On a cold January morning in 1848, a discovery by a little-known carpenter working just 40 miles away from Sacramento changed, not only the history of California, but also the world. The carpenter was James Marshall and his discovery was a nugget of gold, no larger than a pea.



Marshall had been hired by John Sutter to build a sawmill to help establish the dream Sutter had of an empire between the Sacramento and American Rivers. He named his budding city New Helvetia. The sawmill was to help prepare lumber to build the homes and businesses needed in New Helvetia. The area now known as Coloma, named for the Cullumah Indians who lived there, was chosen on which to build the mill due to the straightness of the trees in the area and the position of the American River. The river would provide the power to move the saws to cut the lumber. The river would flow through the millrace which would cause a huge waterwheel to spin. The movement of the waterwheel would cause a sawblade to move up and down. At the same time, a log would be fed into the saw and lumber would be cut. Each board that was cut from a tree would require 30 minutes of sawing. While building the tailrace for the water to speed through to power the waterwheel, Marshall uncovered gold.


At first, the news was to be kept secret. However, word leaked out. It wasn't until December of 1848 when President Polk gave a speech which confirmed the discovery of gold in the area known as California that people took the search for gold seriously. Once the speech was given, a worldwide phenomenon resulted. People from all over the world traveled to California, which wasn't even a state yet, hoping to strike it rich. Few found the glory they were after, but most couldn't deny that they were on the adventure of their lifetime!


This section of the website will provide links to gold rush sites that reside all over the Internet. Additionally, there is a link from this page to the Gold Rush simlulation in which the students will take part.


Video Link

Click here for the video called "The Gold Rush" in order to answer the questions
 to earn bonus gold nuggets for your mining team

The Discovery


Gold Fever!

The Gold Rush

Gold Rush Overview

The Story of the Gold Rush-step by step

Gold Rush Overview from the History Channel

The Gold Rush as told through Quicktime movies

The Discovery of Gold, according to John A. Sutter

A tour of the California Gold Rush with Shockwave


People of the Gold Rush

John Sutter

James Marshall

Sam Brannan

Life as a Forty-Niner

Women in the Gold Rush

Stories from Pioneer Women

The Gold Rush for Kids from Ducksters

The Gold Rush as seen by Natives and Immigrants


The Journey to California

Travel to California by Sea

Three ways to get to California

Travel to California on The Oregon Trail

Travel to California through the Panama Shortcut


First Person Accounts of the Gold Rush


A Gold Rush Diary

A Collection of Letters

Patrick Breen's Diary from the Donner Camp

Eyewitness to History-the California Gold Rush

First Hand Account of the Discovery by James Marshall




Timelines, Justice and Gold Rush fun!

Art of the Gold Rush

Map of the Gold Camps

Gold Rush Word Search

Why is gold so valuable?

Play the Gold Rush Game

Justice during the Gold Rush

California Gold Rush Stories

Fun Facts about the Gold Rush

The Photos of the California Gold Rush

Chronology from 1846-1849 with links!

California Gold Rush Overview for Kids

Get a Family to the Gold Fields of California-game


Sunday in the Mines

It has been said that the tree divides the picture into two separate parts of camp life.

Can you tell what they are?

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