County’s rightful place in history

Published 7:45 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Way back when I was in school on a field trip to Montgomery to visit the Capitol, I still remember standing inside the rotunda, looking straight up and following the guide as she pointed out, “See that shiny part at the very top? That was mined in Coosa County and donated to the state.”

Now, I don’t know why that stuck with me all these years or why it mattered so much, but I have thought about that much since I was a young boy. This was before I even knew about Coosa, except the river. Since I made my home in Chilton County, the thought would not go away: Why Coosa County, could it not have been Chilton?

Guess what? I was going though some old stuff Ma Bates had given me a long time ago, and there was an interview from Mr. George Calloway as he told about the Ripito Gold Mines, located near what is now Verbena, operated from 1833 to 1849 and registered in Washington, D.C. The claim was filed in Rockford because we had not yet named this Chilton County! Yeah, I get excited about this kind of stuff!

Mr. Calloway from Holtville, near Verbena, told us about panning for gold on his 200-acre farm on Blue Creek where the old Ripito Mines used to be located before becoming inactive. When asked if he ever got much gold panning from the creek, he said, “I got enough to pay for my 200 acres and then some.”

Mr. Calloway said that a lot of people worked there during those years that the mine operated and that 1,200 pounds of the yellow stuff was mined there!

Now, The Cruiser has seen lots of people go upstream from behind Blue Creek Lodge with pans—folks from everywhere. Nobody wanted to talk about whether they had found any nuggets. If they had, do you think they would tell anyone?

If you have found this as interesting as I did, wait until you hear what a local storyteller’s father told him about the gold and getting it. Join me next week.

Meanwhile, I’m going to lobby to get Chilton County’s rightful place in history at our Capitol. That’s why they used to kid me about being Chilton County’s ambassador.