Glitter of gold once pulled Cabarrus together

In 1949 the 150th anniversary of Conrad Reed’s discovery of a 17-pound nugget in Little Meadow Creek — which predated the California gold rush by half a century — was celebrated locally with pride and enthusiasm. Events in Concord included an outdoor drama, a beard-growing contest, a Miss Cabarrus Gold pageant, an air show, a midway, a performance by massed choirs and a visit by Gov. Kerr Scott.

In 1977 Reed Gold Mine opened as a state historic site — an idea envisioned and advocated by H. G. Jones during his tenure as state archivist.

By the gold bicentennial in 1999, however, Cabarrus County had more than doubled in size. Age and emigration had diminished the pool of those who claimed deep roots, and newcomers lacked their sense of place. Though spirited, celebration at Reed Gold Mine paled beside the ambitious community undertaking of 1949.

Pictured: From the collection a silk (I think) ribbon from the Sesquicentennial.

3 thoughts on “Glitter of gold once pulled Cabarrus together”

  1. I have a Wooden nickel from 10-14-1949, commemorating the first discovery of gold in the US in Cabarrus County, NC in 1799. Could you give me some information about this? Is it worth anything?
    Phyllis Hamilton

  2. Phyllis,
    We checked with a friend of the North Carolina Collection who’s a coin collector. He tells us that the wooden nickel to which you refer is called a “flat” by collectors. Flats became popular in the late 1930s. The flats were used to commemorate a variety of events and causes.

    Our friend tells us a single wooden nickel would probably sell in the range of $3-5 depending on the condition. Collectors don’t usually accept flats that are broken, chipped or missing an edge. If you have a complete set of flats, you might be able to get a few additional dollars.

    Finally, our friend tells us that there are collector groups for exonumia (a term for wooden nickels and other tokens). I found a listing of some of the organizations here:

    We can’t vouch for the accuracy of the list.

    You may just want to do a Google search for wooden nickel and see what it turns up.

    Good luck.

  3. I would be interested in buying one for my dad he is 80 years old and can not find his wooden nickel . We have looked for it but with no luck, If it is in good shape I would pay 3 times the value around 12 to 15 dollars for one if you would decide to sell one . Thanks Floyd Carter.

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