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Eventually, the Gold Rush would make him ... By early 1849


Eventually, the Gold Rush would make him ... By early 1849, gold fever was an epidemic. ... And he sold two types of salve, one for gold and one for silver. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Eventually, the Gold Rush would make him ... By early 1849

  • It Rocks!

Mining Culture
After the California gold rush, each new strike
inspired more settlers westward in hopes of
finding the next Comstock Lode or Klondike River.
  • Mining Communities
  • Most miners were men, but some families and
    single women also came.
  • Mining camps were usually just groups of tents
    and shacks.
  • Some camps grew into towns with stores and
  • As more families arrived, churches, schools, and
    newspapers sprang up.
  • Some camps grew into major cities such as Denver,
  • Mining as a Business
  • At first individual prospectors worked mines with
    hand tools.
  • When surface deposits ran out, large companies
    moved in to prospect with machinery.
  • At that point, most miners went to work for large
    companies giving up on striking it rich.
  • It was dangerous work, and some miners tried to
    organize unions for better working conditions,
    but mining companies resisted.

Discovery of Gold
  • John Sutter -- an affable Swiss immigrant to
    California in 1839.
  • Wanted to build a private empire
  • Built a fort, amassed 12,000 head of cattle, and
    took on hundreds of workers.
  • James Marshall and about 20 men were sent to the
    river by Sutter to build a sawmill
  • The sawmill was nearly complete when a glint of
    something caught Marshall's eye. It was January
    24th, 1848.
  • "I reached my hand down and picked it up it made
    my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold.
    The piece was about half the size and shape of a
    pea. Then I saw another."
  • But it wasn't long before stories of gold
    filtered into the surrounding countryside. Yet
    there was no race to the American River. The news
    of Marshall's gold was just another fantastic
    tale -- too unlikely to be believed.
  • Sam Brannan- a San Francisco merchant,
  • a skilled craftsman of hype. Eventually, the Gold
    Rush would make him the richest person in
    California -- but Sam Brannan never mined for
  • running through the streets of San Francisco
    shouting about Marshall's discovery
  • he wasn't planning on digging for it. He was
    planning on selling shovels. And the first person
    who sold shovels got a lot more gold that the
    person who had to dig for it."
  • Brannan keenly understood the laws of supply and
  • His wild run through San Francisco came just
    after he had purchased every pick axe, pan and
    shovel in the region. A metal pan that sold for
    twenty cents a few days earlier, was now
    available from Brannan for fifteen dollars. In
    just nine weeks he made thirty-six thousand

California Gold Rush- 353
The Pattern
  • Gold found- or at least reported as found
  • Population Boom- Boom Town
  • Gold either not found in abundance or it all gets
    mined out- Ghost Town

lt Nome, Alaska Goldfield, AZ gt
Gold Fever
  • Farmers left their fields merchants closed their
    shops soldiers left their posts -- and made
    plans for California. Newspapers fanned the
  • Horace Greeley the of New York Tribune
    "Fortune lies upon the surface of the earth as
    plentiful as the mud in our streets. We look for
    an addition within the next four years equal to
    at least One Thousand Million of Dollars to the
    gold in circulation."
  •  By early 1849, gold fever was an epidemic.
  • "In the Richmond, Indiana paper (in 1849) for
    example, there was a big ad. This guy was selling
    salve you got it in a bottle -- and for 2.50 or
    5.00 you could get this bottle of salve. And all
    you did was rub it all over your body, get up on
    the top of the mountain and roll down and all the
    gold stuck to you and guaranteed you by the time
    you got to bottom with one roll you'd have enough
    gold, when you scraped it off, to live happily
    ever after. That was all you needed. And he sold
    two types of salve, one for gold and one for

  • No expression characterized the California gold
    rush more than the words "seeing the elephant."
    Those planning to travel west announced they were
    "going to see the elephant." Those turning back
    claimed they had seen the "elephants tracks" or
    the "elephants tail," and admitted that view was
  • The expression predated the gold rush, arising
    from a tale current when circus parades first
    featured elephants. A farmer, so the story went,
    hearing that a circus was in town, loaded his
    wagon with vegetables for the market there. He
    had never seen an elephant and very much wished
    to. On the way to town he encountered the circus
    parade, led by an elephant. The farmer was
    thrilled, but his horses were not. Terrified,
    they bolted, overturning the wagon and ruining
    the vegetables. "I dont give a hang," the farmer
    said, "for I have seen the elephant."
  • For gold rushers, the elephant symbolized both
    the high cost of their endeavorthe myriad
    possibilities for misfortune on the journey or in
    Californiaand like the farmers circus elephant,
    an exotic sight, an unequaled experience, the
    adventure of a lifetime.

