Gold was discovered in a river, northeast of Sacremento, in January of 1848. In 1852, the gold rush peaked, as up to $80 million worth of this shiny precious metal was mined.
Listed below are ten of interesting facts about the gold rush…
- In all of American history, this was one of the largest migrations. Only about 1,000 non-native Americans lived in California in early 1848. However, in a short time of only two years, there were approximately 100,000 men, coming from around 31 states and at least 25 different countries. Newspapers at the time were filled with reports of this ‘rich in gold’ land.
- Around $1.5 million worth of gold was mined by the two brothers, John and Daniel Murphy, in a single year. This $1.5 million is worth around $40 million today, and the town of Murphys in California was named after them. Another miner found around $17,000 in a single week, however, most of the miners were nowhere near that lucky.
- An omelette cooked in bacon fat, which was topped with fried oysters, was an unusual delicacy that emerged from the gold rush. It is believed that one lucky miner ordered this when he stumbled into an eatery and realised, he could order anything from the menu. This dish can still be found at some restaurants in San Francisco.
- You would think that the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco was named after the gold rush. However, the strait was coincidentally named this just two years before the gold rush.
- Massive sequoia trees which were located in the forests of California were transported to major cities to show proof that they existed since photography had not been developed at that time.
- After traveling to California and coming back empty-handed, an English gold prospector discovered five specks of gold in New South Wales’ Lewis Pond Creek and started the Australian gold rush.
- California was the only place that women earned more than men for equal work, during the gold rush. It is believed that men would pay women to work alongside them for their company, or to do household chores that were deemed as ‘women’s work’. One woman had reported having made $18,000 just baking pies!
- Although James Marshall was credited with the first discovery of gold in Sutton’s Mill, he never profited from it.
- While some ’49ers arrived at California in wagons, others came in ships. However, these ships were abandoned by the crew for the gold hunt. These boats were repurposed as either hotels or shops or torn apart for lumber. As recently as 2001, construction projects have revealed remains of ships underground.
- With thousands and thousands of miners flooding the frontier, businesses prospered as they had to entertain, supply and feed the prospectors. In 1850, a tailor who visited San Francisco had intended to sell wagon covers and tents. However, he decided to make sturdy pants for miners instead. It was made with durable material that he had brought with him, and Levi’s jeans are still going strong today!
Do you know any fun facts about the gold rush? Share them in the comments below!