The discovery of gold in the Sacramento Valley in early 1848 sparked the Gold Rush, it was one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century. As news spread of the discovery, thousands of prospective gold miners traveled by sea or over land to San Francisco and the surrounding area; by the end of 1849, the non-native population of the California territory was some 100,000 (compared with the pre-1848 figure of less than 1,000). A total of $2 billion worth of precious metal was extracted from the area during the Gold Rush, which peaked in 1852.
Early Gold Rush
On January 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter originally from New Jersey, found flakes of gold in the American River at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
- After this happened news spread and many adventures who wanted to get rich went west to find gold
Marshall was working to build a water-powered sawmill owned by John Sutter They wanted keep it a secret at first but when word got out many citizens were not believing. But when a man name Sam Brannan ran threw the small town of San Francisco and showed the residents gold he got out of the American River. Soon after news got out and people came from far away to pan for gold in the American and Surrounding rivers
- The effects of the Gold Rush were substantial. Whole indigenous societies were attacked and pushed off their lands by the gold-seekers
- Out of the 300,000 people half arrived from sea and half arrived by land traveling by wagon
- Samuel Brannan, the man who ran threw Sanfransisco Showing people gold accutllay made more money then most gold miners because before he did this he bought mining supplies knowing he was going to sell everything when he spread the news of gold
Life for Miners
Life was hard for miners during the gold rush. First the miners had to travel across the Great Plains to get to California this was long and expensive and some miners did not make it. Once they got to California miners would need to sell a lot of there possessions to get the supplies they need to mine. Also as more and more miners went west there was less gold to go around making it hard to break even or make money on the gold.
Also the newspaper of the east coast made it sound like there was much more gold there there actually was leading to more people to go west in hopes of finding gold
The prospectors were named 49ers after 1849 ( the main year of the Gold Rush)
Gold Finding Methods
From 1849-1851 many miners would pan for gold of use a rocker a rocker was wooden box where they would shovel sand into in and shake. All the sand would fall and the gold would stay in the box. After 1851 a lot of the surface gold was gone leaving olny big companies that would mine for it under the ground using explosives
Lastly after much of the easily obtainable California gold was harvest. Prospectors discovered a silver deposit in Nevada in 1859 many people then started to come hear to find silver this silver deposit was known as the Comstock Lode
Location of the silver deposit