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0801Gold Rush.jpgJames W. Marshall was merely hired to build a sawmill for John Sutter along the American River at what is now Coloma, CA, but when he found small pieces of gold in the mill's tailrace on this day 160 years ago it touched off a rush for riches.

More than 100,000 people moved to California in the following years—so many that it entered the Union on Sept. 9, 1850 with the nickname "The Golden State." Very few made their riches through gold, but some found success in other ways, including Levi Strauss (jeans), James McClatchy (newspapers and publishing), and Leland Stanford (railroad tycoon and founder of Stanford Univ.).

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco has a chronology of the gold rush and accounts by Marshall, Sutter, and several "Argonauts of 49" (49ers for short).

The California State Library has posted some of their manuscripts pertaining to the gold rush in an online exhibit of ephemera, including some by Marshall and Sutter.

The Gold Rush (Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco)
California As We Saw It (California State Library)
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

"Gum Shan Meets El Dorado" Quarter plate daguerreotype by J. B. Starkweather (c. 1852)


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