Historical Reading: The California Gold Rush
Gold was discovered in California by James Marshall at Sutter’s sawmill on the South Fork of the American River near Coloma (36 miles northeast of Sacramento) on Jan. 24, 1848. The first published accounts of the find appeared in “The Californian,” a San Francisco newspapers, on March 15, 1848. The news was first met with disbelief by those who doubted this valuable metal could just be picked up off the ground.
Subsequent confirmation of the initial reports of the extent of the gold region set off a rush.
Adventurers from the U.S. and around the world traveled to California to seek their fortunes. Excitement at their financial prospects was compounded by a desire to get there as quickly as possible. They borrowed money, mortgaged their property, and spent their life savings to make the arduous journey. Some made their fortunes, but many did not.
Most began their journey in the Eastern U.S. and departed via three routes:
- By ship to Central America, followed by a land crossing at the Isthmus of Panama, and then another ship to San Francisco (three to five months in 1850).
- By ship around Cape Horn in South America and on to San Francisco (five to eight months).
- By travel westward across the plains from the U.S. or via Mexico (three to four months).
This arrival of thousands of “prospectors” transformed and accelerated the development of the territory of California (including its admission as the 31st state in 1850) within a few years. Mining camps and towns sprang up throughout the interior region, with towns of Sacramento and Stockton as the gateways to the mining areas. Numerous reports on the occurrence and mining of gold along the western side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains were written, and a number of participants later published accounts of their mining exploits.
Gold seekers mined by panning in the rivers and streams, using the flowing water through an oblong box that was rocked back and forth, to carry off the lighter sediments. High-pressure hydraulic hoses were later used to wash gold from hillsides. Eventually, dredging of the larger rivers was undertaken, and underground mines were dug to reach the gold ore. Gold mining in California reached its peak production in 1852, and gradually declined thereafter.
How to Use this Reading List
This reading list was compiled to give you an opportunity to learn more about the history of the California Gold Rush. A number of the articles were published in the 1800s and early 1900s – when many classical gem deposits of historical importance were discovered – and gemology and mineralogy became sciences. The list is presented in chronological order to emphasize the development of ideas over time. The list is not comprehensive, but a compilation of the some interesting gemological information that has often been forgotten or overlooked.
Many of the articles exist in the public domain and can be found online at digital libraries such as Hathitrust, Internet Archive, or other digital repositories. More recent publications can often be found in libraries, including the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library. Abstracts of these articles can usually be found on the website of the original journal or magazine, and the article itself is often available for purchase from the publisher.
Regarding the GIA library’s holdings and on-site access, please contact the GIA library in Carlsbad.
Gold, Gold, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 4, No. 1, p. 2, (1848). An early report about six months after the event “of the discovery of an immense bed of gold one hundred miles in extent, on the American Fork and Feather rivers”.
The Golden Land, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 4, No. 13, p. 98, (1848). “A short time ago, the most flattering accounts were received in this city from California about the mountains of gold and the valleys flowing with silver. Some believed it was a joke, while others believed it to be a ‘hue and cry’ for some speculative purpose, and to the latter implication we must plead guilty. We believed that the accounts received here a short time ago about vessels being deserted by their crews and houses by their inhabitants, who had proceeded to the El Dorado valley, were all a hoax or something worse. But it seems, after all, that Madam Rumor sometimes tells true tales. The golden hills of California it seems are not imaginary elevations, but bona fide treasure houses.”
Gold and Gold Washings, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 4, No. 15, p. 114, (1848). “The gold region of California is said to extend on both sides of the Sierra Nevada as far south as the headwaters of the San Joaquin River – a distance of 400 miles in length and 100 in breadth.” A short description of how the gold is found and mined is provided.
California Gold, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 4, No. 18, p. 141, (1849). “The gold excitement is as strong in our city as ever. In one day last week ten vessels sailed from this port.” The report mentions many different types of people are traveling to the gold fields. “It is calculated that no less than 150,000 emigrants will be on their way to California from the States in two months.”
