-seekers during the Montana and Idaho gold rushes of the 1860s.
This ironworks exemplified the adaptability required for industrial survival in a dynamic technical environment. It was a major western producer of mechanical equipment used in mining (especially large hydraulic machines), ship propulsion, irrigation, power generation, optical telescope mounts, and nuclear research.