For many it is a surprising story: that North Carolina was the site of America’s first gold rush, and that a German immigrant living in the small mountain town of Rutherfordton in Rutherford County created a successful private mint that produced the first $1 gold coin in American history. Now, a new documentary, Gold Fever and The Bechtler Mint, explores the story of North Carolina’s gold rush and tells how one talented, determined man filled a need and transformed an entire region by changing the economy, and instilling a pride that is still evident to this day.

It is a tale of ingenuity, skill, and determination. In the 1830s and 1840s, German immigrant Christopher Bechtler, Sr. and his family settled in the little town of Rutherfordton, establishing a coining business that produced America’s first $1 gold coin and ushered in a whole new era of commerce and trade.