The California Gold Rush and the “Forty-Niners”

The California Gold Rush was a historic event and one of the biggest gold rushes in history. The thinly populated towns in California eventually became densely populated, and everybody saw opportunity. The people who made the most money off the California Gold Rush were not the miners, they were in fact the merchants and traders who had lived there before the gold rush. They were the ones who saw the new demand for mining equipment and started to raise the prices in their stores and started making much more money than before. The richest being Sam Brannan, who made his fortune off his store, he was the first millionaire in the California Gold Rush. The American government profited a lot from the gold rush as well, they profited by buying some of the gold from the settlers and building up their supply of it.

The California gold rush lasted for seven years, from 1848 to 1855. The California gold rush all started in 1848 when James W. Marshall reported finding gold in Coloma, California. 300,000 people eventually flocked to this abandoned ex-Mexican territory, hoping to strike rich and make a fortune. The people finding opportunity in the gold rush were called “forty-niners”, named after the peak of the gold rush in 1849. It was harder for the forty-niners to settle at first, when the towns close the gold rush were not yet populated. These people travelled for many days and many nights and many miles, they had to travel through the California trail in order to get to the place where the gold was. The California trail was a very tuff and hard trail to go on. The forty-niners often faced many hardships on the trail, including accident, exhaustion and disease.

These problems they faced on the road didn’t stop the settlers though! By 1850, the Californian population was over 90,000; by 1852 though, the Californian population had reached over 250,000. Most of these people were Americans, but a piece of the population also came from Latin America, Australia and China. Some of these people travelled thousands of miles just to risk their lives walking another couple hundred get to California. These outsiders had to pay taxes in the U.S, another benefit for the United States government.

The billions worth of gold in concentrated gold in California was caused by tectonic activity, volcanic eruptions and erosion. These three things were the reason so much gold was found. The gold eventually ran out though, in 1855, when people and settlers stopped travelling. Even after the gold rush, the forty-niners still was opportunity in California. Most of the settlers in California stayed where they were though as the population ticked and the forty-niners started getting jobs and starting shops and businesses in their new home.

California is now a vastly populated area, thanks to the miners. They turned the thinly populated rural town into what it is today. The gold rush provided the people and resources that would turn parts of California into vast urban cities. The rest of California leaves evidence of the settlers though, and what they left behind.

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