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California Gold Rush, 1848-1864

Gold Fever

Routes to the Mines

The Diggings

Mining Techniques

Law and Order

Minorities During the Gold Rush

Impact of the Gold Rush

Gold Rush Bibliography

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California Chronologies

Significant Dates in California Gold Mining History:
  • 1755-1848
  • 1849-1864
  • 1865-1968

    The Museum of the City of San Franciso
    San Francisco Gold Rush Chronology
  • While California wasn't the only place to have a "gold rush," the sheer number of people who became part of the mass migration, and the huge amount of gold removed from the state's rivers, soil, and mountains make the event unique.

    It has been estimated that more than 300,000 people came to California between the years 1848 and 1854. Many came and left in a relatively short time; others stayed a while longer, and still others remained permanently. The State's population at the time of the 1850 census was nearing 100,000 and, ten years later, the population reached 380,000. By 1880, California boasted a population of 560,247. By the end of the 19th century, more than 1.2 million people called the Golden State "home." So, while the rush to the gold fields may have lasted fewer than twenty years, the influx of people continues even today.

    While the number of people coming to California continued to grow, the amount of gold extracted reached its peak in the mid-1850s. From 1848 to 1859, miners removed an estimated 28.4 million troy ounces* of gold. During the first five years of the 1860s, gold production had dropped drastically to only 8.3 million troy ounces. At today's market value, that's more than $10 BILLION. While that may seem like a lot, consider the fact that the total value of California's 1990 agricultural output was $19.2 billion. Nonetheless, the Gold Rush changed the face of California and catalyzed the development of the state.

    *troy ounce: One-twelfth of a pound of 5,760 grains (troy pound), or 480 grains. A troy ounce equals 20 pennyweights, 1.09714 avoirdupois oz, or 31.1035 g. It is used in all assay returns for gold, silver, and platinum-group metals.

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