Gold Rush

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  • Gold in California
  • Staking a Claim
  • Life in Mining Camps
  • It all began in January 1848. Sutter found gold while working on what became Sutter's Mill. James Marshall and Sutter decided to keep this discovery a secret. Soon after a Native American worker discovered a gold nugget and word spread throughout the United States. Gold Fever began in 1849 and 80,000 miners came to California searching for gold.
  • Immigrants to California
  • Forty-niners prospected for gold in shallow waters. These miners used a rule similar to "first get, first serve," by "staking a claim." This means the first miner who got there marked their territory. Methods of finding gold consisted of placer mining, which is using a pan to sift through all the gravel to find the gold. In 1853, California's gold peaked at $60 million and also miner's success stories sparked other miners.
  • Population Boom
  • Most miners that came to California were unmarried. Very few came with their family, but if they did come, wives usually worked in the kitchen and watched over the children. Also, necessities in California were extremely more expensive than on the East Coast; for example, a loaf of bread would usually cost 5 cents, but it cost almost 50 to 70 cents.
  • Economic Growth
  • This mining of gold attracted miners from not only the United States but also from around the world; for example, men from China, Europe, Mexico, and South America. About 24,000 Chinese and 20,000 other foreigners came to the U.S. Americans put a high monthly tax foreigners had to pay if they wanted to prospect for gold. Obviously, they had no choice but to pay if they wanted the chance to become rich.
  • This Gold Rush ignited a large population boom. This qualified California for statehood after two years. in 1850, California became a state.
  • Along with a rapid population growth, new businesses and industries began. People found ways to make a living without gold mining; for example, farming became a large part of the economy. California was also isolated from the rest of the country. People had to go through lots of trouble to arrive in California, so in 1869 the transcontinental railroad was built for easier access.
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