Charlotte, NC (WBTV) - Dig deep in North Carolina's soil and you'll find treasures buried below. This week I took a trip to Hiddenite to visit the country's only public emerald mine. Hundreds flock to the Hiddenite Gem Mine each year to test their luck. I sat down to test mine, with the help of their friendly staff.
Steve Faucette has been in the business for more than forty years. He told me why this is the best mine around.
"We actually have the veins on site. We actually have the equipment to remove the material"
That material ends up in buckets and eventually onto the sluice line. Sluicing is the mine's most popular activity. It involves sitting on a bench and rinsing the soil in water to look for gems. If sluicing isn't your thing, the mine has two other activities available. One of those is creeking, which is perfect for a hot day. Visitors will actually hike through the creek, so wear old clothes!
Faucette says creeking is a particularly good activity after storms pass through. "Every time it rains new stuff is washed into the creek. So keep that in mind"
This tip impressed me, so I kept pressing. He finally shared his secret to find the big ones. " On the far side of rocks is good for gold nuggets or emeralds and other heavy gemstones," he said.
First timer Quintin David was lucky on his own. He found three good stones in a matter of hours.
" I found this one while out in the creek, and these two I found in the bucket I got with the whole combo," David says.
The combo he's referring includes unlimited sluicing and creeking for only eight dollars. If you prefer to sluice only, it will only cost you five dollars, and it comes with a free bucket. Additional buckets are available for purchase.
For those who prefer serious prospecting, dig around their seventy five acre property, and you'll find a large variety of stones. Some include aggots, jasper, aventurine, quartz crystals, smoky quartz, rose quartz, and emeralds. This only costs fifteen dollars and you get access to all three of the activities for the day.
It's hard to leave empty handed, but even if you don't find a million dollar emerald, it's a good time. David says people come back for the rush. "It's the excitement of actually finding something."
START: Charlotte, NC
1. Start out going SOUTHWEST on S TRYON ST toward W 4TH ST. (go 0.5 miles)
2. Turn RIGHT onto W HILL ST. (go 0.1 miles)
3. Merge onto I-277 S/US-74 W. (go 0.6 miles)
4. Merge onto I-77 N via EXIT 1C toward STATESVILLE. (go 42.0 miles)
5. Merge onto I-40 W via EXIT 51B toward HICKORY. (go 4.5 miles)
6. Take the US-64/NC-90 exit, EXIT 148, toward W STATESVILLE/TAYLORSVILLE. (go 0.3 miles)
7. Turn RIGHT onto W FRONT ST/US-64/NC-90. Continue to follow US-64. (go 9.3 miles)
8. Turn RIGHT onto LENTZ RD. (go 0.3 miles)
9. Turn LEFT onto NC-90. (go 2.7 miles)
10. Turn RIGHT onto SULPHUR SPRINGS RD. (go 0.8 miles)
11. Turn RIGHT onto EMERALD HOLLOW DR. (go 0.1 miles)
12. 424 EMERALD HOLLOW MINE DR. (go 0.0 miles)
END: Hiddenite Gems Emerald Hollow, 424 Emerald Hollow Mine Dr, Hiddenite, NC 28636 USCharlotte, NC US
TOTAL ESTIMATED TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes | DISTANCE: 61.05 miles