Prospecting for gold.

Coker Creek, Tennessee


Ed, Eggo and I spent the day prospecting for gold in  Coker Creek, Tennessee. Our findings were small but we plan on going back and camping out for a few days and check out other areas of the creek. Coker creek is a nice creek that runs from the side of what used to be called Gold Mountain, turns south, and drops into the Hiwassee River. All along this creek you can find gold. The problem is that most of it is on private property, and you are not allowed to prospect without owners permissions… most will not give it.

Most people are unaware that the very first Gold Rush in the US was in Monroe County,Tennessee, right in the area of Coker Creek. Gold was first discovered here in 1827 but the land was owned by the Cherokee nation at the time and the boom was considered as unofficial. The official boom didn’t start until around 1836 when it became clear that the native Cherokee and other tribes would not lay claim on the gold since they were being deported on the infamous “Trail of Tears” ordered by Congress and President Andrew Jackson, in defiance of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall.

As soon as it became clear that all potential problems were cleared, the Gold Rush began. By then, however, the “official” Gold Rush had already started in Dahlonega, Georgia.

Hiking the Unicoi Turnpike Trail

I hiked along the Unicoi Turnpike Trail with Eggo for a short distance. At Coker Creek, the lush forest opens into the Doc Rogers Fields where  the Cherokee National  Forest has restored the native grasses along the creek bottom.
The Unicoi Turnpike Trail, also know as the “Trail of Tears”, is one of the oldest known travel routes in North America. What a sense of sorrow to be walking in the footsteps of the Cherokee Indians as they were forced from their lands. This ancient pathway is rich in history and served as the main route between the Atlantic coastland the interior of the Southeast.

As you hike through the Cherokee National Forest between Unicoi Gap and the Doc Rogers Fields, you will follow the footsteps of people who have traveled this path for centuries. Along the way you will discover the marker for the murdered  toll gate-keeper and the remnants of Rolling Stone CCC Camp.