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The California Gold Rush
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The California Gold Rush

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  • 1. THE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH Another reason for White settlers in the USA to move West
  • 2. GOLD!!
    • In January 1848 a group of men building a sawmill in the Sierra foothills discovered gold
    • The men finished the sawmill and started to mine for gold
  • 3. WORD SPREADS
    • San Francisco was the first place to hear of the discovery
    • Word was spread elsewhere by word of mouth, newspapers and guidebooks
    • Thousands travelled to make their fortune
  • 4. THOUSANDS MADE THE JOURNEY
    • People travelled from all over America
    • Some came by boat from New York or Boston
    • Others came overland in wagons
    • All had a hard journey
  • 5. THE IMPACT OF ‘GOLD FEVER’
    • “Overnight carpenters dropped their hammers, masons their trowels, bakers their loaves, clerks their pens, to rush to the diggings. Schools were closed as both teachers and pupils deserted; shopkeepers hung signs on their doors – ‘Gone to the Diggings’ – and disappeared. By June 15 San Francisco was a ghost town.”
  • 6. BUT…
    • By the time most people arrived the best of the gold had gone
    • Most worked for whole day, doing back-breaking work for less than $5 a day
    • Many didn’t even arrive – 5,000 died on the journey – many from cholera
  • 7. HOW DID THEY GET THE GOLD?
    • Many didn’t have a clue about mining
    • People scraped gold from the stream beds with spoons or knives
    • Others ‘panned’ for gold in wet streams – the gold’s weight keeping it in the pan
  • 8. LIFE IN THE MINING TOWNS
    • Shacks made from blankets and wooden frames
    • Disease was common
    • Hours were long, work was hard
    • Saloons, gambling and prostitution offered solace for some…
  • 9. THE ‘FORTY-NINERS’
  • 10. THE END?
    • By 1852 the surface gold had gone
    • Many miners returned home
    • Those who stayed began to set up permanent towns
    • Big business began to move in
    • Families arrived
  • 11. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
    • “Where these communities survived, the railroad, the telegraph and the stage-coach followed. In this way the discovery of gold made an important contribution to the settling of the West.”