A pea-sized gold nugget was unearthed at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California 152 years ago on January 24, 1848. Although the news did spread, Sam Brannan, a San Francisco newspaperman, is credited with starting the actual rush on May 12 when he walked the streets of San Francisco holding up a quinine bottle filled with gold nuggets and shouting, "Gold, gold, gold, from the American River." Within three days, a third of the city's 600 men were on their way to Sutter's Mill. By mid-June, Brannan's newspaper had to suspend publication because his entire staff had run off to gold country.
"Although the gold in the California hills eventually ran out â€” the impact of the Gold Rush era lives on. California was shaped by the adventurers who stayed -- to form the idea that is California today: a place that accepts and nurtures risk takers." The best nuggets on this PBS site (created as a companion to their television documentary) can be found in the About the Gold Rush section. And don't miss the "amazing, weird, gross" Fun Facts. Would you pay $100 for a glass of water?
Welcome to Oakland Museum's Gold Rush exhibit. This virtual tour is divided into a narrative (Gold Fever), a display of Gold Rush paintings (Gold Rush Art), and a photo exhibit (Silver & Gold). The best clicks of the site are the multimedia components (Shockwave and Apple's QTR) listed across the top of each page. Unfortunately, the quiz and several other pages are just "Coming Soon."
"It was in the first part of January, 1848, when the gold was discovered at Coloma, where I was then building a saw-mill. The contractor and builder of this mill was James W. Marshall, from New Jersey." So begins General Sutter's own account of the discovery of gold. This collection of eyewitness tales includes reports from European and New York newspapers, as well as a detailed chronology of California's history during the Gold Rush years.