Gold-Finding in California, Author unknown, Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, Vol. 11, No. 265, pp. 61-62, (1849). This is one of the first descriptions of the California gold rush published in Europe. Following the discovery in the spring of 1848, the area east of Sacramento became “a scene of busy gold finding, for which perhaps no parallel exists in the history of any country. One is at first tempted to suppose the whole affair a popular delusion, or a deliberate exaggeration, after a well-known transatlantic manner, but such theories are no longer tenable … As soon as it was known that gold was literally to be had for the lifting of certain parts of the country, an almost universal abandonment of the common pursuits of life took place.”
“It will remain to be seen whether this extraordinary windfall will prove of any serious permanent benefit to America or any of her citizens. History has shown that gold-finding has never yet been a permanently advantageous pursuit. If America thrives by picking up this precious metal in the wilds of California, she will be an exception from a pretty well-established rule.”
America, Author unknown, Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol. 186, (February), p. 192, (1849). A brief report about the gold rush, which begins as, “The new world, and we may add the old also, has been thrown into a whirl of excitement by the abundant discovery of surface gold on the plains of Upper California.”
The Gold-Washings of California, Author unknown, New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 85, No. 338, pp. 252-254, (1849). A discussion of a report of Edwin Bryant, a resident of San Francisco, about the future settlement of California by those who were coming to prospect for gold.
Account of the Gold Region, Author unknown, Littell’s Living Age, Vol. 20, No. 248, pp. 305-308, (1849). The account of a newspaper reporter from New Orleans who visited San Francisco and then the gold diggings around Sutter’s Mill in the summer of 1848.
The Apoplexy of Gold, Author unknown, Littell’s Living Age, Vol. 20, No. 249, p. 371, (1849). A discussion of the frenzied excitement brought on by the discovery of gold.
California Fever in England, Author unknown, Littell’s Living Age, Vol. 20, No. 249, p. 371-372, (1849). A discussion of advertisements in British newspapers for the arrangements of ships to transport fortune-seekers to California.
Observations on California, C.S. Lyman, American Journal of Science and Arts, Second Series, Vol. 7, No. 20, pp. 290-292 and 305-309, (1849). Reports from a series of letters written by the author after a visit to the gold fields in the summer and fall of 1848. A similar account by the same author appeared in Philosophical Transactions, Vol. 35, No. 238, pp. 470-474, (1849).
California, Author unknown, Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol. 186, p. 529, (1849). A brief report on the gold rush, with mention of vessels arriving the preceding months in Panama carrying large amounts of gold.
Calif[ornia] Ruin, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 4, No. 41, p. 322, (1849). The difficulties and dangers of the journey to California, and of life for those in the gold-mining camps, are described.
The Gold-Finders – A Vision of California, J.E. Carpenter, New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 86, No. 343, pp. 302-303, (1849). A poem about the gold rush.
California, Author unknown, Littell’s Living Age, Vol. 23, No. 284, pp. 152-153, (1849). “Even amidst the revolutionary heavings of Europe, we have considered the grasp which has been taken of the Pacific, to be the great event of our time.”
“Let no one think of coming to California to dig gold who is not willing to work hard, work early and work late, work in the sun and in the mud, cook his own food, wait upon himself, sleep on ‘terra firma,’ risk his health, and endure an amount of hardship…”
“Multitudes will come only to be disappointed, and will return with far fewer pence than they crossed Panama with, or doubled Cape Horn. Before young men and old men give up good situations, sell out and emigrate to California, let them count the cost, and not blindly rush into poverty when they may fancy they are rushing into a fortune.”
The California Mystery in England, Author unknown, Littell’s Living Age, Vol. 23, No. 284, pp. 153-155, (1849). “We are free to confess that our most careful researches have not, as yet, sufficed to enlighten us adequately respecting the actual conditions of that mysterious region to which the adventurous swarms of two worlds have now, for nearly a twelvemonth, been drafted. We hear of the departures of scores of vessels for San Francisco; and tide sets in the same direction, we believe, from half the harbors on the face of the globe. Yet, when we endeavor to ascertain … the prospects of this attractive province, we still find ourselves as wholly in the dark as before the first discovery of its mines.”
