The California Gold Rush Essay

1502 words - 6 pages

The definition of a gold rush is simply a fast movement of people to a place where gold has been discovered. The California Gold Rush was one of the most significant events to ever happen in California. The Gold Rush brought people from all over the world to California in search for gold. These people were often known as the 49ers. The California Gold Rush was much more than just people trying to become rich off of gold; it was actually a major turning point in United States history. Although the gold rush only lasted a decade, it played a very important role int he economic development of the west. (Morrissett 256) The first piece of gold discovered in California was by Fanciso Lopez about 30 miles northwest from Los Angeles on March 9, 1842. This, however, did not start the gold rush.Only the locals began to look for gold, but it wasn't an international event. (Lloyd 31) The California Gold Rush truely began on January 24,1848, when James Marshall found a piece of gold at Sutter's Mill. John Sutter, owner of Sutter's Fort in Coloma, California, wanted to keep the gold a secret, but Jon Bidwell found out and sent his ment and 50 indians to Feather Lake. John Bidwell's men ended up collecting $70,000 in gold in just seven weeks. After President James Polk found out about Bidwell's collection of gold, he confirmed that there was gold in California, and he started to spread the news. (Lloyd 20) Most prospectors were previously storekeepers, cooks, carpenters, teachers, farmers, or were in another type of trade before they left to go to California. Immigrants started businesses, trading post, and importing goods to sell to the miners, farmers, and rachers. Gold started to become harder and harder to find by the mid-1850s. More pople were making more money selling mining supplies than the miners were themselves. Once word got out that there was silver in Nevada, the gold rush in California was over. ("Rush For Gold" 1) The trip to California usually cost more than the miners actually found in gold. There were three ways to travel to California. You could travel by foot, wagon, or ship. Many of the locals traveled to the mining sites by foot. Traveling by foot allowed them to save money because they didn't have to pay to ride on a ship or the money they would have to use by riding on a wagon.A great amount of people travelled on a covered wagon. Much of the territory they had to travel over consist of many mountains and deserts. Travellers had to time their trips perfectly because they wouldn't want to be in the Sierra Mountains during the winter. Alothough the trip by land had its hardships, it also had may advantages too. Traveling by land allowed you to pack more supplies like cooking stove, plates and cups, and forks and knives. Foods like bacon, ham, rice, dried fruit, bread, flour, sugar, molasses, butter, coffee, and tea were packed in the wagon. They would usually carry enough of these foods to last them six months. Another advantage was that...

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