Heritage Gold Mine Park

Useful Information

Location: 209 N Mine St, McCormick
Open: MAY to OCT 1st and 3rd Sat 9-16.
Open on Spring Bonanza (16-APR-2011) and Gold Rush Day (17-SEP-2011)-
Fee: Adults USD 3, Children (0-4) free.
Classification: MineGold Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Heritage Gold Mine Park, Dave Gray, Park Manager, E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1852 gold discovered by William Burkhalter Dorn.
1853 land purchased from the owner, Dr. John Wayland Hearst, and Dorn Mine opened.
1871 mines purchased by McCormick's investment group.
1883 mines closed.
12-DEC-1985 put on the National Historic Register.
MAY-2005 Heritage Gold Mine Park opened.


There is a band of gold-bearing rocks which were formed over 600 million years ago by volcanic activity. It runs from northern Virginia to eastern Alabama and is known as the Carolina Slate Belt. In western South Carolina it is known as Western Piedmont gold fields.

Today the gold field is depleted, but small amounts of gold are still found in all streams near McCormick as placer deposits.


Heritage Gold Mine Park is located at the former site of the Dorn's Mine in McCormick. Both names are strongly related to the mining history of South Carolina. Actually there was not much mining in South Carolina, but there is a belt of gold bearing rocks crossing the state. In the mid 19th century several mines tried to mine some gold, but most of them were not very productive. But Dorn's Mine was the most productive mine of the area, producing 44,000 ounces of gold during its operation.

Billy Dorn was a farmer, who was hooked by the prospect to find gold. He leased land for gold exploration which he payed with borrowed money. And finally all collapsed, but only three days before he would have loosed all he owned, he discovered a vein of gold just under the surface at Peak Hill. According to legend he was hunting with his foxhounds, and the dogs were scratching the ground, so Dorn could see the gold vein. The land was owned by Dr. John Wayland Hearst, and Dorn purchased it in 1853 from Hearst. He used slaves from his farm to create a 100 m long trench, 5 m wide and 3 m deep, where he mined the gold open cats. The trench is visible until today.

Dorn made a small fortune in just one year. He paid USD 1,200 for the land and extracted gold for USD 300,000. Then he sold the mine to the New Yorker William Lloyd for only USD 17,000, but also for a share of profits. Lloyd managed the mine for the next 10 years, 125 tunnels were dug, totaling 7,200 m. With his money Dorn purchased land and slaves to mine the gold.

On 16-AUG-1855 Dorn (56) marrried 15 year old Martha Jane Rutledge and they had eight children over the course of 18 years. He used his money to support the Confederacy in the Civil War. He actually outfittted an entire Confederate regiment, the Fifteenth South Carolina Infantry Regiment ("Dorn's Invincibles"). But at the end of the war he lost his free slave labor, and couldn't afford to pay them as miners. So he closed all his mines. He was almost broke, because he cantinually spent all his money. He earned a little for leases, several companies believed they could still find more gold, but the mines were almost depleted.

An investment group headed by Cyrus McCormick invested in the mines in 1869 and finally buys them in 1871. But the gold is almost depleted and so they closed the mines 1883. He auctioned a part of the land off for the construction of a city, which was later named after him. McCormick also invested in two railroad companies, the Greenville and Augusta Railroad, and the Savannah Valley Railroad. He convinced them to build a connection line which met at the town. As a result the economy of the town increased and he was able to sell even more ground after he closed the mines, so his investment payed off.