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The California Gold Rush is, forgive the pun, the gold standard of gold rushes in the United States. Indeed, California is known as the “Golden State” both because of its beautiful natural scenery, but also because of this gold rush that absolutely changed the face of American history in a short period of time. A great way to explain the changes is to compare California before the gold rush — a sparsely populated area inhabited mostly by Indians and Mexicans — to a state important enough that the first Republican Presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, hailed from the state.

It all began on January 24, 1848, when James W. Marshall, a sawmill entrepreneur, and carpenter, discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California in the northern central portion of the state. California was still technically a part of Mexico at this time, as the Mexican-American War was still underway, but it had been claimed by the United States since the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846. When all was said and done, 300,000 people had poured into the region and the population demographics of the territory — a state by 1850 — were changed forever. Tens of billions of dollars were extracted from the mines in the state, which helped the United States on its road to becoming an economic powerhouse.

Who Was James W. Marshall?

As is often the case with a gold rush, the California Gold Rush had very inauspicious beginnings. James Wilson Marshall didn’t own the land where he discovered the gold and thus joins the long list of people who came close to grabbing the golden ring but were unable to do so due to circumstances outside of their control. 

The land itself was owned by John Sutter, born Johann August Sutter, an immigrant from one of the many small states that made up the Holy Roman Empire. Marshall was examining a channel on the land when he noticed the shiny flecks that often meant there were large deposits of gold. For his part, Sutter was far more concerned with the completion of his sawmill than he was with panning for gold, so he simply allowed the workmen to hunt for gold on his land in their spare time.california gold rush

Ironically, the discovery of gold on his land led to Sutter’s economic ruination. Though he attempted to keep the find quiet, the discovery of land was exposed to a mass audience by newspaper publisher Samuel Brannan. When news of the gold spread throughout his crew, they all left the steady work of building a sawmill to hunt for gold. Eventually, the hordes of prospectors drove Sutter off of his own land. His son, John Augustus Sutter Jr., had no small success rebuilding the land, but the prospectors destroyed virtually everything of value that lay on the land. The elder Sutter eventually received a $250 monthly pension as reimbursement for his land. 

Marshall, too, was economically ruined by the army of squatters who destroyed crops and cattle as they went. However, he returned to business in Coloma in 1857, running a vineyard that saw some success in the 1860s before being ruined by higher taxes and increased competition. He then returned to prospecting, which was largely unsuccessful. He died broke in a cabin on August 10, 1885. A monument was eventually erected to him and visitors can still go see the cabin where he spent his final days. 

Going to California

It bears repeating that going from a “western” American city of the time, such as St. Louis, to California, was not anywhere near as easy as it is today. Indeed, there was not even rail transportation out to California at this time. And it was the California Gold Rush that changed all of that. 

Most of the 49’ers, in fact, didn’t even travel over the land. They got to California by sea. Remember that this was prior to the construction of the Panama Canal. The journey went all the way around Tierra del Fuego and took between four and five months. That was a total of 18,000 nautical miles (21,000 land miles or 33,000 kilometers). The other option was to go to the thinnest part of Panama, cross the jungle, and pick up another boat on the other side. Companies such as the U.S. Mail Steamship Company, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company (which enjoyed federal subsidies), and the Accessory Transit Company allowed for men who weren’t prospecting to make their fortunes off of the California Gold Rush.

Of course, some adventure and treasure seekers did use an overland route, with most utilizing the California Trail, a 3,000-mile trail that ran from the Missouri River to California. It was one of a series of so-called “pioneer trails” that were built by enterprising settlers on their way out west during the 19th Century. 

Supplies were likewise needed in California, but it was difficult to keep crews because men generally deserted to go hunt for gold in the fields. Some abandoned ships were converted into warehouses, taverns, hotels, and other structures, including at least one jail. But when all was said and done, it was the merchants who made out like bandits during the California Gold Rush, not the miners. 

Continue reading The California Gold Rush at KellycoDetectors.com.

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Nice article.  I looked at the linked page but couldn't find any references.  Any plan on remedying that?

The continuation of John Matuszak's article includes the following quote:  "It’s not a stretch to say that, without the California Gold Rush, there might not have been a massive move to California during the 19th Century. Indeed, to this day, California might remain a rural backwater more known for growing oranges and almonds than anything else if there were no gold there."  (emphasis mine)

The first sentence may not be a stretch.  However I'm sure there are many in the state as well as geographers and historians who would take exception to the second sentence.  California is far more than simply good farmland, independent of its (historic) gold wealth.  A better subject of speculation, IMO, asks what percentage of its current residents are even aware of those two traits.

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For a more accurate account of the discovery i would recommend *gold rush saints" https://books.google.com/books/about/Gold_Rush_Saints.html?id=6uq9Ay6Si-4C&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button

Which contains the first hand diaries of the mormons working at the mill during the discovery.

