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Could an abandoned gold mine be an economic development tool?

CASTALIA -- One of the three goals for the Northeast Franklin County Revitalization Committee is to attract more people -- and their money -- to the oft-neglected portion of Franklin County.

A couple months ago, they took their own advice by touring a gold mine that straddles Nash and Franklin counties.

This Friday, they plan to tour another piece of property and talk with a landowner who has similar goals of bringing more tourists to the area.

The grassroots group hopes they can tie those developments into plans of their own, turning parts of a gold mine property in Franklin County into a museum and tourist attraction.

They visited a gold mine property by Tim Fisher -- who hopes to turn a 1900s-era gold dredge found on the property into a tourist attraction.

The Northeast group got a first-hand look at Fisher's site in an effort to cull ideas.

"While there has been a lot of discussion about the gold mine, only two board members had ever been to the site and that was when they were boys, visiting friends in the area," said Jim Foster, facilitator for the group.

"Seeing the two sites gave us all a better understanding of the location, what is there and how it looks today."

Group member Rex Foster was one of those people familiar with Fisher's gold mine site.

"When I was a little boy, my buddy I grew up with, part of his house was on Franklin County and the other part was on the Nash County side.

"... So, I would come down here and we'd spend the night and the first thing on Saturday morning, we'd be across the road going all over the old gold mine."

Fisher had a sort of youthful reverence for gold mines too when he decided to purchase the gold mine site in Nash County on Taylor's Store Road in Nashville about six years ago.

In November, he decided to investigate a mystery on the property -- timber sticking up from the ground in a low-lying area of the property.

Hearing it might be a dam and believing it might just be a piece of a long-ago forgotten mine, Fisher started digging.

What he found is what he believes to be a 1900s-era 100 Robinson Gold Dredge.

Ever since, it's been the topic of news accounts, the subject of prospective television shows and the interest of curious onlookers, essentially in an area that's in the middle of nowhere.

If Fisher is able to get the resources necessary to restore the dredge, that could change.

"I always think about boy scouts, girl scouts, church groups, science clubs, historians, there are so many different options of groups, educational groups, that would really get a good knowledge of the history coming out here to see it," said Jeffrey Tillitt, who films a number of Fisher's expeditions and adventures for Eastern Outdoor Expeditions.

"... It's kind of lost idea out here," Tillitt said. "You think of Centerville and then Hollister, and nothing in between except hunting land and farms."

"... [We] wanted to see the site, learn of Tim's plan for the site and get a feel for what it could become as a tourist attraction," Dr. Foster said.

"When Tim gets all of the proper permits, he has big plans for the location.

"There could be some made for television filming going on by year's end."

Fisher's finding and efforts coincide with Northeast Franklin's desires to buy some Portis Gold Mine land on the Franklin County side and develop it into a museum which would draw the curious, tourists and their dollars and interest to a long neglected section of Franklin County.

"[We] are in a better position to create a conversation about the gold mine as a tourist attraction as a result of the tour," Dr. Foster said. "We need a conversation about the possibilities, not only by the board of directors of the Northeast Franklin Revitalization Committee, but by the community and the county as a whole.

"Can it be a major tourist attraction? Can a Gold Mine tourist attraction be funded and promoted regionally?"

Those will be the next steps, Dr. Foster said.

Pictured (Above): GOLD RUSH. Above, members of the Northeast Franklin Revitalization Committee tour Tim Fisher's gold mine property in Nash County. Below, Fisher, center, shows off a mechanized sluice machine. (Times photos by Carey Johnson)

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Members Opinions:
May 15, 2020 at 10:59am
Could an abandoned gold mine be an economic development tool? Not if Caesar Cooper keeps the economy locked down until at least this November, which he will have to do if he wants to remain in good standing with the Democratic elite.

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