HOLLISTER, N.C. (WNCN) – The magic of Portis Gold Mine is hidden from the untrained eye.

Driving up N.C. 561, it would be easy to miss the entrance to Portis Gold Mine. A small blue sign is the only marker that anything exists beyond the dense trees. A short, winding path opens up to a clearing with an unassuming trailer in the center.

Arriving at the mine just an hour northeast of Raleigh, there were worries about the site being the wrong location.

Then, the welcoming face of mine owner Cory Carter led a visitor through a path into the woods to the primary mining hub of the property. Here, hydraulic pumps and a panning station fill the space.

For $15 a day, guests can mine wherever they want on the property. Carter offers free panning classes to beginners, and the more adventurous can rent any of the pumps for the day.

“It’s a place to get your feet wet if you want to find gold. We teach you how to find gold, what to look for, how to pan for it. We provide the equipment,” said Carter.

Gold was first discovered on the land in the 1830s. Since then it has existed off and on as a working mine. Carter is the latest steward of the land, which he runs as a recreational mine for enthusiasts.

Past the main mining space, the entire property is open to mining. Visitors can bring their own metal detectors to scour the land for gold or artifacts. Historically, there used to be a Free Black settlement next to where Portis Gold Mine stands today.

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Carter said that he finds artifacts he believes come from that era.

“Right up here in this pasture area, I find buttons, and flintlock muzzle loading bullets and various other things from the time period,” said Carter.

Guests can keep whatever they find on the property, whether it’s gold, stones, or artifacts.