When John Marshall discovered gold on the American River in 1848, he tried to keep it a secret. California was still a territory with a population of about 157,000 and he knew if word got out about the discovery of gold, it would change everything.
The secret proved impossible to keep and “gold fever” started the biggest migration in U.S. history. Just a few years later more than 300,000 people moved to California with hopes of striking it rich, fast-tracking the territory to statehood. Take a look at the maps, letters and images from this remarkable time.
Most of miners were American, but news of the discovery spread around the world. People came from Europe, Australia, China and Latin America, creating one of the first multi-ethnic workforces in the world. Experience the Gold Rush from a variety of perspectives with this game.
Though miners discovered more than 750,000 pounds of gold between 1848 and 1853, more business entrepreneurs than miners struck it rich!
For more information on the California Gold Rush, just ask a librarian!