The Reed Gold Mine | An Indispensable Lesson in Value Recognition
The Reed Gold Mine, located halfway between the Uwharrie National Forest and Charlotte, North Carolina, was the site of the first documented Gold find in the United States. It’s the epicenter of where the gold rush madness began. When the term ‘Gold Rush’ comes to most people’s mind they immediately think, California. Ah, but North Carolina was actually the nations leader in gold discovery and production until 1848.
What put the Reed Gold Mine on the map was not its proximity to the Uwharrie National Forest and all it’s innate beauty and splendor. It wasn’t because of the mystic and wonder of what still lies beneath Little Meadow Creek. And, it really wasn’t even the fact that Conrad Reed discovered a 17-pound gold nugget while skipping rocks in Little Meadow Creek.
More impressive… Ok, actually I’m a little embarrassed for the Reeds.
because, even though little Conrad Reed discovered that 17-pound gold nugget, they thought it’s best use was a….drum-roll please…. a doorstop! AND for upwards of 3 years! You heard me, a 17-pound GOLD Nugget, which today would be worth millions, used as a doorstop! I kid you not! It makes you scratch your head and wonder; what in the world were they thinking?
But, in their defense, they had no idea what ‘Gold’was at that time, and they certainly didn’t believe it had any monetary value. Up until then, its value was simply ‘propping the door open’. It wasn’t until the local jeweler came by and noticed it, that Conrad Reed began to investigate if his doorstop was really something more substantive.
So, Farmer Reed got the horse and buggy ready for the trek to the big city of Fayetteville, N.C. where a jeweler looked it over in great detail, and presented him an offer. “$3.50 is all I can give you sir” which by-the-way in the 1800’s was a significant amount of money. He thought about it for a bit, then reluctantly, accepted the offer. He was on his way, Three-Dollars and fifty-cents richer.
Weeks later though, to his dismay, he would find out the paltry $3.50 he received was actually 1000X lower than its actual worth. Ouchies!
It was this moment their lives would be forever changed!
After this defining moment, the family began scouring Little Meadow Creek for any rock they could find that may have the same value as the 17-pounder. After a firm commitment to Little Meadow Creek, the Reeds finally struck gold and life would be forever changed. Along came riches, but more importantly this put gold on the map.
And so the Gold Rush began, North Carolina had started the gold mania!
Had Conrad Reed not used the gold nugget as a doorstop, had he not gotten fleeced by the big city jeweler, it’s quite possible the Gold Rush may have never gained traction.
How the Gold Rush has forever changed the landscape of the US of A
The gold craze was on, people were now tuned-in about the prospects of gold riches, and North Carolina was to blame. But, as much as Farmer Reed’s influence had on the North Carolina gold frenzy, James Marshall’s gold discovery at Sutters Mill dwarfed that of Farmer Reeds. Marshall almost single-handedly caused the California Gold Rush, he was like the Gold Rush’s Paul Revere. His discovery transformed the State of California almost overnight, and many say the California Gold Rush even helped fund the Civil War.
The California Gold Rush became one of the most revered job creators of its time. People took chances on all sorts of business ideas to support the miners who were searching for gold. The agriculture industry boomed due to the demand that more food be grown to feed the ever growing population. Housing, hotels, and infrastructure were built to serve the demand.
But, perhaps the most notorious beneficiary of the California Gold Rush was Levi Strauss, a Bavarian immigrant who built his business selling durable trousers to the miners. That business, Levi Strauss and Co. is still thriving today, 166 years later. There were hundreds more Levi Strauss and Co’s who flourished during the the 1850’s only to become extinct after the mania subsided.
So, does hearing how Farmer Reed sold his 17-pound nugget for 1000x under market value, after using it as a doorstop for three years, make you reflect on some of the opportunities you’ve had in your life? While I try to avoid regret in my life, I do use this story to remind me to search for ‘value’ in all things, I hope you can too.
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