Twenty years before the famed 1849 gold rush in California, thousands of prospectors flocked into the Cherokee Nation in north Georgia, marking the true beginning of our country's first gold rush. Their dramatic story is told inside the historic 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse, the oldest courthouse in Georgia. Dahlonega prospered with this mining activity, and a U.S. Branch Mint opened in 1838, coining more than $6 million in gold before closing in 1861. The museum's exhibits include a set of these coins, a nugget weighing more than five ounces, a large hydraulic cannon and nozzle used to blast soil from mountainsides, a film and gift shop. Visitors can also explore the courthouse features, including beautiful wooden chapel seats from 1889 and the judge's chambers. The town of Dahlonega is a popular destination for gold panning, shopping and sightseeing.