“It seems that the rivers and ravines do undoubtedly contain supplies of gold which may, by comparison, be described as almost inexhaustible; for the precious metal has never before, we believe, been found in such abundance, or in such purity, so near the surface of the earth.”
California News – Gold, Gold!, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 5, No. 9, p. 66, (1849). A report of the discovery of visible veins of gold in reddish quartz.
Extraordinary Discovery in California, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 5, No. 11, p. 82, (1849). A report of a discovery of underground mine workings, at a place called Murphy’s Diggings, that extend 200 feet within the mountain and were made by some ancient people.
Houses for California, Author unknown, Littell’s Living Age, Vol. 23, No. 290, pp. 450-451, (1849). “The rapid settlement of California under the influence of the gold fever has given rise to a traffic of a novel character, namely, the exportation of … buildings of every description … ready for erection upon their arrival at their destination.”
Étude Comparative des Sables Aurifères de la Californie, de la Nouvelle-Grenada et de l’Oural [Comparative Analysis of the Gold-Bearing Sands of California, New Grenada (Colombia) and the Urals (Russia)], A. Dufrénoy, Journal et Annales des Mines, Series 4, Vol. 16, pp. 111-126, (1849). A comparative study is given of three gold deposits by a famous French mining geologist.
The Gold Seeker’s Manual, Author unknown, Punch Magazine, Vol. 16, p. 64, (1849).
“What class ought to start for the Diggings: Persons who having nothing to lose, except their lives; and it would be as well they should start without these, if it were possible, as they are not unlikely to lose them in California.
Things you should not take with you to the Diggings: A level of comforts, a taste for civilization, an appetite, a conscience, a respect for other people’s throats, and a value for our own.
Things you will find useful at the Diggings: A revolving pistol, some knowledge of treating gun-shot wounds, a toleration of strange bed-fellows, a determination to hold your own, and grab at everyone else’s, and the power of eating, drinking, and wearing gold-dust.
The sort of society that you will meet with at the Diggings: Those for whom the United States are not big enough; those for whom England is too hot; those who come to clean out the gold, and those who come to clean out the gold-finders.
What is the best thing to do when you get to the Diggings: Go back again.
How gold may best be extracted: By supplying, at exorbitant prices, the wants of those who gather it.”
On the California Gold Region, C.S. Lyman, Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, Vol. 48, No. 95, pp. 151-157, (1850). The author describes the topography and occurrence of gold.
Gold Region of California, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 5, No. 29, p. 226, (1850). The gold region is described as covering an area of “between four and five hundred miles long, and forty to fifty miles broad, following the line of the Sierra Nevada.” The occurrence of gold is also discussed.
Crystallized Gold from California, F. Alger, American Journal of Science, Vol. 60, No. 28, pp. 101-106, (1850). The article presents a description of some remarkable gold crystals, the largest being 0.75 inches across. The exact origin of the crystals is uncertain, but they had been purchased from various individuals returning to San Francisco from the mining areas. A presentation given on Dec. 3, 1850 by the author is summarized in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 2, pp. 246-250, (1852).
State and Prospects of California, Author unknown, Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, Vol. 14, No. 340, pp. 11-15, (1850). The author describes the early years of the gold rush, including the routes to California, and the situation in the mining camps.
California – The Gold Hunters, Author unknown, Eclectic Magazine, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 289-301, (1850). This article summarizes books published by two individuals who worked in the California gold fields in 1849 and published their experiences as gold hunters.
The Age of Gold, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 6, No. 20, p. 155, (1851). The development of California as the result of the gold rush is described. The population of less than 5,000 in 1846 had risen to almost half a million, with ships coming to and going from San Francisco to all parts of the world. “The history of the world presents nothing to be compared with the rapidity of progress, and the development of the resources of the Pacific Coast.”
