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It is not known for sure who first used the term "gold rush". It is known that it originated in 1848 in California, USA in the valley of the American River, on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, were accidentally discovered sand deposits with a high admixture of gold. There was so much gold in the sand that anyone could extract it with a shovel, sieve, and several basins. This method of washing sand in science is called sludge, and people engaged in such activities were known as diggers. However, the California Gold Rush is considered as a tragic event, the nature of which was determined by an overly high demand for gold at the time.
The History of California Gold Rush
The history of mankind has known many "gold rush" that occurs in different countries and on different continents. The first of them was born, probably in the Middle Ages in Latin and South America, when hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Europe moved to a new world in search of the coveted "gold of the Indians" (“California Gold Rush”). Essentially, the prime tragedy of the situation occurs in its premise. Thousands of people would migrate and risk their lives based on a myth.
The gold rush in California occurred between 1848 and 1855. More than 300,000 people rushed to California to find gold and "enrich it with the rich." The gold was first discovered in California by James Marshall at the Sutters Mill near the city of Coloma. James was building a sawmill for John Sutter when he found shiny flakes of gold in the river. He told John Sutter about the discovery, and they tried to keep it a secret, but it soon became known and the searchers traveled to California to find the gold. With some luck, the prospector could get rich in a short time, so the areas of gold-bearing placers were instantly filled with a huge number of people (Conrad et al. 522). With their arrival, the infrastructure of the area began to develop as new settlements grew, roads were built, and a previously uninhabited area was filled with people.
Every time gold was discovered in a new place, miners went there and set up a mountain camp. Sometimes these camps quickly grew into towns called boom towns, such as San Francisco and Colombia. Eventually, many cities of prosperity turned into abandoned ghost towns. When the gold ran out in the area, the miners went out to find the next gold hit. Businesses would also leave, and the city would soon be empty and abandoned. One example of the ghost town of the gold rush is Bodie, California. Today it is a popular tourist attraction (Conrad et al. 524). This appears to be a problem of many ghost towns and cities around the world, the main purpose of which was centered on natural resources located nearby.
When gold was discovered, San Francisco was a small town of about 1,000 people. A few years later, it had more than 30,000 inhabitants. California was accepted into the 31st United States in 1850 during the gold rush. There have been other gold mines in the United States, including Pike Peak Gold in Colorado and Klondike Gold in Alaska. Historians estimate that about 12 million ounces of gold were mined during the gold rush (“California Gold Rush”). Hence, despite its largely tragic history, the California Gold Rush gave new life to the region, allowing it to develop and flourish turning into cities known well around the world today.
Since then, the "gold rush" has arisen in various places, such as Australia or Africa. But all of them do not compare to the "gold rush" in the United States, when diligence, thanks to the media, becomes a real show, excites the minds of hundreds of thousands of people. It was the discovery of gold deposits in California, and then in Alaska, that gave rise to the widespread spread of this concept, its introduction into literature and cinema, and hence into the mass consciousness (Conrad et al. 542). In the end, the gold rush, however, is remembered by Americans and the United States as a great historical occurrence, without any particular tragic or joyous context. The historical significance of the rush does not shrink because of this, nevertheless.
Nowadays, there are almost no places on Earth where one can find a lot of surface gold. Exploratory romance is a thing of the past, leaving us with memories of those brave and daring people who sought wild lands, driven by the thirst for profit and glory, who changed themselves and transformed entire neighborhoods, building cities and roads in wild, unoccupied places. And, putting our hand on our heart, we will be a little jealous of these people who live such a passionate, full life. America should be grateful to them at least for the fact that the years of the "gold rush" filled its reserves with tons of gold, strengthened financial strength. After all, only California, extracted 3.5 thousand tons of gold, about a third of all precious metals found in the United States during all the years of the country's existence.
"California Gold Rush". HISTORY, 2022, https://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/gold-rush-of-1849.
Conrad, Cyler et al. "Finny Merchandise: The Atlantic Cod (Gadus Morhua) Trade in Gold Rush–Era San Francisco, California". Journal of Anthropological Research, vol 77, no. 4, 2021, pp. 520-549. University of Chicago Press, https://doi.org/10.1086/716744. Accessed 14 Apr 2022.
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