Cowee Gift Shop and

Mason Mountain Mine

Franklin, NC
Covered Flume Area
Handicap Accessible
About Us

Family Owned and Operated by Tom and Ginger Johnson

Mason Mountain Mine Flume

Mason Mountain Mine Flume

In the late 1800's, a mine was discovered in northern Macon County that was rich in Rhodolite garnets and six other minerals. The mine was a well-known treasure to the county's earliest inhabitants and in 1965, when Tom Johnson was just six months old, his father purchased the mine. Today, the mine is still in the family with Tom and his wife, Ginger, continuing the family's legacy of opening the mine, now known as Cowee Gift Shop and Mason Mountain Mine.

The family mining tradition has remained making the mine a popular gathering site for families and miners from all over the world who come to Macon County still searching for gems.

In addition to Rhodolite garnets, named for the native Rhododendron that grows across the mountains, the property has six other minerals – Corundum, which is Ruby and Sapphire, Kyanite, Moonstone, Smokey Quartz, Garnet, and Cordierite (a form of Iolite).

At Mason Mountain Mine customers become friends and friends become family!

gem mining franklin nc

We offer the best hands-on training you will ever need to begin finding gemstones. Once you find a few, bring them to our gift shop to have them examined by one of our professional staff to see if any can be cut into something beautiful!
Tom & Ginger, Your Hosts

watermelon rubies


Looking for that special souvenir? When you stop by our gift shop our friendly staff will happily assist you. As you browse our shop, you will find gems and minerals from our property, surrounding areas and from all over the world. Whether you are looking for jewelry, T-shirts, hats, specimens, toys, or home decor you can find it in our gift shop.

Gem Mine Hours 2023


(Mar. 1 thru Oct. 31)

August 17 = CLOSED
November 1 – 7 = CLOSED

Sunday – CLOSED
Monday – 9am-5pm
Tuesday – 9am-5pm
Wednesday – CLOSED
Thursday – 9am-5pm
Friday – 9am-5pm
Saturday – 9am-5pm


(Nov. 8 – Dec. 23)

Nov. 23 = CLOSED
Dec. 23 – Dec. 31 = CLOSED

Sunday – CLOSED
Monday – CLOSED
Tuesday – CLOSED
Wednesday – CLOSED
Thursday – 10am-3pm
Friday – 10am-3pm
Saturday – 10am-3pm


Gem Mine Hours 2024

Jan. & Feb. 2024 = CLOSED
Opening Day = March 1, 2024


Cutting Lesson $150.00 (Must make a paid reservation)

Return Policy – If you are unhappy with your purchase, we do offer exchanges only.

Exchanges must be made within 30 days of purchase date, returned in original packaging with receipt!



Tom teaches gem cutting lessons throughout the season.

Cutting demo lesson: $150.00

All lessons are by appointment only.
​To schedule a lesson call (828) 421-1457
gem mining franklin nc
gem mining franklin nc


At Mason Mountain Mine you can have your treasures turned into jewelry that will last forever. Our knowledgeable staff can assist you in identifying which findings would best make into gemstone jewelry. A wide selection of mountings from rings, pendants, earrings, and bracelets help customers design that unique piece of jewelry.

Pricing of cutting and mountings vary depending on the size of stones and whether mounts are silver and gold.

Contact our gift shop at:

(828) 421-1457 for pricing.

Gem Mining

Dig Your Own

Our native dirt pile where your gem mining experience begins. Native dirt from the private mine site located atop Mason Mountain is brought down to this pile for miners to sift through. Soil samples from this location indicate a wide variety of minerals including Rhodolite Garnet, Ruby, Sapphire, Kyanite, Moonstone, Cordierite and Smoky Quartz.

Our experienced staff will guide you in how to discover native material. We have a gemstone chart available to help you identify your findings as well.

Just place the dirt in the screen and rinse thoroughly. Concentrate on material that is smooth, heavy and has color. Until you become familiar with the native material, be sure to have our staff help you in the beginning.

  • Dig: $40.00
Super Buckets:

To ensure gems are discovered, miners can purchase enhanced buckets that have gems added to the native dirt. This will guarantee a find of additional minerals.
These buckets are many of our miners' favorites!

  • $30.00 Super Bucket (approx. 4-6 pounds of gems)
  • $50.00 Super Bucket (approx. 10 pounds of gems)
  • $100 Super Bucket (approx. 20 pounds of gems)
  • $300 Super Bucket (approx. 50 pounds of gems)

For our avid rockhounds, we offer barrels that range from $500.00 to $1,500.00. ​These barrels are said to “Rock your world” as a rockhound.

​Once your mining is completed at the flume line, be sure to take your findings into the gift shop for identification by the shop staff. The staff will select any findings that could be cut and made into jewelry. We offer cutting and jewelry making for our customers. Our turn around time ranges from 3-8 weeks depending on the season.

