Well, the adventure continues, with some sign of unlocking us from the quarantine.  Our Governor, feeling severe pressure from the public, will “allow” us to have some of our freedom back.

And, some day, we may decide what to call this thing.  The first, original and most accurate name was SARS Covid 2.  We do love our euphemisms so then it was the coronavirus.  That was too plain so it is now COVID-19.  And a pandemic, as if we have never had one of these before.  And, mysteriously the Charlotte Observer refers to it as “the novel coronavirus pandemic.”


As historic sites and facilities begin to re-open in a limited way, we will try to keep up and let you know which ones you can visit.  Show your support to your favorite sites by visiting and paying admission.  Also, this is a good time, until  you go back to work, to visit those sites you have long wanted to see, but just never had the time.


Site Status
The Gaston County Museum


To open Tuesday June 9th by appointment only www.gastoncountymuseum.org.
Matthews Heritage Museum Still closed, open soon



Doing History is Exciting and Fun. 


In last week’s note Barbara Taylor, Director of the Matthews Historic Museum told of her investigations of a local gold mine.  This stimulated several comments and some additional information.  These comments have been edited for length and clarity, any errors are the editor’s.


Harry Simmons is the owner of Industrial Laboratory Equipment, located near the Charlotte Airport.  He was for a long time the Commander of the Sixth NC Continental Line Rev War reenactment group.  He tells this story:

My office used to be in Matthews beside the Animal Clinic on W. John St.  Bill Floyd  who started our company after WW-II lived across the street.  Before the War his Mom and Dad ran a small airport between where Family Dollar and the QT Gas station are now.  The old gas station was our office.  The family also raised beef cows and much later sold the land to Family Dollar.

I used to walk around the woods where the movie house is now located.   There were placer pits and deep shaft mines all around.  I was afraid a bulldozer would fall in a hole when they started the shopping center and told the construction manager.  There were only trees on both sites back then

The shaft across Monroe Road was where warehouses and offices on Tower Point Drive are today. This is near Irvins Creek a tributary of McAlpine Creek.  This should not be confused with Irwin Creek, west of uptown.  .

When I started working with Bill Floyd in 1962 or 3, there was a nice brick house just behind the (now)  Auto repair garage below the theater.  This, I was told was the superintendents house for the Renfro Gold Mine.  Just to the right was a site where Duke Power operated a sub-station for the mine.  It took a lot of power.  I was told the mine operated up until WW-II and was shut down by the government.  Bill introduced me to the former manager or relative of the manager (a Renfro) who repeated the story.    If you turn west on Sardis Road North from Monroe Road and look on the right side, you will see placer pits and test pits all the way to Sardis Road.  This even with the new houses.

I used to pan as a hobby in the late 60s and have a small nugget from the gully behind our office.  It is interesting to note that all of the creeks in eastern Mecklenburg have flake gold.  I never found any flake gold there, only the one small nugget.


Jim Daniel now lives in Lexington, NC.  He is a historian and author and was also a Commander of the Sixth NC Continental Line Rev War reenactment group at one time.  He tells this story:


Many years ago we lived on Harp’s Mill Court in Matthews for about 10 years  before moving to Lexington in 1988.

It was a short walk from our house to the rear of the shopping center, behind the movie house.  I recall the concrete cap over the pit opening. The kids played along the creek where we found strong traces of copper, but no gold, although we weren’t panning.

Along Sardis road you could still see three to five foot diameter depressions from aborted attempts to find placer deposits.

Along Monroe road, approximately across the street from where the AutoBell car wash is now there was an old wooden gas station with a dirt lot, a Texaco I think. I was told that the settling ponds were on that location.

During WWII or soon thereafter there was a mineralogical survey along the creek resulting in it being listed as a potential secondary source for copper.


Barbara Taylor responds:


Yes I am familiar with a number of placer pits along Sardis.  David Blackley, now owner of the Renfro Hardware in Matthews, lives on that property.  When he was growing up he and his brothers found a number of grinding stones and his Dad moved them to their property.  And this was the third most productive mine in the area behind the two uptown ones.

I truly owe a big thanks to Robin Brabham because while he was doing research for early publications in North Carolina, he led me to the two pamphlets on the mine where I got most