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California Gold Rush 1849. Alex Donatell i. Discovery of Gold. James Marshall= Discovery of Gold near Sutter’s Mill on January 24, 1848.

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California gold rush 1849

California Gold Rush 1849

Alex Donatelli

Discovery of gold

Discovery of Gold

  • James Marshall= Discovery of Gold near Sutter’s Mill on January 24, 1848.

“ My eye caught with the glimpse of something shining in the bottom of the ditch…. I reached my hand down and picked it up; it made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold. The piece was about half the size of and of the shape of a pea.”

- James Marshall

California gold rush 1849

  • Marshall, after his discovery, ran and told the owner of the mill, John Sutter, about the gold. They both agreed to keep the discovery a secret.

The spread of discovery

The Spread of Discovery

The following day……….

Sutter and Marshall go back to the work site. They met a Spanish

speaking Indian worker holding a gold nugget and shouting,

“Oro [gold]!” Several times.

Many of Sutter’s workers began to quit to search

for gold.

The spread of discovery1

The Spread of Discovery

  • To add to the excitement of the discovery of gold, President Polk confirmed gold in California in his farewell message to Congress in December 1848.

Many people moved west.

Forty niners


  • Gold Rush caused a huge surge in population. 100,000 gold seekers(Forty-niners) came to California.

  • 80 percent of the forty-niners were American, other 20 percent came from all around the world. 5 percent of the immigrants were women and children. Miners were usually young, unmarried men.

Journey to california

Journey to California

  • Most were long and extremely dangerous.

  • Easterners used two main routes:

    1. Boat down the Atlantic ocean around tip of South America

    and back up through the Pacific ocean.

    2. The second route would cut through Panama

    or Nicaragua to the Pacific. Combined land

    and sea travel.

The first route was much slower but was more safe. Usually took 6-8 months.

The second would be much shorter but more dangerous. Immigrants had a higher chance of contracting deadly diseases such as malaria or yellow fever.

San francisco

San Francisco

  • As a result, San Francisco grew more rapidly than any other city in the world. Going from a population of 800 in March 1848 to 25,000 by 1850.

Value of gold

Value of Gold

  • California gold value went from 10 million dollars in 1848 to 40 million dollars in 1849 to 65 million dollars in 1853, the height of the gold rush. Miners found more than 270 million dollars of gold between 1848-1853.

Life in the mining towns

Life in the Mining Towns

  • Places were enough people settled into one area to look for gold.

  • Also called Skunk Gulch, Hangtown, Git-Up-and-Git, and Dry Diggings.

  • These towns had little law and order. Theft and miscommunication was a common problem with a tiny presence of authorities.

  • Settlers that didn’t find gold often made money by selling goods or cooking meals for the miners. Miners would pay large amounts of money for food. A loaf of bread in the East would cost about 5-10 cents; in the West it would cost about 50-75 cents.

Mining towns

Mining Towns



Many immigrants were faced with hardships, especially the Chinese.

California placed a high-monthly tax on all immigrants to stay in California. Chinese immigrants were not allowed to become U.S. citizens.

Some immigrants, despite of harsh treatment, decided to say to find different jobs. One such immigrant was Levi Strauss.

He became successful by making a durable denim work pants to sell to miners.

California gold rush 1849


  • Who discovered the first piece of gold near Sutter’s Mill?

James Marshall

2. What city due to the gold rush, grew in population and became a major economic port-city?

San Francisco

3. What’s another name for a gold-seeker?

A Forty-niner

4. Who was the German immigrant who made money buy selling miners a durable denim pants?

Levi Strauss

California gold rush 1849

FAST FACT:Approximately only 1 out of 20 miners returned home with more money than they started with.

California gold rush 1849


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