We Ship Dirt

Can't make it during our season?
​No worries, we ship dirt all over the United States. Please visit our ONLINE STORE to purchase one of these buckets and have it shipped to you.

​Or call us at (828) 421-1457 to have some magical dirt delivered to your front door!

Mark Your Calendars


Reservations are required for all Mine and Super Supper Bucket events. Please call (828) 421-1457 to reserve your spot.
Mine Event - Super Supper Bucket Event

Private Guided Mine Excursion
2 Hours
Must be 18 years old
Please call (828) 421-1457 to make a PAID reservation.
Cost $200 per person per event.

Emergency Services Night

Saturday, June 3
6 pm – 10 pm
Call for details

Night Mining

July 8
7 pm – 11 pm
All rates apply
No reservations needed

Customer Appreciation Day
October 14
9 am – 5 pm
No reservations needed


Based on 197 reviews
Kala Bundy
Kala Bundy
January 23, 2023
We stopped in unexpectedly for an extra vacation activity. Not only was this staff beyond friendly. From the time we got out of the car to finishing our experience gem mining. John was a delight. He makes this experience totally about the kids and continues to interact with all of their findings. We spent an hour and a half and not once felt rushed, and actually learned a lot from John. His passion alone made the experience. Highly recommend it’s worth it.
Matthew Phelps
Matthew Phelps
November 16, 2022
Great place to spend the day. Very friendly and a fun experience.
Jim Schmishma
Jim Schmishma
October 29, 2022
Been to the mine 5 times in 2 years. Fun for whole family. Staff is very helpful and knowledgeable. Save your money for the Cowee Gift Shop. Don't spend your hard earned money downtown. Will return again next year. And prolly the next. Thank you to John and all the staff.
Binulal Balakrishnan
Binulal Balakrishnan
September 27, 2022
👍🏻👍🏻cool place
T Quinn
T Quinn
September 21, 2022
Drove into town specifically to visit Cowee Gift Shop and Mine. It did NOT disappoint. We spent over 4 hours going through the native buckets and then purchased one saltes bucket when our 6-year-old ran out of patience. The staff is very helpful. We were thrilled with our finds. We are over 2 hours away but will definitely make another trip out!
John H. Tyte Sr.
John H. Tyte Sr.
August 10, 2022
Great place to stop and shop! Courteous employees.
Cathy K
Cathy K
August 5, 2022
Had a great time while visiting the area. The staff members were very friendly & helpful. Tom cut a topaz for me & I’m extremely pleased by what a great job he did! Received it when it was expected as well.
Kaitlynn Taylor
Kaitlynn Taylor
August 3, 2022
Best value for what they offer and gems you can find! Very friendly staff and owners!

Bobby & I have been coming to Mason Mt Mine for about 10 years or so. Feel like part of the family! It is a place to relax, dig in the dirt, learn something new every time and most of all, make new friends! You won't find better native dirt in the area(and we've tried almost every mine) and Tom & Ginger are some of the sweetest souls you will ever meet! We love it here and send as many Pittsburgh folks down as we can! Very grateful for the Johnsons!

Bobby and Linda Joyce

Pittsburgh, PA

Cowee Gift Shop and Mason Mountain Mine

When we first started mining, we checked out several mines. We fell in love with mining here. Tom and Ginger always have knowledgeable employees at the mine to help you know what to look for! They sort your rocks and tell you what’s good, pretty or just leaverite (leave it right on the ground).

Ginger has an eye for design and Tom cuts and finishes the stone to perfection. Large stones or small, cabochon or faceted, silver or gold, the jewelry comes out looking amazing. Each year we add to our beautiful collection of jewelry. We know the stones are real! We mined them. We know the settings are good quality and the workmanship top quality.

The gift shop has a wide variety of single stones or beautiful jewelry already made and ready to wear.

Tom, Ginger, and  Brad; as well as Benji’s and Brandon's families became friends as we visited yearly. Now they are extended family.

We've brought family and friends to share our mining experience!

Helen and Howard Ashenfelter

Morgantown, WV

We furnish all mining equipment

We Ship Dirt

Buckets can be purchased and mailed right to your doorstep. Please visit our ONLINE STORE to purchase buckets that can be shippped to you. Or call us at (828) 421-1457 with questions.

Find Our Gift Shop and Gem Mine

Our Location

We are conveniently located 5.5 miles north of Franklin, NC in the Cowee Valley of Macon County. We sit nestled against Mason Mountain along Hwy 28 North between Franklin and Bryson City.

5315 Bryson City Road, Franklin, NC 28734


(828) 421-1457

(text only after hours please)

5315 Bryson City Road, Franklin, NC 28734

Drop us a line!