In 1848, a man named James Marshall found small gold nuggets in San Francisco. His discovery sparked the gold rush era, where thousands of people migrated to California in the hopes of finding gold and immensely improving their lives.
James Marshall’s discovery of gold was purely accidental. He was camped out with his crew by the American River at Coloma where they were working on a saw mill for John Sutter. One morning, James Marshall found small gold nuggets in the river. The discovery of gold by the river spread like wildfire and soon, plenty of people gathered around the area where the first gold nuggets were found to try their luck. Apart from the locals hearing about the existence of gold, there were also people from far away who heard about the news since periodicals also printed about James Marshall’s discovery.
Soon after, the San Francisco harbor was filled with abandoned ships from different places, as the crew too had been enticed by the possibility of getting their hands on gold. Even the workers from nearby establishments abandoned their posts and tried their luck on finding gold. Of course, not all of the people who migrated to California were successful in finding what they were looking for. Many people returned to their lands having only having a little more that they came with and not an abundance of wealth like they expected.
In California, the Gold Rush increased the population in San Francisco from about 200 to over 36,000. This did not just happen in the United States. There were also gold rush periods in Brazil, Canada and Australia among others. The gold rush did not stop in the 19th century. Until today, there are still some locations where gold can be mined in vast amounts.
Here are some images of the Gold Rush in various locations: