Working sluice

1846-1851 California

  • California is still part of Mexico

    California is a sparsely populated Mexican province, home to about 7,000 Californios (Mexican citizens), 150,000 Indians, and 900 foreigners (mostly Americans).
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  • The sailing ship Brooklyn carrying 246 Mormon settlers arrives in San Francisco.

    San Francisco at that time is a tiny Mexican village known as Yerba Buena.
  • Mormon leader Samuel Brannan opens a general store at Sutter's Fort

    Samuel BrannanSutter's Fort was located near modern day Sacramento.
  • Gold is discovered!!

    A narrative by John SutterJames W. Marshall, a foreman building a lumber mill for pioneer landholder John Sutter, discovers gold in the Americdan River east of Sacramento.
  • California becomes a United States territory.

    California officially becomes United States territory with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ends the Mexican-American War by transferring nearly half of Mexico's lands to the United States.
  • First newspaper report of gold in the Sierra

    The Californian newspaper in San Francisco reports for the first time on the gold discovery in the Sierra, but most San Franciscans remain skeptical of the report.
  • Gold news spreads East.

    San Francisco's California Star newspaper prints a six page special edition for distribution in the eastern states about immensely rich gold mines in California.
  • Gold announced, almost all men run for the gold fields.

    Mining PicturesSamuel Brabbab runs through the streets of the city, waving a quinine bottle full of gold while shouting "Gold, gold, gold from the American River!!" Virtually the entire male population of San Francisco leaves the city in a rush to the gold fields.
  • Samuel Brannan's store booms.

    In the first six weeks following the arrival of gold fever in San Francisco, Samuel Brannan earns $36,000 ($750,000 equivalent in today's market) in profits from his general store, outfitting miners with picks, pans, and shovels.
  • More than half of miners are Indians.

    More than half of the miners in the gold fields in the first months of the Gold Rush are Indians, often brutally exploited by whites.
  • New York Herald reports gold.

    The New York Herald becomes the first major eastern newspaper to tout the discovery of gold in California.
  • First gold ship sails from San Francisco.

    The first gold ship, carrying $500,000 worth of gold sails from San Francisco bound for the United States Mint.
  • More than 30,000 Gold Rushers gather in Missouri.

    Virtual tourThey were waiting for the prairie to harden enough to allow overland travel by wagon to California.
  • Gold Rushers Arrive by ship.

    The first American Gold Rushers to sail for California via Cape Horn arrive in San Francisco.
  • In the year 1949, 90,000 migrants arrive in California.

    The 49'ersThey later become known as Forty-Niners. An estimated two-thirds are white Americans, but the Forty-Niners also include large numbers of Chinese, Chileans, Peruvians, Mexicans, Europeans, And Australians. 97% of the migrants are men.
  • California requests statehood.

    California delegates assembled in the coastal town of Monterey and draft a state constitution, requesting admittance to the Union.
  • 10 million worth of gold extracted in 1849

    In 1849, ten million dollars worth of gold is extracted by miners from the mines in California.
  • Population of California exceeds 30,000

    The population was less than 1000 prior to the gold discovery at Sutter's Mill.
  • California becomes a state.

    In Washington, Congress agrees to the Compromise of 1850, which admits California to the Union as a free state.
  • 41 million in gold is extracted in 1850

    And all of it came from the California mines!