The Age of Gold, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 7, No. 52, p. 410, (1852). “The discovery of gold in California has exerted, and is exerting, a powerful influence on the destiny of nations.”
On the Gold Regions of California, J.S. Wilson, Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 308-321, (1854). Based a residence of nearly three years in the gold fields, the author describes the occurrence of gold at a number of locations along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
Geology – Gold, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 10, No. 7, p. 51, (1854). Some ideas on the geologic origin of gold in California are described.
California through English Eyes, Author unknown, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 11, No. 61, pp. 18-33, (1855). This is a summary of a book written by an Englishman about his experiences traveling to California and through different areas of the state.
Observations on the Extent of the Gold Region of California and Oregon, W.P. Blake, American Journal of Science and Arts, Ser. 2, Vol. 70, No. 58, pp. 72-85, (1855). The author, a geologist, provides one of the first geological descriptions on the gold region of California. The same article was published in the Mining Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 1 (July), pp. 32-45, (1855).
Mines and Mining in California, J.B. Trask, Mining Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 193-215, (1855). This article presents a technical description of placer gold mining in the state.
Mining for Gold in California, Author unknown, Hutchings’ California Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp- 2-14, (1857). This article presents a description of the mining tools and methods used to find and recover gold.
“What enchanting visions of the good to be accomplished – of the pleasures to be enjoyed – of the greatness to be achieved – or the triumphs to be won, influenced [the adventurer’s] decision and turned his thoughts and footsteps towards the Land of Gold. No wonder that his impressions were somewhat vague, and his knowledge limited and indefinite; as but little was then known of the country, manner of living, the labor required, or methods in use for working the mines. Even to this day, with all that has been written, and all the pictorial illustrations which have been published, those who have not actually visited the mines, have but a very incorrect conception of what they are, or how they are worked.”
The Discovery of Gold in California, Author unknown, Hutchings’ California Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 5, pp. 193-202, (1857). Personal accounts of the discovery of gold that were written by John Sutter and James Marshall.
Die Placeres und Goldführenden Gänge Californiens [The Placers and Gold-Bearing Rocks of California], Ramdohr, (first name unknown) and C.F. Riehn, Zeitschrift für das Berg-, Hütten- und Salinenwesen in dem Preussischen Staate, Vol. 4, pp. 104-132, (1857). The authors provide a description of the gold placers and deposits.
California Gold, A.P. Molitor, Hutchings’ California Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 5, pp. 212-217, (1859). The author provides a description of the gold as it is typically found in California.
How We Got Gold in California, by a Miner in the Year ’49, W.V. Wells, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 20, No. 119, pp. 598-616, (1860). A description of the methods used to recover gold in California during the decade following its discovery.
Terrains Aurifères de la Californie [Gold-Bearing Terrains of California], P. Laur, Revue des Deux Mondes, Vol. 43, pp. 453-472, (1863). This article discusses the exploitation and recovery of gold in California. A summary in English of the article was published in the Mechanic’s Magazine, Vol. 78, (13 February), pp. 112-114 and (6 March), pp. 169-172, (1863).
California Mining in 1862, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 8, No. 9, p. 135, (1863). Due to the changing occurrence of the deposits, several innovations for gold mining and recovery are discussed, including the use of hydraulic-pressure hoses, amalgamating with mercury and blasting.
Gold-Mining in California, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 10, No. 8, p. 118, (1864). Innovations in gold mining methods and equipment are briefly described.
“Gold Mines and Mining in California,” J.S. Hittell, G. and G.E. Desbarats, Quebec, 45 pp., (1864). This short book contains a description of the methods used to recover gold in California.
Les Placers de la Californie [The Placers of California], L. Simonin, Revue des Cours Scientifiques de la France et de l’Étranger, Vol. 4, No. 20, pp. 311-318, (1867). A description of placer gold mines in California.
