The Gold Rush of 1849


Jack London writes of the Gold Rush in Call of the Wild. It was a crazy time when men rushed to the Yukon to pan for gold. Men also traveled to the California areas to find mine and try to find gold. Some men did well in finding gold while others sold firewood, cooked, constructed buildings, or ran mining camps. London actually never panned for gold as he contracted scurvy and spent his time in the Yukon healing. The California Gold Rush was just as amazing as the movement to the Yukon area.

In January of 1848, James Wilson Marshall found gold while he was building a small saw mill at the edge of the American River. The river runs northeast of Sacramento, California. History states that a storekeeper from the Sutter Creek area, Sam Brannan, ran around yelling about the discovery of gold and then the gold rush began. People flooded into the area seeking to make money.

People traveled west to California and the search began. Men traveled thousands and thousands of miles by foot and wagon across the Plains to seek their fortune. The San Francisco area soared from around 14,000 to over a population of 100,000. The population eventually maxed out at over 250,000. Buildings were quickly constructed and claims to areas were sold. The late part of 1849 was the busiest with everyone coming for his or her fortune.

The Klamath Mountains of northwest California produced the current day equivalent of over 26 million dollars through gold mining. Gold was mined in that area well up into the late 1950s. Several reconstruction and replica mines and mining towns now exist in the Sacramento, California area for tourists and historians. Stonewall Mine is one that can be toured today to provide an idea of what life was like during the California Gold Rush of 1849.

During the California Gold Rush of 1849, some men made their fortune in gold, some men lost their fortune, many men traveled miles and miles, some men died on the way, some men died when they got there, and some like Jack London got too sick to actually mine for gold. The Gold Rush of 1849 was a historical event in which populations shifted locales in days in order to find a fortune and make a new life. They all followed the cries of Sam Brannan.



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