Known as the Golden State

Gold is California’s official state mineral, so designated in 1965.  The gold discovery in January 1848 rapidly transformed a pastoral landscape with less than 10,000 Mexican citizens into a societal melting pot, as prospectors came from all over the world to seek their fortunes. Between 1850 and 1859, miners extracted Continue reading Known as the Golden State

171 Years Today

Today marks the 171st anniversary of the gold discovery in California. The discoverer was a carpenter named James Wilson Marshall, who was building a sawmill on the South Fork of the American River for his employer, John Sutter. The pair tried to keep the discovery a secret until the mill was finished—but word soon got out. The California Gold Rush, which drew thousands from all over the globe and energized the world’s economy, effectively began in May 1848.

Sacrificed to Gold

Jared Dixon Sheldon, a Vermont native and carpenter by trade, is thought to have arrived in California, then a province of Mexico, in 1839. When authorities at Monterey, the capital, hired him to build a customhouse for them, he asked for payment in the form of a future land grant at such time as he found land he wanted.   Continue reading Sacrificed to Gold

A Gold Miner’s New Year

During the early Gold Rush years, the fever to find riches was too hot for most gold miners to take time out to relax and celebrate New Year’s Day, although some of them did spend a few hours visiting friends in other camps. If their claims were below the snow line, many just fired their pistols in tribute and went on prospecting.

Gold Near the Surface

“Placer” is the name given to gold (and other minerals) found in alluvial deposits of sand and gravel in modern or ancient stream beds that are near the surface when found. During the California Gold Rush, prospectors used shallow metal pans or water-tight Indian baskets with sloping sides to mine placer gold. After filling Continue reading Gold Near the Surface