Miner with shovel; quarter-plate

Collection of the Oakland Museum of California


In 1848, a 35-year-old carpenter named James Marshall inspected the water course of a sawmill he was building on the American River in Northern California. Stooping to pick up flakes of a shiny metal, Marshall touched off a chain of events that would culminate in the greatest of all western gold rushes. Within a year, thousands of eager young adventurers would join the mad scramble for the "New El Dorado." Gold fever spread like wildfire, luring prospective miners from the Eastern United States ("the States" to those in California), Europe and Asia.

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