The forests and rivers of Western North Carolina are filled with precious stones. Aquamarine, emerald, tourmaline, sapphire – these are but a few of the treasures to be found at any one of the local gem mines. Gem mining is an important part of the area’s heritage – with a rich well of natural resources ranging from the more utilitarian minerals like mica and feldspar to the fine, luxury stones like ruby and amethyst, the environment surrounding Burnsville is a hotbed of mining activity. Today, visitors can partake in the excitement of mining their own precious stones at any of the following locations:
Spruce Pine Gem Mine
The Spruce Pine Gem Mine has a long history dating back over 200 years. Indeed, the family that owns the site holds the illustrious honor of being known by the Smithsonian Institute as the oldest continuing mining family in the nation. Visitors to the mine will not only have access to the extensive history of the era, but will actually mine for their own gems from the finest gem ore taken from native gem mines. Spruce Pine Gem Mine is located 18.5 miles from Downtown Burnsville, in Spruce Pine, NC.
Emerald Village is a full day trip in and of itself. Located just 14.5 miles from Downtown Burnsville in Little Switzerland, NC, Emerald Village transports you to a totally different time and place. Take an underground tour of the Bon Ami Mine, complete with a history lesson on the area and the thrill of being up close and personal with the Bon Ami Waterfall. Or, for the diggers among us, purchase a Gem Bucket and mine for your own special treasures. Tours of the Discovery Mill, rugged adventures in the world renowned Crabtree Emerald Mine, and After Dark Black Light tours of the underground mine are also available.
Located just 17 miles east of Downtown Burnsville, in Spruce Pine, NC, Gem Mountain offers several mines for visitors to explore. Rockhounds can expect to unearth mainly aquamarine, as this location primarily sources the beautiful green and blue gemstone. A perfect outing for families, friends, adventurers and curious travelers, Gem Mountain will leave you feeling excited and flushed with the glow of discovery.