Men in the Gold Rush

Westward Expansion

The Gold Rush

On January 24th, 1848, a man named James Wilson Marshall, arguably made the biggest discovery in the 1800's. While at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Coloma, California, Marshall, originally from New Jersey, spotted gold flakes in the American River. This sighting lead to the famous Gold Rush. Marshall, a carpenter, was working to build a water-powered saw mill, owned by John Sutter. John Sutter, born in Germany, citizen of Switzerland, lived very close to a pool of riches.

Where did they look for gold?

As previously stated the gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in the Sierra Nevada. These mountains were the main area of discovery and searching during the Gold Rush. The most productive areas were in the northern and central areas of the Sierra Nevada. Another site of major discovery was in the Klamath Mountains. The gold was found in the streams that ran through the mountain.

How did this effect the westward expansion?

As you can imagine, when people caught wind of the amount of gold in California, many people, especially men, began their journey west to the city of gold. Everyone began mining in search for their own piece, or pieces, of gold. Many, especially those in need of money, made the trek out west. Even those with riches sent people for money so you can imagine how many men where in the search for gold. The Gold Rush was the largest mass migration in U.S. history.

Men in San Fransisco

After news spread that there were large quantities of gold found at Sutter's Mill, almost 3/4 of the male population in San Francisco had began mining for gold. In August a mere 4,000 men had began mining for gold. The news began to spread and soon there were people from all around the country that were coming to California in search for there own fortune even if it was a small one.

Men in the Gold Rush

The Gold Rush was a male dominated event. Ninety-two percent of the people digging for gold were men. Many men were looking for a way to support their families and get rich. Many men were also just very greedy. The women that did make the trek to California primarily worked in restaurants, saloons, and hotels. Even at the end of the Gold Rush in 1860 they were roughly only 10,000 women in the areas of gold.