California Gold Rush

By: Madeleine NeSmith


The California Gold Rush had began January 24, 1848. It started when James W. Marshall found a gold nugget in the American River a while he was making a sawmill for John Sutter, who was a Sacramento agriculturalist. After Marshall's discovery, he brought thousands of people and immigrants to California form all over the United States.

The rush for gold

By 1849, people caught "Gold Fever" and people from all over the United States and the World made their way to California hoping to strike it rich. Many travelers thought they'd find lots and lots of gold, but they riverbanks crowded with miners. Travelers and immigrants were going to try and get some gold to take with them home.

A long journey

Many people that traveled to California traveled by covered wagons. It was a hard journey through tough lands like desserts and mountains. They had mules or oxen to move their wagon. It was important that travelers left early so they didn't get stuck through the Sierra Mountains during the winter. Travelers became aware of a horrible fate of the Donner party in 1846.

Searching for Gold

In earlier days, gold was easier to find. You needed a shovel, knife, and a pan. In 1848 and 1849, it wasn't unusual for a miner to dig up $2,000 of gold a day. An average miner would have been lucky to find $10 per day. Some got rich and some were lucky if they made enough to eat. After 1852, lots of surface gold was mined.Panning for gold could no longer be profitable.

Laws and also orders

As it reached about the 1850's, the gold rush had become less popular and there were less people searching for gold. California had not been a state yet, so there were no laws at all. Once someone found gold, they'd be surrounded by other prospectors. People agreed claim laws had to be set. Camps set up claim officers to help patrol mines and to also settle disputes.


Before the California Gold Rush, California's population was about 2,000 non-natives. Later in 1849, there were about 15,000 people. In the 1850's, there were about 20,000 people in California. In 1853 there were over 30,000 people living in California. Before the gold rush finally started, many people wanted to travel to California, but after, people decided to leave. The California Gold Rush made a huge increase in the California population.


The California Gold Rush was a huge event that no one wanted to miss. All travelers hoped to strike it rich, but they hadn't completed their goal. California's population grew bigger as more people were welcomed into California. For some travelers, it seemed like the long journey just to reach California was for nothing. The California Gold Rush is an important thing in the United State's history.