A BRIEF HISTORY OF GOLD FEVER
The California Mother Lode
For seven years during the mid1800s, the California Mother Lode was overrun with settlers, crooks, criminals and fools from a variety of nations. These hardy souls had hopes of finding enough gold to become rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Most ended up either settling into their ranches and businesses or spending their last days on Earth as the discoverer James Marshall did: in poverty.
It all began when James Marshall partnered with John Sutter and proceeded to build a mill on the American River at Coloma, California. In January of 1848, Marshall looked into the river and saw some gold flakes in the water. Marshall and Sutter tried to keep the discovery under wraps, but the secret got out and the gold rush commenced.
For the next seven years, hundreds of thousands of people flooded into the Mother Lode to scour the rivers and rocks for gold. The gold rush slowed down when the placer (surface) and strike (underground) claims played out and hydraulic mining commenced.