The Gold Rush: California Transformed

The discovery of gold in California was an epoch-making event. News of the discovery attracted to California hundreds of thousands of gold-seekers from across the country and around the world. Their coming transformed not only the economic history of California, but much of its social, cultural, and political history as well.

  • The World Rushed In
  • "Some Kind of Mettle"
  • Forty-Eighters
  • Gold Fever
  • Sea Routes
  • The Overland Trail
  • Jim Beckwourth of Beckwourth Pass
  • Boom Towns
  • Life in the Diggings
  • Early Mining Methods
  • Hydraulicking
  • Law and Order
  • The Miners' Ten Commandments
  • Mining the Miners
  • "The Lousy Miner"
  • Dame Shirley
  • Remembering the Gold Rush
  • Diversity and Conflict
  • Native American Miners
  • Episodes in Extermination
  • The Destruction of the Ranchos
  • Latino Miners
  • Keskydees
  • Kanakas
  • Gam Saan
  • African Americans
  • Biddy Mason
  • Statehood
  • Constitution Making
  • Admissions Day
  • The Roving Capital


The Speck of the Future (1996). The third episode of Ken Burn's "The West" series. First hand accounts of the rush for gold and also covers the slaughter of California Indians resulting from the influx of forty niners. (PBS) This is an excellent documentary. YdL.


Marshall Gold Discovery State Historical Park, Coloma. This is a fascinating and well restored historic site. Of special interest are the museaum, thew operating replica of "Sutter's Mill, and the Marshall Monument on the hill overlooking the site of Marshall's discovery on the American River.

Old Sacramento, Sacramento. The original town has been carefully restored and is now a National Registered Historic Landmark and one of the leading examples of historic preservation in the entire nation.

Colton Hall, Monterey. Site of the drafting of the constitution. The upstairs room where the 48 delegates met contains an impressive exhibit explaining the convention and its participants.

California State Capitol Building, Sacramento. Constructed between 1860 and 1874. This ecently restored building is a magnificent testament to its original designers and builders as well as the highly skilled artisans and craftsmen who restored to its original splendor.

Benicia Capitol State Historic Park, Benicia. The site of the third "capitol on wheels" in 1853. Excellent historic exhibits including reconstructed period furniture.

Placerville. Site of the first mob action of gold rush California. Known for five years as "hangtown". The present city has a number of restored historic buildings and other remainders of the days of frontier justice.

Fort Gunnybaggs, San Francisco. Now a state historical landmark. This site was the headquarters of the 1856 San Francisco Vigilance Committee.

East Bay Negro Historical Society, Oakland. Focuses primarily on the study of East Bay black history. It maintains an excellent museum comprising various artifacts and photographs.

California Afro American Museum, Los Angeles. Contains numerous artifacts, art and photographs relating to the history of African Americans.

Chinese Historical Society Museum. San Francisco. Considered the best museum of California Chinese history. It features exhibits on 19th and 20th centuries.

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, Northwest of Delano. This is the site of the only California town founded (1908) and governed by African Americans. Several historic buildings have been restored, and the park features a museum with exhibits depicting the town's history.

PLEASE READ CHAPTERS: 8, 9,10, 11 in your textbook

Discussion Session 2: January 27th and 28th, 2005
First Student Project Due: January 31st, 2005

LINK: California History online. A program of the California Historical Society.



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