California Gold Rush:
In January of 1848, James Marshall had a work crew camped
on the American River at Coloma near Sacramento. The crew was
building a saw mill for John Sutter. On the cold, clear morning
of January 24, Marshall found a few tiny gold nuggets. Thus began
one of the largest human migrations in history as a half-million
people from around the world descended upon California in search
of instant wealth.
The first printed notice of the discovery was in the
March 15 issue of "The Californian" in San Francisco. Shortly
after Marshall's discovery, General John Bidwell discovered gold
in the Feather River and Major Pearson B. Reading found gold in
the Trinity River. The Gold Rush was soon in full sway.
In 1849, quartz mining began at the Mariposa mine in
Mariposa County. Gold deposits were often found inside quartz
veins. In 1850, California became a state. Also that year,
gold-bearing quartz was found at Gold Hill in Grass Valley. This
led to the development of the great underground mines in that
district and a major industry the continued for more than 100
In 1851, Gold was discovered in Greenhorn Creek, Kern
County. This discovery led to the rush to the upper Kern River
region. By 1852, California's annual gold production reach a
then all-time high of $81 million.
Other important Gold Rush dates and discoveries:
1852, hydraulic mining began at American Hill just north of
Nevada City and a Yankee Jims in Placer County.
1853, the first extensive underground mining of buried river
channels commenced in the Forest Hill District, Placer County.
Also in 1853, the placers at Columbia, Tuolomne County,
began to yield vast amounts of gold. This continued until the
early 1860s. At that time, Columbia was one of the largest
cities in the state.
A partial exodus of miners took
place in 1853 when gold was discovered on the Fraser River in
In 1854, a 195-pound mass of gold,
the largest known to have been discovered in California, was
found at Carson Hill in Calaveras County.
the rich surface placers were largely exhausted, and river mining
accounted for much of the state's output until the early
In 1859, the famous 54-pound Willard nugget
was found at Magalia in Butte County.
By 1864, California's gold rush had ended. The rich
surface and river placers were largely exhausted; hydraulic mines
were the chief sources of gold for the next 20 years.
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