I missed out on the the grade school field trip to Sutter’s Mill, so when I paid the historical landmark a visit in preparation for the launch of the Blackwing 530, I learned quite a bit. I also fell down a rabbit hole of Gold Rush research that produced some interesting facts. Here are eight of my favorite interesting/quirky tidbits about the California Gold Rush:
- I currently live across the street from Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, CA (approximately 45 miles from the gold discovery site). Sutter’s Fort was owned by the same John Sutter who owned Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, but was abandoned after the gold discovery in 1848.
- John Sutter contracted James Marshall to build his saw mill in Coloma. It was while building this mill that Marshall made his famous discovery. In the frenzy of the gold hunt, however, the mill fell into disrepair, and was never used for its intended purpose.
- Marshall originally tried to keep his discovery a secret. As you can imagine, word spread quickly, despite his best efforts.
- The California Gold Rush was the largest mass migration in US history. In all, over 300,000 people migrated to California in search of fortune.
- When their situation started looking dire, the infamous Donner Party sent two men to Sutter’s Fort in search of help. By the time help arrived… well, you know.
- The Gold Rush is synonymous with the number “49,” despite gold being discovered in 1848 (I guess “48ers” doesn’t have the same ring to it).
- Neither John Sutter nor James Marshall profited from the gold discovery. In fact, salesmen and entrepreneurs, not miners and prospectors, proved to have the most lucrative Gold Rush careers.
- Levi Strauss got his start as a dry goods seller in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. His durable trousers proved to be a big hit with miners.