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Event Summary

On January 24, 1848 James Marshall and Peter L. Wimmer discovered gold at Sutter's new sawmill on the American River, setting in motion the California Gold Rush.



Miners in the Sierras, 1851
Miners in the Sierras, 1851


Sam Brannan printed a page in the California Star detailing the gold mines in the Sacramento valley attempting to encourage immigration.

News spread rapidly of the gold found in California. People came from as far as China. People were mining as much as $50,000 a day. Mexican migrants, Chilean migrants, Australian migrants, and foreigners from Mexico, Chile and even Australian came to seek their fortune in gold.

At this time, the population of California was estimated at 100,000 including 35,000 people who came by sea, 3000 sailors who deserted ships and 42,000 who came overland. There were some 40,000 people mining in California by the end of 1849.

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See The California Gold Rush from NC Digital History


Female_Rose.pngWomen of the Gold Rush

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  • The Gold Nugget, an interactive exhibit from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

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lessonplan.jpgClick here for lesson resources on the gold rush. Includes reading letters from people who took part in the gold rush.
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  • Click here for journal entries from John Sutter

  • For a view of the 25,000 people who came to the gold fields by water, see On The Water from the Smithsonian that uses the journals of Alexander Van Valen as key primary sources

Food of the California Gold Rush from PBS WGBY57

Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush, 1925
Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush, 1925

Alaska or Klondike Gold Rush

Alaska's Gold from the Alaska Department of Education

What Was the Klondike Gold Rush?