Friday, March 27, 2009

Quick hits: New state park and an old mine is still a gold mine

House approves state park at Grandfather Mountain
"The newest addition to North Carolina's state parks system will be backcountry parts of Grandfather Mountain," says the Asheville Citizen-Times.

"The state is in the process of buying land around the 6,000-foot peak from the family of the property's owner, philanthropist and photographer Hugh Morton, for $12 million. The state House gave final approval Thursday to making the Avery County site a state park once the deal is complete.

"The state park will cover about 2,400 acres of undeveloped land. The Morton family will operate the nature center, wildlife habitats and swinging bridge on 600 acres near the top. But a conservation easement on that land will halt efforts to build housing subdivisions, condominiums, ski slopes and other types of commercial development."

Mine-ful of the past

"The mine is dank, musty and cool, with green fuzz growing on the rocky walls and a stand of mushrooms thriving on the gravel floor. Heavy wooden timbers brace the walls and ceiling.

"Darkened tunnels branch off to the left, right, or even straight up, barred by wooden slats and braced with timbers wedged in at crazy angles," says the Winston-Salem Journal.

"The Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site, on 880 acres near Midland, quietly awaits the next rush of visitors.

"Hard times attract visitors happy to pay $2 to pan through one pile of dirt hoping for gold.

"Site manager Sharon Robinson can tell you right away what gold is bringing on any given day -- it was $925 an ounce recently -- and higher prices attract an increase in visitors to her out-of-the-way historic site. ..."

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