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California

The American River was named by John Sutter in 1839 when he selected the point at which it flows into the Sacramento River as the site for his headquarters, Fort Sutter, at the center of the vast landholdings he called Nueva Helvetica, after his homeland. In 1848, gold was discovered on the South Fork of the American River at Sutter's Mill, near Coloma, bringing a rush of fortune seekers from around the world, who would destroy Sutter's estate and drive him to ruin.

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