In Virginia, there is a gold belt that encompasses an area of some 4000 square miles, starting from Maryland and running Southwest to the North Carolina state line. The Virginia gold belt varies in width from 15 to 25 miles and measures 200 miles in length.

The Virginia gold belt passes through southeastern Fauquier County, at the Morrisville/Goldvein area. It is here where approximately 18 gold mines existed. American Indians and early European settlers dicovered small quantities of the precious metal, but the Goldvein area did not attract serious prospectors and miners until the early 1800's.

In the 1830's, prospectors panned for gold in the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers, and eventually progressed to the digging of trenches(placer pits), and finally in the early 1900's, the excavation of deep shafts in the search of veins of gold hidden in the earth began.

Gulleys left from strip mining at Franklin Gold Mine.
At this time, Virginia and her sister states of the South became the major gold producing region in the nation. By the 1830's, gold produced in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia amounted to $1,000,000 per year.

Of the mines that were in Fauquier County, the Franklin Gold Mine was one of the most famous. At this mine site, miners dug shafts up to 300 feet deep to reach the gold. From 1825 to the Civil War, this mine produced $1,200,000 worth of gold. There was also a mill on site that produced 5000 feet of lumber per day, bunk houses where the miners slept, work offices, a mess hall for dining, and small railroad tracks.

300 foot old mine shaft at Franklin
Property which contained gold was also used as farmland. Many times miners would work on the farm during the day and then work in the mines at night.

Look for additional and upcoming information about the mines in Fauquier County!

Remnants of the dynamite shed used at the Franklin Gold Mine


The Gold Mining camp area of Monroe Park has four primary interpretive objectives. One of the foremost objectives is to establish the Gold Mining Camp area as a visitor attraction related to gold mining. Other objectives to follow include interpreting the story of gold mining in the Goldvein story within the context of the search for gold in Virginia and North America, and finally to personalize this history by portraying everyday life in a gold mining camp.

Currently, signage along Route 17 has been installed to help visitors find the park, as well as limited gold panning demostrations and interpretive programs to local community groups and visitors of the park.

Since the park and museum area is fairly new, Fauquier County Parks and Recreation Department is only beginning to acquire interpretive resources, including artifacts, photos and paintings. Eventually the Gold Mining Camp area will consist of outdoor wayside exhibits, indoor exhibits in the Mess Hall publications and living history programs at the park, as well as outreach programs to the community.