There's Gold In Them Hills!

By | January 18, 2019

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'Gold Mining in California', 1849 (1871). Artist: Currier and Ives. Scenes of the 1849 Californian Gold Rush showing cradling, panning, washing with a 'long tom' and hydraulic mining. Source: (


In the mid-1800s, California was still part of Mexico. Most of the people who lived there were Mexican or Spanish. There were a few others who settled there, one of them, a Swiss, Captain John Sutter. He was granted an estate by the Mexican government. Sutter built a fort and it became a stopping place for those traveling to California. He also built a sawmill to provide lumber for a growing community. During the construction of the mill, a man named James Marshall was checking an issue with a part and saw something shiny at the bottom of a ditch. It was a gold nugget! Captain Sutter tried to keep it a secret in order to get as much gold as he could, but it didn’t stay secret for long!

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Advertisement for passage to California. Source: (

The Rush to California!

Gold Rushers coming from the east had a choice to make. They could either book passage on a ship that sailed around Cape Horn or try the arduous journey through the mountains. In 1848, there were already over 4,000 miners in California. Within a year, this number grew to 80,000. The gold seekers were called ‘Forty-Niners’. In just another three years, the “Forty-Niners” increased to nearly 250,000!