Gold Hill: E.H. Montgomery General Store, Bluegrass Jam, & More!

by | Feb 16, 2023 | Municipalities

In the eastern part of Rowan County, just off Highway 52, is the restored gold mining town of Gold Hill, North Carolina. Arriving in the town, visitors are greeted with an authentic feel of a gold mining town. There are wooden sidewalks and historical attractions such as the original Rock Wall that was a feature of the town jail that was initially built in 1845. Additionally, the main street of retail shops begins with two prominent stores: Mauney’s Store & Museum and E.H. Montgomery General Store. These two shops sit directly across the street from each other and both buildings have been restored to appear as they did when they were first built; all features that add to Gold Hill’s historical charm. While the town is no longer a functioning mining town, the history is very much present and highlighted to continue sharing for generations to come.

Gold First Discovered

Appropriately named after its first discovery of gold in 1824, the town later became incorporated in 1843. At the first discovery of gold, mining began in the Barnhart Mine at 435ft and Randolph Mine at 850ft.  Over time, the main street of the town grew and developed to span over a mile long. This street included at least twenty-six merchant shops, three saloons, a thirty-room hotel, and a two-story mining office. Gold Hill grew to such a success that the Mayor of Charlotte was quoted at the time as saying that “Charlotte will one day be as big and prosperous as Gold Hill”.  History reports that this prosperity occurred a decade before the gold strike that is famously known to have occurred in Sutter’s Mill California, which is more commonly associated with gold mining. Gold Hill continued to see success into the start of the Civil War when the mines ceased production by the year 1915.


E.H Montgomery General Store

One of the local attractions that offers visitors the opportunity to pull up a chair, grab a treat, and enjoy a nice conversation is the E.H Montgomery General Store. The general store is located at 770 St Stephens Church Rd, Gold Hill, NC 28071. When you step inside the door, you are immediately greeted with warmth from the pot-bellied wood burning stove, smiling hellos from the people in attendance, and nostalgia from southern days passed.  Immediately to the left of the door there sits an old-fashioned gold-colored working cash register. Not only is beautiful in color, but it also functions to sell the southern themed treats that that is offered as merchandise in the general store.

Vivian Pennington-Hopkins, owner, and operator of the E.H Montgomery General Store described the design of the store as intentional. She commented that all the goods sold in the store were hand selected and kept to a minimum to help maintain the integrity of the store. Vivian stated that the store has been through several transitions over the years, but that love, and care was used to return it back to its original structure as it stood in the mining days. The merchandise that is sold ranges from antiques oil lamps & children’s books, Old-Fashion Amish Jams, handpicked pecans, glass bottle sodas, cookies, Hershey’s Shake Floats, and hand-dipped ice cream featuring their famous Gold Rush Salty Carmel Sundae that has a sprinkle of gold dust. All these delicious treats are often enjoyed in house on Friday nights while listening to live Blue Grass Music.

Blue Grass Music Jam

For the past two decades, part of local tradition is that people gather on Friday nights at The E.H. Montgomery Store to join in both playing and listing to the Bluegrass Music Jam. All year long, musicians from all over the region come together from 7pm-9pm to listen to traditional Bluegrass and Old-Time music. The musicians gather in the middle of the room, people positions chairs in any vacant space available, and others stand on the outskirts of the room dancing and joining in with contagious vibrations that the Blue Grass Music emits throughout the space. Vivian reports that all are welcome to attend in person or join in by viewing the live stream from Facebook.

Tours Available

E.H. Montgomery Store also offers educational/history tours for all ages, schools, colleges, universities, church groups or civic organizations and clubs. If someone is interested in learning more about the local history of Gold Hill or seeing the local sites, there are booklets for a self-guided tour that is available for purchase. The self-guided tour will lead you pass many places such as the Barnhardt Shaft, Gold Hill Jail/Rock Wall, Chilean Ore Mill, the Site of the Eames-Newman Mansion, Stationary Steam Engine and Boiler, Powder House, and Gold Hill Rail Trail, which will loop you back to where you started at the general store. Following this path will lead you through historical Gold Hill allowing you to experience it first-hand.

About The Author

Sherri Hill

I am a native of Rowan County, having lived here my entire life. I was educated and graduated from the North Rowan School System in 2003 and earned my Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from Catawba College in 2007. My professional experience has encompassed the roles of being a therapist, clinical director, grant writer, clinical supervisor, and working in program development. Currently, I am a Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) Consultant for N.C. Department of Public Safety, Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency as well as a family therapist. My professional accomplishments were highlighted in the 2019 edition of Focus magazine in Davidson County, when I was nominated as “A Women Who Inspires”. I am a member of Zeta Phi Beta, Inc. and also serve as the Board Chair of Communities in Schools of Davidson County/ Lexington City Schools. Additionally, I volunteer with Rowan Helping Ministries, and I am a member of Rowan County Young Professionals. When I am not volunteering, I love spending time outside in the sun playing with my two dogs.