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Portis Gold Mine

The Portis Gold Mine, located in the northeastern corner of Franklin County, was the first mine in the Eastern Carolina Belt (composed of Warren, Halifax, Franklin, and Nash Counties) and operated intermittently from about 1835 to 1936. The Portis gold deposit was in the rocks of the Spring Hope Formation in the eastern slate belt. The primary mining method has been identified as "hydraulicking" 15 to 30 feet of surface material, but recovery was hampered by the region's sticky clay. The total amount of gold mined is unknown. In 1884 the estimate was more than $1 million, and in 1972 one geologist projected that up to $7 million worth of gold was mined in that area.

By the end of the nineteenth century, gold in the Portis mine was difficult to find and there were no profits to be had. The final attempts to extract gold were by the Norlina Mining Company, which brought in heavy mining equipment and constructed an assay lab, a main building for the crushing equipment, a dormitory, a superintendent's house, a blacksmith and machine shop, and a six-million-gallon reservoir for the water required by the gold recovery process. The cost of the mining operation exceeded by one-third the value of the gold recovered, and the mine was closed in 1936.


P. Albert Carpenter III, Gold Resources of North Carolina (1972).

Richard F. Knapp, North Carolina Gold: A Selected Bibliography of Mining History, Technology, and the Reed Gold Mine (1978).

Thilbert H. Pearce, "The Portis Diggings," The State (1 Apr. 1972).

Bruce Roberts, The Carolina Gold Rush (1971).

Additional Resources:

Sketch of Portis Mine, North Carolina Maps, North Carolina Collection, UNC Libraries:

Gold Mines, NC Historical Marker E-89:

1869, 1870 Act to incorporate Portis Gold Mine in Franklin County:

1876,77 Bill to extend Portis Gold Mine in Franklin County:


Origin - location: 



Hello. I work for a lot clearing company. We recently dug up about 40 foot of mine cart rail from under a 100 year old pine in the justice area on seven paths road.

It sparked our intrest to see if maby there was a old mine or mine area. That should be mapped so no one falls in a shaft. Or many even a old building that could be added to historical records in the woods somewhere. If you'd like more information let me know.


Interesting find there Matt!


Hello Matthew,

I suggest contacting the North Carolina Office of Archaeology:

You can also fill out and submit a site form to their office to report what you've found:

Kind regards,

Molly Goldston, NC Government & Heritage Library


I forgot to mention that I've been a resident of Bailey, NC for almost 59 years now, and I'm just interested in the gold mines for historical value, I'm NOT looking to get rich! Thank you very much!


Are there more gold mines close to the Portis mine that people can visit?


Dear Jeff,

Thank you for submitting a question to NCpedia. The NC Environmental Quality Department has information about how to go about visiting mines. They do state that many are located on private property and that the owner should be contacted. Please see their site below for more information.

I hope this helps.


Elizabeth Hayden, Government & Heritage Library


Can the mine be visited? Or the grounds?NCpedia


Yes, the Portis mine can be visited and you can prospect. Please search google for the portis gold mine for days and times


Dear Mr. Freed,

Thank you for your question about the Portis Mine.

There is a historical marker on the old Portis property, and images on the web indicate that this property can be accessed. However, the mines themselves are no longer accessible.

Mike Millner, NC Government and Heritage Library


Please send me info

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