Gold Rush miners at Auburn Ravine, 1852
THE GOLD RUSH THAT CHANGED CALIFORNIA,
THE NATION & THE WORLD
After word leaked out about James Marshall’s gold discovery in the American River at Coloma on Jan. 24, 1848, people & the media fanned the “flames of interest and greed,” creating a worldwide drive to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Thousands came to claim their share of what reports said was a seemingly unlimited supply of gold in the stream beds and mountains of a wild, ungoverned region in Northern California.
Marshall’s accidental find led to the greatest peacetime mass migration in history, an unparalleled gathering of multiple ethnic groups. Between 1848-1853, nearly 300,000 emigrants, mainly male, rushed anyway they could—by covered wagon, horse, ship or walking—to what became “The Golden State of California.” Many of these enthusiastic folks, were forever called, “Forty-niners” (1849).
Because of this almost unimaginable migration, the rush for riches became a disastrous time for many Native Americans, Spanish/Mexican landowners and the environment, damaged by hydraulicking as gigantic, pressurized hoses washed away mountainsides, polluted streams, killed fish, clogged rivers and ruined farmlands. But the
Gold Rush also had its positives and was an incredible drama, whose final act has yet to be completed.
Most of the eager individuals, who came here to “strike it rich” (by digging up the
gold) planned on getting their fortune, then returning home. Most didn’t become wealthy from mining but ended up staying, helping create a remarkable culture that’s still evolving today.
The first waves of miners often were the most successful when there was abundant
gold for the taking. But after thousands upon thousands of others arrived for their share, it became increasingly harder to find, leading to friction between miners and cultures. Violence erupted as prospectors’ dreams became shattered.
Some who were unsuccessful used their entrepreneurial survival instincts, returning to previous occupations or creating a new one by filling a need and “made their pile” as farmers, storekeepers, butchers, bakers, clothiers, bankers and lawmen.
Historian John Caughey said the gold
Rush “set California in motion on the course that made her what she is today and it did things that would not have been done for a generation or perhaps at all.”
The gold Rush in the Sierra created the dynamic spirit still thriving today—a Spirit of Optimism, Independence, Creativity, Taking Chances, Adapting to Change, Bouncing Back from Failure and Making the Impossible, Possible.
With the spectacular artwork of renown
painter Bill Anderson and these original stories, we present some of the
colorful happenings in the gold Rush—its people, life & times.
Pulitzer Prize Nominee & Author of 20 books
Gold Rush Glimpses III, part of a
popular series of books from author Craig MacDonald, has
been featured in numerous media outlets.
For information on
hiring Craig MacDonald to speak to your group,
contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.