Gold Hill’s Hopkins chosen as new ‘Road Scholar’ for North Carolina

  • Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 12:01 a.m.
Vivian Hopkins
Vivian Hopkins

GOLD HILL — The N.C. Humanities Council has chosen Vivian Pennington Hopkins, vice president of the Historic Gold Hill and Mines Foundation, as a new “Road Scholar.”

Hopkins will be among the state council’s catalog of roughly 70 Road Scholars whose free lectures focus on issues of history, literature, philosophy, ethics, religious studies, music and other topics.


“As a Road Scholar,” Hopkins says, “I will be able to take our little known gold story across the state to educate a broader audience on the importance of our gold history and the social and economic impact of that first documented gold discovery (in Cabarrus County)in North Carolina in 1799.”

Hopkins was invited in August 2012 to apply to be a Road Scholar speaker. She received notification last November of her selection. Her two-year contract has just begun.

“A friend and fellow Road Scholar, John Santa from Chapel Hill, introduced me to the program director, and I had no clue they were considering me for inclusion in the program,” she said.

Hopkins is well-known locally as an author, editor, historian and bluegrass musician. She has worked tirelessly in promoting Gold Hill, its park and the unique village now in place.

In her speaking engagements statewide, Hopkins’ program will focus on gold mining history in Gold Hill and how the small town was affected by a sudden influx of European cultures and people looking to make it rich.

Through the years, Hopkins has been a guest speaker at civic clubs and other organizations. She also has worked with the Rowan History Club and its history course.

“After 20-plus years of studying the gold-mining region of North Carolina, I began presenting a program on the history of Gold Hill and the 19th century mining district,” she says. “The program now after 14 to 15 years of presentations has brought me full circle in my original goal of promoting the gold history of North Carolina.”

She has added a PowerPoint presentation, and in recent years, has been asked to address incoming freshmen at Pfeiffer University about the cultural diversity and history surrounding the campus.

By the early 1840s, Gold Hill was becoming known as North Carolina’s gold-mining capital and had the richest, most famous mines east of the Mississippi River.

Hopkins’ Road Scholar program is titled “If Picks and Shovels Could Talk: Gold Mining History in North Carolina.” Among other things, it references newspaper articles and letters handed down through generations to help tell the stories of the mines and people.

Hopkins’ gold history research focuses on and continues the research of Dr. Brent Glass’ doctoral work on the same subject. Glass, director emeritus of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, has endorsed her work and the gold history program.

Hopkins is a Wilkes County native. She has authored or coauthored several books on Gold Hill mining and publishes a newsletter for the foundation. She is currently writing “Gold Hill, N.C. — A Pictorial History of the Gold Hill Mining District.”

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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