Weird Ways West
  • Rufus Porter, founder of Scientific American,
    planned to fly 49ers west on propeller-driven
    balloons powered by steam engines. He went to far
    as to advertise the expedition, and 200 brave
    souls signed up for the trip. But the "airline"
    never got off the ground.
  • Then there was the "wind wagon," sort of a cross
    between a sailboat and a wagon. It seemed like a
    good idea on paper after all, it can be very
    windy in the West. A prototype was built and for
    a brief moment it barreled across the plains at
    the advertised 15 miles-per-hour. Then it went
    out of control and crashed. The inventor --
    Wind-wagon Thomas -- kept trying for years, but
    never succeeded.
  • Others took a more low-tech approach, making the
    trip with only a simple wheelbarrow. It's hard to
    imagine pushing a fully-loaded wheelbarrow for
    2,000 miles, but several dozen attempted the
    trip. For a time, they could outpace everything
    on the Trail, but human endurance has its limits.
    No one is quite sure if any of them made it all
    the way with their wheelbarrows.

The 100 drink of water
  • Would you spend 100 for a glass of water? Some
    49ers on the California Trail did.
  • Because of poor planning, many western-bound
    49ers were unprepared for the hot, dry deserts of
    Nevada. A few sharp businessmen in California
    knew this and took advantage of the situation.
    They traveled eastward with barrels of water.
    Extremely thirsty, many 49ers paid 1, 5, even
    100 for a glass of precious water.
  • But water was not the only expensive item on the
    Oregon-California Trail. For example, at the
    start of the journey, flour could be purchased
    for 4.00 a barrel, but further along the price
    rose to a sky-high 1.00 per pint. Other staples
    could also be quite expensive
  • Sugar 1.50 per pint
  • Coffee 1.00 per pint
  • Liquor 4.00 per pint
  • Surprisingly, there were other staples that were
    amazingly cheap. For example, at Ft. Laramie,
    bacon could be had for a penny per pound. Those
    who had excess bacon often considered it
    worthless and dumped it by the side of the road.
    One emigrant reported seeing ten tons on one
  • Why the wide disparity in prices? The basic laws
    of supply and demand were at work. Most wagon
    trains took too much bacon and so it had little
    trading value. Water, on the other hand was in
    short supply and thus commanded a high price.

Traffic on the Trail
  • Bumper-to-bumper highway congestion isn't just a
    modern phenomena. Rush hour traffic on the
    Oregon-California trail was just as bad --
    probably worse.
  • The image of a lone wagon on the endless prairie
    is largely myth it's more accurate to imagine a
    moving city. Many reported seeing wagons all the
    way to the horizon day after day.
  • And just like today's highways, there was quite a
    bit of jockeying for position. The goal was to
    get in front of the pack because anyone who was
    behind had to eat the billowing dust kicked up by
    the wagons ahead. Competition was fierce those
    in the back often had to put on goggles just to
  • The crowded conditions got even worse in the
    evening when the wagons came together to camp.
    Many 49ers discovered that previous wagon trains
    had overgrazed the prairie, and so there was no
    remaining grass for the oxen and mules to graze.
    So it was not uncommon for 49ers to venture miles
    off the trail in the evening in search of grass
    for their animals.
  • A more serious consequence of all this crowding
    was poor sanitation. Each new wagon train dug
    their latrines near the previous group's -- and
    there was often leakage into the water supply.
    The result was illness and death.

To California via Antarctica
  • Not every 49er used the Oregon -California Trail.
    There were other routes to gold country -- one
    came perilously close to Antarctica!
  • Those who did not want to endure a four month
    walk across the west, traveled to California by
    ship. Trouble was, there was no direct water
    route to the west coast. So a ship leaving New
    York had to travel all the way to the tip of
    South America -- skirting the edge of the the
    Antarctic continent -- before heading north to
    California. It was a difficult trip that
    sometimes took a complete year.
  • So it was inevitable that several shortcuts were
    developed for the gold-crazed 49ers who were in a
    big hurry to get west. The most popular cutoff
    involved taking a ship to the Isthmus of Panama,
    then trekking overland to the Pacific side
    (remember, there was no Panama Canal then) where
    another ship would pick them up -- hopefully.
  • When the 49ers got to the Pacific side, they
    waited and waited for weeks, or even months. When
    a ship finally did arrive, passage might cost
    500 or 1000, and sometimes there was no space
    at any price.
  • Even worse, many of the Pacific-side ships were
    unseaworthy and sank en route. In the end, many
    regretted not taking the overland route.

