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Gold Rush
Major "Strikes" in the California Gold Rush

An astounding amount of gold was pulled from the ground during the California gold rush. In 1852 the take for the year was $80 million ($1.9 billion in 2005 dollars). This map shows some of the important mines of the gold rush.

Map of Major Gold Finds

  1. Sutter's Mill/Coloma | January 24, 1848
    James Marshall kicked off the California gold rush when he spotted some pea-sized bits of gold in a mill raceway. The news brought thousands of prospectors to the area, but neither Marshall nor his employer John Sutter prospered from the find.

  2. Mormon Island | February 1848
    Mormons working for John Sutter made their own gold find a few miles up the American River.

  3. Bidwell's Bar | July 4, 1848
    Another employee of Sutter, John Bidwell, made his own strike further north in an area that became known as Bidwell's Bar. The land was so rich with gold that one miner later built a three-story mansion with his profits and still had enough gold left to bury $100,000 ($2.4 million in 2005 dollars) of it for safekeeping.

  4. Weber's Creek | Summer 1848
    One claim in this area resulted in $17,000 worth of gold in a single week ($415,000 in 2005 dollars).

  5. Murphy's | 1848
    The Murphy brothers struck gold just a few days after arriving in the Sierras; by the end of the year, they had $1.5 million worth ($37 million in 2005 dollars).

  6. Mariposa | 1849
    John Fremont's property, at the southern edge of the gold fields, was immensely lucrative; his Mexican workers regularly sent him buckskin bags filled with 100 pounds of gold.

  7. Rich Bar | 1850
    Three German miners made an immense find in the extreme northern section of the gold fields: Rich Bar would produce some $23 million of gold ($561 million in 2005 dollars).

  8. Comstock Lode | 1859
    The discovery of silver on the other side of the Sierras in Nevada brought an end to the California gold rush; at its height, about $80 million (some $1.9 billion in 2005 dollars) had been pulled annually from the gold fields, but that figure had fallen by almost half when the Comstock Lode was discovered.

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Gold Rush American Experience

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