Prospecting for gold was a very costly enterprise. Most of the men who flocked to northern California arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs. Once there, they needed to buy food, goods and supplies, which San Francisco’s merchants were all too willing to provide—for a cost.
In 1848, gold was discovered by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill Coloma, California. The news slowly got out to other states and countries. By 1849 president James Polk declared a gold rush. Over 200,000 people from all over the world came in hope they would get lucky and strike gold. People would use simple techniques such as panning to get out of the rivers and streams. The gold rush lasted until 1855.
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