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The California gold rush

Posted in Anniversary, Geography, Travel on Wednesday, 24 November 2010

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A prospector rushes into the village of San Francisco with the news of gold. Illustration by Roger Payne

On 5 December 1848, American President James K. Polk confirmed in a message to the U.S. Congress that gold had been found in California. Gold had been discovered the previous January but the bulk of those seeking gold arrived after Polk’s announcement. 90,000 ‘forty-niners’ (after 1849) rushed to California. Ships arriving at San Francisco Harbor were often abandoned by their crews and it is estimated that, by 1855, over 300,000 people had immigrated to California, many from abroad.

By then ‘panning’ in rivers was unlikely to result in riches and the money was made by groups who combined forces to create gold mining companies to engage in hydraulic mining, dredging and ‘hard-rock’ mining.

Many more pictures relating to the history of the United States of America can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

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