How To

How it’s done at the Cherokee Mine

Upon arriving at the mine, park temporarily to the right of our Mine Office, in the indicated Parking Area.  Please, DO NOT BLOCK THE ROAD!  The Mine Office is where you will pay your entrance fee, read your Safety Orientation and sign your Liability Waiver, learn the appearances of our gems, and collect the supplies you’ll need to search for our gems. Each miner is provided with a screen box and a seat cushion to use at our flume line. For a modest daily rental fee of $3.00, shade umbrellas are available to afford you some protection from the sun. Snacks and bottled water are also available for purchase at our mine shack.  Do not take Coon Creek Road, Flowers Gap Road, or Ruby Knoll Road..

Each miner is shown samples of our gemstones as they appear “in the rough” and provided with tips on how to identify the gemstones they might be lucky enough to find. Next, miners  will park their cars down by the flume line and get started looking for gems.

PLEASE NOTE: Mining is physically demanding and time-consuming. Proper attire, especially proper footwear, is required. Gloves are highly recommended.

To search for gemstones miners select One (1) 2-gallon bucket of gem ore from our staging and seating area. Miners then proceed to the flume line, where they rest their screen boxes across the flume so that they can fill it with dirt from their selected buckets. Filling their screen box with about 1/4 of the gem ore from their buckets, miners then place their screens into the clear, cold creek water flowing through our flume line or ‘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”.

It is important to note that washing and searching each bucket takes from 30 minutes to one hour (or more) to properly and thoroughly process.

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 gravels, and a thorough washing often makes their color & unique luster “pop out” in the screenbox.

Once satisfied that their gravel is thoroughly clean, miners then rest their screens back across the flume line 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. 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 as gemstones. Check out our Cherokee Ruby Mine Facebook instructional videos on the web for additional information.

We recommend you bring the following items:

Workboots, Sunscreen, Food, Non-Alcoholic Beverages, Work Gloves, Insect Repellent, Foul-Weather Gear, Long-Sleeved Shirts, Long Pants, Extra Socks, Garden Trowel/Hand Shovel, and, if you wish to take your gravel home and go through it again, a Five-Gallon Bucket.  We have also found that the new high-output LED headlamps are very useful for cloudy and rainy days (we suggest that you obtain the type that uses the #18650 or similar rechargeable batteries) to better see locate and identify gems.

We recommend you DO NOT BRING the following items:

Alcoholic Beverages, Flip-Flops or Other Delicate Footwear, Hard-Rock Mining Tools, Beach Umbrellas (due to insurance requirements, only mine-issued umbrellas are permitted).