Of note; the mill was sited there as Marshall had a new theory that gold was related to quartz, and he chose the most likely spot to find gold. He also checked the race for gold each morning. It was no accident he found gold. The other accounts of the early days are highly illuminating

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According to the politicians from California there is still more gold to be found everywhere in the state.

They have called the population the new gold mines for taxes.

 

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Half the story here, the other half linked to over at a retailers website. 😉

Interesting read.

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11 hours ago, Valens Legacy said:

According to the politicians from California there is still more gold to be found everywhere in the state.

They have called the population the new gold mines for taxes.

 

Really? Hard to tax something you have outlawed. California politicians have made mining a thing of the past; no gold recovery with anything mechanical.

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18 minutes ago, Jim_Alaska said:

Really? Hard to tax something you have outlawed. California politicians have made mining a thing of the past; no gold recovery with anything mechanical.

JA; I will be digging and detecting with one of my excavators at the end of this month. Would you like to come help. The permitting process isn't easy but it can be done.

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KellycoDetectors,

I've seen this same post on another forum.  I hope when you post this information on each of the forums because you are seeking business it is not just a 'boiler plate' presentation.  You may find that you will be losing goodwill for your brand here if you do that.

Now, if you are someone who wants to interact with Steve's forum readers and get involved in the discussions you will build a following just as the many other dealers already here do.

Please consider this before you flood us with social media marketing strategy.  Some of us may object.

Mitchel

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12 hours ago, Jim_Alaska said:

Really?

Sorry if I confused you as I was trying to say that the citizens were their gold mine. They make so many taxes that the next logical step is to start taxing someone just for breathing.

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      In 1904 and 1905, gold was discovered on other parts of the beach which made for a sort of mini gold rush that boosted the main one and extended its life. However, none of these new strikes had nearly the same amount of promise as the original. Between 1900 and 1909, Nome was 20,000 strong but by 1909 the population had dropped to a meager 250.
      Gold mining still takes place in Nome and, indeed prospectors continue to show up looking to strike it rich in Alaska. We’re not sure how many people have struck gold in Nome, but we do know of at least three men who made an absolute killing: The Three Lucky Swedes.
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      The Three Lucky Swedes were indeed lucky. What else would you call three men who basically tripped over a king’s ransom in gold?
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      Lindeberg was one of these reindeer handlers. He was recruited in Norway and set sail for the states aboard the SS Manitoba on February 4, 1898.
      Erik Lindblom wasn’t a prospector, but he was from the iron and copper mining region of Sweden, which gave him a working knowledge of mining. He left Sweden at 17 and was involved in mining in Montana, Colorado, and Idaho before he found himself in Nome, Alaska. He became a naturalized citizen in 1894.
      Finally, there was John Brynteson. He came to the United States from Sweden at the age of 16 and worked in copper and iron mining in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He gained his American citizenship in 1896. He came to Alaska under the auspices of the Swedish Mission Covenant.
      These three men began hunting for gold together in mid-September 1898. They quickly happened upon what they knew was a major discovery. Together, they formed the Pioneer Mining and Ditch Company, which quickly became Nome’s biggest mining company.
      Brynteson left Alaska first and was the only one of the three to return to Sweden. Lindblom took his gold profits and invested it in several sectors, including banking, real estate, and transportation. He eventually became the president of the Swedish-American Bank of San Francisco. He personally financed the construction of the ice parks in Stockholm for the 1912 Olympiad. Lindeberg’s life was mostly uneventful after Nome, but while there he was part of a group of masked vigilantes who attacked claim jumpers in an attempt to retain his property.
      You can still visit the Camp Nome mining district, which is a historical tourist attraction in otherwise sleepy Nome. There aren’t even 4,000 people living in the Nome area these days, less than a quarter of what was there at the peak of the Nome Gold Rush. But for one shining instant, this little fishing village on the coast of Alaska became the hottest destination in the world for the most adventurous men alive.
      The Nome Gold Rush and Three Lucky Swedes originally appeared on Kellycodetectors.com.
    • By Joe D.
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          I got up to Treasure Coast for a couple of hunts, to break in my new/used Equinox! I haven't had one for a few months, but i got back into it in a hurry!
          The area is always full of detectorists for any rare erosion event, and this past week was no different! The blue erosion bags are a main indicator of the level of erosion present! Normally they are covered by up to several feet of sand! The orange sand is the original sand we look for, when looking for the old stuff! Last friday was the better of the two days i was there! I found a few pieces of lead, iron, copper, and modern coins! For a few lucky hunters, there were musket ball's and spent bullets! There were a few coin and artifact finds, but those were on various other beaches nearby!
          The highlight of this trip was recognizing, than meeting a local legend here; Terry Shannon, a super nice, very experienced detectorist, and author! He has a few very good books out on Amazon! He was my best "find" of the day!
          I also went Monday, but i caught the tide incoming, and just got beat up by the big waves, with very few targets! But i will keep going there, whenever i get the chance, to finally find some of the elusive and rare Spanish items!👍👍







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