Okay, so who, how, but where?
  • California- 1849
  • Cherry Creek, CO- 1858
  • William Larimer- I am Denver City
  • Comstock Lode- 1859
  • Yukon Gold Rush- 1897

Boom Town and Gold Strikes 147
Boom Town- one minute
The Miner
  • People, men almost exclusively, from all jobs and
  • Expensive to head west and get started
  • Many left families at home in towns out West
  • Most busted, some very wealthy in the end
  • Mining takes a large corporation to be profitable

Individual Miners
  • John W. Mackay- Big Bonanza on silver
  • Comstock Lode- Henry Comstock, 11,000
  • Panning for gold
  • Laws amongst miners

Law and Order
  • The gold rush had attracted a less desirable
    crowd. Crooks, bandits, claim jumpers,
    professional gamblers and others came to take
    advantage of the wealth.
  • No Laws
  • Claims in some camps- only one 10 foot square
  • Claim Jumping- taking someone elses claim.
  • Swindlers would also "salt" the ground,
    scattering a little gold around and then sell the
    land for lots of money.
  • Punishment for crimes was often fast and simple.
    Fines or banishments. Small crimes were punished
    by flogging with a whip. For more serious crimes,
    such as robbery and murder, the punishment was
  • The government could not control the crime.
    People set up vigilante groups to track down
    criminals and ensure justice.
  • Bull Fighting- brought by Mexicans was changed to
    bear v. bull- The Bear would bear-hug the bull
    and pull it down. The Bull would charge the bear
    trying to gore it swinging its head upward.
    (Wall Street Jargon A Bear market is down and
    the Bull Market is up.)

Mining Methods- 125
Gold Country
  • Most of the world's gold is locked deep
    underground -- embedded in hard rock. But
    California gold was different -- easily
    accessible to anyone with a few simple tools and
    a willingness to work hard.
  • It's free politically. It doesn't belong to
    anybody. There is no sign that says keep out.
    There's no government. There's no wire. There's
    no order. There's none of the normal obstacles
    political obstacles. The California Gold Rush is
    there, open, free. There is no military force
    here to impose any rules. There's no taxes
    collected, no tax collectors. There's no judicial
    system. There are no boundaries, there's no
    rules. It's there, it's free.
  • It was free -- and it was plentiful. Soon there
    was too much money in California and too little
    of everything else. The lessons of supply and
    demand were often painful. A forty-niner who
    earned a dollar a day back home, could make
    twenty-five dollars in a day of mining -- but
    that was often just enough to buy dinner.
  • Camps sprouted up and evolved into ramshackle
    boomtowns to serve the growing population --
    places with accurate names like Hangtown, Gouge
    Eye, Rough and Ready, and Whiskeytown. Places to
    avoid -- were it not for the gold. Places that
    were wild, open, free.

Collision of Cultures
  • Many mines, especially in the south, were worked
    by foreigners who came solely for the gold.
    Chinese, Chileans, Mexicans, Irish, Germans,
    French, and Turks all sought their fortune in
  • Foreign miners had no intention of staying in
    California. Their goal was to get the gold and
    get home. But hauling gold out of the country was
    a difficult operation -- bandits often preyed on
    foreigners. The Chinese had a unique solution-
    melting it down into cooking utensils.
  • California legislature passed the Foreign Miners
    Tax in 1850, a 20 per month levy payable by
    every foreign miner
  • Yet one ethnic group did not do well -- the
    original residents of California's gold country
    Native Americans. Uninterested in gold or in
    mining -- they were almost immediately
    annihilated. 300,000. And it was quickly reduced
    to only 50,000.
  • Southerners who brought their slaves to help in
    the digging quickly found out that 49ers didn't
    take kindly to that idea -- but it wasn't because
    of an opposition to slavery. The miners had quite
    a different reason for objecting.
  • In 1850, California was admitted to the Union as
    a free state

The Gold Rush and Native Americans (0624)
Women in the Mining Community
  • One woman made 18,000 just from a single Dutch
    oven. Women relished their first taste of
    economic independence. If you could wash clothes,
    you could make 8 a dozen. If you could cook a
    meal, you could sell it for 5- 10, if you could
    run a boarding house, you could clear a 200 a
    week, if you could get enough boarders. And a
    number of women simply put to use their domestic
    skills which was a very smart thing to do.
    Because men didn't want to cook. And there were
    all those men with dirty shirts and hungry
    bellies waiting for somebody to come and take
    care of them."
  • "A fellow who got married charged 5.00 for
    people to come to his wedding so they could see
    his bride.

  • Sam Brannan- cornered the market on certain goods
    and raised the price.
  • Levi Straus- pants out of canvas and the use of
    metal rivets
  • Phillip Armour- opened a meat market and
    processing plant
  • John Sudebaker- wheelbarrow maker turned covered
    wagon maker for the Oregon Trail
  • Wells and Fargo make Wells Fargo, a giant in

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Yukon Territory- 353
Flock to the Yukon- 359
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