Gold Discovered at Sutter’s Mill
At John A. Sutter’s sawmill near where the American and Sacramento rivers converge in California, carpenter James W. Marshall found gold on January 24, 1848. Marshall, Sutter and their workers tried to keep the discovery quiet but gold-seekers quickly began pouring into California, raising the state’s non-Indian population to about 20,000 in 1848, 100,000 in 1849 and twice that amount by 1852. Gold mining was a multi-million-dollar industry, but so many people had come to claim their fortunes–from other states and other countries–that few of them actually became rich. Miners, like those shown above, often found that searching for gold was more difficult work than they had expected.
Image: Library of Congress