The California Gold Rush
On the morning of January 24, 1848, a carpenter named James Marshall was building a water-powered sawmill for trader John Sutter along a river in Clifornia. Near the bottom of a waterway that Marshall's men had been digging, something yellow was glittering. Marshall scooped up the object and said later, "It made my heart thump. I was certain it was gold."
Triggered by Marshall's discovery, 80,000 people swarmed into the California territory in 1849, the first year of the Gold Rush. Quickly the settlers moved to draw up a Constitution and California was admited to the Union. The new settlers, often called "forty-niners" for the year when they had come searching for gold, lived a hard life of panning for gold in every stream and river throughout California. Some made it rich, but most did not. One prospector wrote home saying."I tell you the mining among the mountains is a dog's life."
By 1860, California had a population of 379,994--up from 26,000 just 12 years earlier. During this period, the free spending of prospectors that had found gold helped to create the cities of San Francisco and Sacramento, as well as other communities.
Most miners who were not so lucky in finding gold either found a way back home or became farmers and ranchers in California's Central Valley.
California's Gold Rush was by no means to be the last one. A gold ruch to Colorado in 1858 was marked by the slogan "Pikes Peak or Bust," and prospectors found gold in the Yukon in 1896.
Gold rushes have caused the development of mines and cities in many parts of the world, including Austrailia, South Africa, West Africa, Malaya, Mexico, and Siberia.
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