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How it's done at the Cherokee Mine
Upon arriving at the mine, park temporarily outside the mine shack pictured at left. Here's where you'll pay your entrance fee, and collect the supplies you'll need to search for gems. Each miner is provided with a screen box and a seat cushion to use at the flume line. For the modest daily rental fee of $1.00, shade umbrellas are available to afford you some protection from the sun.
Each miner is then shown samples of gemstones in the rough, and provided with tips on how to identify gems they might be lucky enough to find. Miners are then free to park their cars down by the flume line and get started looking for gems.

To search for gemstones, miners select a 2 gallon bucket or two from the staging area, then proceed to the flume line, where they rest their screen box across the flume so they can fill it with dirt from their buckets. Filling their screen box with about 1/4 of the gem dirt from their buckets, miners then place their screens into the clear creek water flowing through the 'sluice', and hand wash the gravel against the bottom of the screen box until all of the loose dirt has been removed, and the gem gravel is "clean".
Washing your gravel as cleanly as possible very often makes the difference between finding a gem, and coming home empty-handed. Gemstones - even in the rough - look different from the neighboring gravel, and a thorough washing often makes their color & unique luster "pop".
Once satisfied their gravel is clean, miners rest their screens back across the flume so they can sort through the gravel looking for the telltale signs of a gemstone. Helpful attendants are always available to assist you at the Cherokee Mine, so inexperienced miners shouldn't feel like they'll be left to fend for themselves. Heck, even if our attendants are busy helping other guests, our more experienced miners are usually very happy to help our guests identify stones they may question are gemstones.
Stay tuned for the Cherokee Ruby Mine's MySpace instructional video, coming Spring 2008!
If you are just interested in finding something neat, I would recommend one of the salted places. It takes less time and you'll find something, but won't be worth much. True rockhounds go to places like Cherokee to find only native gems and minerals.  Mark L - Herndon, VA
News & Events
 April 1st, 2014