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The Gold Rush: A Never Ending Pursuit

1574 words - 6 pages

In the mid-nineteenth century one single word had the power to pull men from homes and families: gold. After John Marshall found nuggets in a California stream in 1848, tens of thousands crossed continents and oceans in a scramble for wealth. A few years later Edward Hargraves's discovery of gold near Bathurst prompted a similar rush to the Australian colonies of New South Wales and Victoria.(Boisserry 11) Scenarios of lawlessness in the Californian and Australian goldfields became numerous. Men shot and murdered each other to secure their gold, as well as their positions. This was the first sign of trouble; their pursuit of gold was slowly causing them to loosen moral and lawful standards. Destructive effects came with the American dream men were chasing; wanting gold and high social status, which very few could ever achieve. Their pursuit of this dream didn't result in richness for most of the men; and although both gold rushes saw extraordinary movements of peoples and produced breathtaking stories of incredible fortunes made overnight, by the mid-1850s these goldfields began to run dry. Miners abandoned their posts and new prospectors stopped arriving. Then, in 1858, the gold rush in the valley of the Fraser river began. “Gold! There is gold on the Fraser!” the cry rang out across the harbour, through the streets of San Francisco and out to the dried out goldfields of California. (Neilson Bonikowsky) Many people packed up and headed North; even business people sold out and headed for British Columbia, hoping to get rich. This hope was similar to their hope of prosperity in gold in California and Australia, ironically, and both of those attempts didn't work out very well. However, the miners wanted to give it another try. Their greed was enough to fuel them. Even though the miners were unaware of where the gold was located, news of any gold strike “was enough to send hundreds of men into the wilderness to make their fortunes or die in the attempt,” as miner Thomas Seward wrote. (Neilson Bonikowsky) A sad, unfortunate cause this was; they were willing to sacrifice their lives and their families lives, in the pursuit of gold. This sacrifice lead to the miners' obstacles; which began with overcrowded ships, followed by rough accommodation, and dangerous travel. Not to mention the success in the gold-fields wasn't widespread; in fact, most were unsuccessful.
Becoming a miner in the Cariboo was not an easy task; BC's most famous gold rush to the remote, isolated Cariboo Mountains occurred between 1860, when prospectors drawn from the Fraser River Gold Rush discovered free gold on the Horsefly River, and 1863, when international publicity given to news of the rich payload found near bedrock at Barkerville in 1862 drew a large and diverse mix of miners, gold seekers and adventurers into the former fur-trading territory of the Chilcotin and Carrier. (History) Just travelling to the destination was a challenge; many miners came from San...

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