The Pigeon Forge Gem Mine is a recreation of the old Ruby and Sapphire mines that were in the Cowee Valley in North Carolina in the mid-1800's. The miners would divert a stream onto a flume and dig bucket of dirt from the diverted stream bed and then wash away the dirt and clay using screened boxes in the flume - with luck they would find a few stones after a day of digging. Some areas proved better than others, but by the 1930's they knew no one was going to get rich mining for Ruby's and Sapphires, although the town of Franklin NC located in the Cowee Valley area refers to themselves as the Gem Capital of the World. The remaining mines were open to the public so they could mine for a price.
The Pigeon Forge Gem Mine, unlike the mines it is fashioned after, have buckets with gemstones from all over the world, including Franklin, NC - and i'ts in sand instead of clay and dirt. A bucket or two will brings you more gemstones than the old miners would find in a week.