The Gold Rush for Kids and Teachers IllustrationPicture

    California Gold Rush Webquest


    News of the discovery of gold in California in 1848 inspired thousands to cross the continent. This unit presents the West as a region defined geographically by its arid, rugged land and historically by its role as a meeting ground for diverse groups of people. The California Gold Rush was the largest mass migration in American history since it brought about 300,000 people to California.

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    Just days after gold was discovered in 1849 at Sutter's Mill, California, the Mexican-American War ended. America won! As part of the treaty, Mexico had to give up California. California became part of the United States. Hardly anybody lived there at the time, perhaps only 1,000 people. When the word went out that gold had been discovered in California, things changed. About 300,000 people headed to California in search of gold. Almost 100,000 people arrived in the first two years. And gold was found!

    Over the next 10 years, 750,000 pounds of gold was found in California. Today, that would be equivalent to billions of dollars! But very few people got rich from the gold they found. Merchants discovered they could make far more money selling supplies to the miners at ridiculous prices than they could out sarching for gold. During the gold rush:

    • Shovels cost around $36. Today that would be equivalent to $1000 (for one shovel.)
    • Cheese was $25 a pound. Today that would be equivalent to $700 a pound
    • Beef was $10 a pound. Today that would be equivalent to $280 a pound
    • Flour was $13 a bag. Today that would be equivalent to $365 a bag
    • You get the idea. It was ridiculous.


    What problems did miners or people face during the Gold Rush in 1849 to 1850?  

    Answer:The gold miners had so many problems and issues in California and traveling to California and it was really hard to survive and find a lot of gold with all the problems and issues.

    What problems did gold miners face when they were traveling to California?

    Answer: At least 32,000 people came to California in 1849, then 1 year later in 1850 44,000 more people came to California. When miners were on their way to California  it could take up to 9 months or more to get there by foot or by covered wagon . Also most of the immigrants rushing to California had no choice but to come by sea and the promises of ship’s advertisements were quickly disproved by the realities of life on board and gold fever was soon replaced with sea sickness. There were many hardships, struggles and dangers at sea, terrible storms , inadequate food and water , rampant diseases , overcrowding boats , and shipwrecks.

    What problems did gold miners face when they arrived or were in California?

    Answer: When gold miners arrived in California they found mining dangerous and difficult and there was absolutely NO guarantee of success! After spending all of their life savings to go to California , putting cherished belongings aside and leaving loved ones, friends or family behind, also their houses, many miners never found gold. A quote is “One of every five miners who came to California died within 6 months."

    What were some events and effects that happened during the Gold Rush?

    Answer: Some world-wide events and conditions set the stage: Political instability and revolution , class  tension , economic depression and repression . These tensions caused crime/stealing , recklessness and racism in California as well . Gold and the Gold Rush also caused wars and other types of fighting.

    What were the populations of people in California before and during the Gold Rush?

    Answer:  Some estimate that the population of people living in California increased from 1,000
    to 86,000 people in just 2 years(a giant jump!). They also all had to share: food, water, land, and other resources (in California). By 1850, most of the surface gold had disappeared (other miners had already taken it, it didn’t actually disappear!) but new miners kept on coming to California not knowing at all where there was gold . The new miners had to work really hard to find the gold and dig really deep to find a piece of gold or nugget. Also there wasn’t a way to tell the miners that the gold was “disappearing”. There was no such thing of emailing or texting or phones in the 1800s!

    If Cholera, exhaustion, starvation or onset of winter in Sierra didn’t claim them, Argonauts arrived in the foothills of California to discover that most of the “easy-placer” gold had already been picked up.

    In conclusion, miners faced many issues, difficulties and problems. The Gold Rush was a very dangerous and difficult few years. There weren't many ways to fix these problems, fix these issues and cure the sicknesses & diseases that the miners caught, have or suddenly picked from other miners.

    FUN FACT about how the Gold Rush started:  Did you know that John Marshall was the first to find a nugget of gold, then everyone wanted gold too so they ALL , well most of the world wanted find gold too or to get rich or at least wanted to help their families survive, get food and water, have shelter, get important resources,  and farm animals like cattle, horses, pigs, chickens or/and other important or farm animals that the miners needed to survive.