National Geographic : 1974 Feb
Drive-in gem mines of North Carolina promise a chance to strike it rich-or to have a good time try ing-for a small entry fee. Here near Franklin, buckets of earth selling for 25 cents each may yield a ruby or a sapphire. First-time sifters (below) ignore a summer rain as they wash away dirt and pick over small stones. A mineowner laughed, "If I tried to hire people to work that hard, no body would. But these people pay me for the privilege." Mine em ployees help newcomers recognize pay dirt-greasy-looking six-sided stones that, upon cutting, may prove to be of gem quality.