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The California Gold Rush ran from 1848 to 1855 in Sierra Nevada and North Carolina. Over 300,000 people rushed to the area to pan for gold. It had such an impact that settlements and roads had to be built and it resulted in California becoming its own State. See the fact file below for more information on the California Gold Rush:
- The California Gold Rush started at a place called Sutter’s Mill near Coloma, El Dorado County, California. At the time this area was known as Sierra Nevada because California was not yet a recognized State.
- The first person to find gold in California was James W. Marshall on January 24, 1848.
- James W. Marshall was a carpenter and found a piece of shiny metal (gold) in a water mill on the American River at Sutter’s Mill.
- The owner of the mill, John Sutter, wanted to keep the gold discovery a secret in case it ruined his agricultural plans. However, rumors quickly spread and soon the New York Herald newspaper was reporting the discovery of gold.
- The area where the gold was discovered became known as the Gold Country and the Mother Lode Country.
- A local San Francisco merchant, Samuel Brannan, was amongst the first to set up a shop selling supplies for gold prospecting. He is famous for carrying a vial of gold through San Francisco shouting “Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!”
- Soon after the newspaper reports, hundreds of immigrants from around the world flocked to California in search of gold. These people were known as the ‘forty-niners’ as most of them arrived in 1849.
- Men, women and children from all cultures panned for gold next to each other.
- Some people collected thousands of dollars’ worth of gold each day, collecting 6 years’ worth of wages in just 6 months.
- Between 1848 and 1850 the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000 people as so many people wanted to settle near the gold.
- The majority of the forty-niners arrived by sea. Many of the journeys were months long and very treacherous. Many immigrants died from shipwreck, cholera or typhoid fever.
- It’s estimated that around 90,000 people arrived in California in 1849.
- The Gold Rush was the largest mass migration in US history.
- People came to California from all around the world, including Latin America, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Africa, China and the Caribbean.
- Thousands of ships arrived in San Francisco’s harbor and were left abandoned as their owners went searching for gold.
- After the initial discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, people began moving towards Northern California where nuggets of gold had been found along the Siskiyou Trail. As people travelled North, new settlements appeared, only to disappear and become Gold Rush Ghost Towns as people moved on.
- So many towns and settlements were created during the Gold Rush that a state constitution was written and representatives were sent to Washington D.C to negotiate California becoming a State.
- Most of the accessible gold was removed by 1850, leaving only the gold that needed to be mined for.
- The Gold Rush had a significant impact on the local people and the environment: hunting and agriculture became near impossible and chemicals created by prospecting killed fish and habitats.
- Since the Gold Rush, California has become known as the Golden State and many people have moved to the area in search of the California Dream.
California Gold Rush Worksheets
This bundle includes 11 ready-to-use California Gold Rush Worksheet that are perfect for students to learn about the Gold Rush which ran from 1848 to 1855 in Sierra Nevada and North Carolina. Over 300,000 people rushed to the area to pan for gold. It had such an impact that settlements and roads had to be built and it resulted in California becoming its own State.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- California Gold Rush Facts
- California Gold Rush Trail Map
- California Gold Rush Word Search
- Analyze It
- Mr. Shufelt’s letter
- Eyewitness: Colonel Richard Barnes Mason
- Picture Analysis I
- Picture Analysis II
- Work of a Miner
- Positive and Negative Effects
- The California Dream
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.