Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River, was the famous announcement that a man by the name of Sam Brannan yelled up and down the streets of San Francisco while holding a vial of proof of its existence (Cherny, Lemke-Santangelo & Griswold del Castillo, 2014). Gold had been found previously in California, but it wasn’t until after Sam Brannan’s announcement did the rush for gold start to spark the possibility of being able to attain personal gain from these findings. As the news of a bountiful of gold drifting down California’s river’s spread across nation’s, it brought great changes to California.
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The Gold Rush started a movement to California, increasing population, expanding diversity, changing the economy and environmentally changed California’s landscape.
Gold was first discovered in California in 1842 by a Mexican man by the name of Francisco Lopez. Francisco Lopez was checking out a herd of cattle and hunting with two other men in the San Francisquito Canyon. When the men took a break near the river to have something to eat, Francisco Lopez decided to take a nap under a tree. As the story has been passed down through the years, it is told that as Francisco Lopez napped, he dreamt of drifting freely across a river made of pure liquefied gold. Once Francisco Lopez awoke from his fantasy of gold, he started to dig at some wild onions he had found close by. As he dug, he spotted a fragment of gold glistening in the light. Francisco Lopez couldn’t believe his dream had become a reality. He truly had found gold (The First Gold Rush, 1994). With Francisco Lopez’s discovery, hundreds of fortune seekers traveled to what is now known as the San Francisquito Canyon to try their luck in mining their own gold. Francisco Lopez’s discovery did not yet start what is now known as the Gold Rush, but it was the beginning of what was to come. Within a year, one-hundred and twenty-five pounds of gold was taken from the San Fransciquito Canyon area. The Oak of the Golden Dream, is the same tree that still stands till this day where Francisco Lopez took his most famous nap and dreamt of gold (Sabbatini, 1994).
Years later gold was discovered at a different location in Northern California on January 24, 1848. James Wilson Marshall was working for John Sutter in Coloma along with fifty other men from the Mormon Battalion, including a group of Indian workers. The men were in the process of building a ditch near the American River to bring water to Sutter’s Mill when James W. Marshall from his own words explains my eye was caught with the glimpse of something shining in the ditch as he discovered the flakes of gold (Marshall,
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