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Charlotte, Denver and San Francisco Linked by a Golden Thread Long Before Super Bowl 50

A display of gold pans and gold nuggets at Reed Gold Mine
Midland

The golden logos of the NFL Super Bowl marketing, golden rings and a gold "50" to the winners, along with a moment in sports history are not the only golden features of Super Bowl 50. History gives the golden moment a more significant meaning.

Charlotte, home of the Carolina Panthers; Denver, home of the Denver Broncos; and the San Francisco area, where the game will be played in the San Francisco 49er's stadium, are cities that became prosperous because of gold discoveries in each region.
 
According to legend, 12-year-old Conrad Reed found a 17 pound gold nugget on a farm in Cabarrus County near Charlotte in 1799. His father used the shiny rock as a door stop for the family's log cabin until selling it for $3.50 in 1802. All of the area farmers began to look for the precious metal on news of a 28 pound nugget being found on the Reed farm in 1803.
 
By the 1820s two gold mines were operating in Charlotte, one right beside the present site Bank of America Stadium where the Panthers play - and some say tunnels run underneath it. So much gold was produced in North Carolina that the federal government opened a mint in Charlotte in 1837 to accommodate the nation's first gold rush. Charlotte's role as a banking center was predestined, and the gold boom town became an economic powerhouse.
 
James Marshall was building a water powered saw mill in 1848 along the American River in Coloma, Calif., when he recognized several shiny flecks in the water as gold. Word got out and the California gold rush of 1849 was on. San Francisco became the gateway city for thousands of prospectors arriving in California by sea and the city's population swelled. The 49ers team name pays homage to this gold rush and its importance to San Francisco. In 1850, California was granted statehood due, in large part, to gold mining. A mint was opened in San Francisco in 1854, two years after Wells Fargo opened a branch there. Today the banking giant has branches from San Francisco to Charlotte.
 
Gold was first discovered in Colorado during the summer of 1858 along the South Platte River. As more prospectors worked the area, early towns sprouted along the river. One of these towns was named for Kansas Territorial Governor James Denver. Denver became a supply hub for miners and many settled there after the rush was over. A secure wagon route was established to provide an artery to the east for settlers and commerce. The need for a new territory grew as Denver grew and the Colorado Territory was established in 1860. Sealing its place as a major producer of gold and silver, in 1863 the federal government opened a mint in Denver.
 
Three cities linked in origin by the hunt for gold, connected again by a golden game, Super Bowl 50. As viewers watch across America, few will know that a 12-year-old boy playing in a creek in rural North Carolina led to gold rush fever that would grip the country for over 100 years. That common heritage adds to this golden anniversary game the realization of how each of the three cities already has won.
 
Reed Gold Mine in Cabarrus County North Carolina preserves the site of the first documented discovery of gold in the U.S. Restored mine tunnels are shown by interpreters who share the story of the discovery and the work of miners to retrieve gold. Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site further interprets the history of North Carolina's mining heritage through exhibits, special events and off-site presentation.
 
For additional information, please call (704) 721-4625 or email reed@ncdcr.gov. Reed Gold Mine is located at 9621 Reed Mine Rd., Midland, N.C. and is 12 miles southeast of Concord, 25 miles east of Charlotte and 18 miles west of Albemarle. Reed is part of the Division of State Historic Sites within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

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