Gold Mining in California, Author unknown, Scientific American, Vol. 18, No. 13, pp. 194-195, (1868). The mining of gold along ancient buried riverbeds is discussed. Sometimes the gold-bearing sediments were so compacted that the ore had to first be crushed to recover the gold.
Gold in California, J.A. Phillips, Quarterly Journal of Science, Vol. 5, (July), pp. 314-323, (1868). A description of the occurrences of gold, which extend along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, from the Tejon Pass in the south to the northerly end of the state, is presented.
Notes on the Chemical Geology of the Goldfields of California, J.A. Phillips, London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, Ser. 4, Vol. 36, No. 244, pp. 321-336, and No. 245, p. 422-438, (1868). A description of the gold fields, based on the author’s visits to the region.
Charakterbilder aus den kalifornischen Goldgegenden [Character Sketches of the California Gold Areas], L. Simonin, Charakterbilder der Erd- une Völkerkunde, Vol. 1, pp. 186-192, (1868). This article presents a number of illustrations of California and life in the gold fields.
Die Goldlagerstätten Californiens [The California Gold Deposits], D. Burkhart, Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geologie, und Palaeontologie, pp. 21-50 and 128-182, (1870). A geologic description of the alluvial gold deposits.
A Gold-Digger’s Story, G. Fullerton, Temple Bar, Vol. 28, (February), pp. 349-358, (1870). A poem about the gold rush.
Hydraulic Mining in California, Author unknown, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 19, No. 10, pp. 145-146, No. 11, pp. 161-163, No. 12, pp. 181-183, No. 14, pp. 221-223, No. 15, pp. 241-243, No. 16, pp. 265-266, (1875). Illustrations and descriptions of the hydraulic methods used in California for recovering gold, presented in several installments.
Hydraulic Mining in California, A.J. Bowie, Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, Vol. 6, (May), pp. 27-100, (1877). This article presents a detailed description of the hydraulic mining of gold in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
The Reminiscences of a Gold-Hunter, W.H. Thomes, Ballou’s Monthly Magazine, Vol. 56, No. 3, pp. 213-225, (1882). The experiences of a group of individuals from New England who purchased a ship to take them to the California gold fields.
Gold and California, T. Donaldson, International Review, Vol. 13, (October), pp. 309-321, (1882). The author discusses the economic and social effects of the gold rush on the development of California.
Hydraulic Mining in California, T. Evans, Century Magazine, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 325-338, (1883). The use of hydraulic and other mining techniques to recover gold in California is discussed by the author.
Ueber die Goldgewinnung in Californien [About the Gold Recovery in California], E. Reyer, Zeitschrift für das Berg-, Hütten- und Salinenwesen in dem Preussischen Staate, Vol. 34, pp. 1-28, (1886). The article presents a review of gold mining in the state.
Old Times in California, W.T. Sherman, North American Review, Vol. 148, No. 388, pp. 269-279, (1889). The author, who later became a famous general in the American Civil War, served as a military officer in California in the late 1840s and was part of the military governor’s inspection that officially confirmed that gold was discovered in 1848. In this article, he describes the early history of the state and the gold discovery.
Life in California Before the Gold Discovery, J. Bidwell, Century Magazine, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 163-183, (1890), and Frémont in the Conquest of California, Century Magazine, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 518-525, (1891). These two articles by the same author give a description of the history of California in the 1840s by an individual who arrived there in 1841.
The Discovery of Gold in California, J.S. Hittell, Century Magazine, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 525-536 (1891). A recounting of the history of the gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill, based on historical records of the individuals involved.
The Conquest of California, J.C. Frémont, Century Magazine, Vol. 41, No. 6, pp. 917-928, (1891). The famous explorer recounts the history of the state in the 1840s.
Californiana, E.C. Kemble, Century Magazine, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 537-539, (1891). First-hand accounts of the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill.
Geology of the Mother Lode Gold Belt, H.W. Fairbanks, American Geologist, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 209-222, (1891). A geological description of the gold fields.
Pioneer Mining in California, E.G. Waite, Century Magazine, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 127-141, (1891). A description of gold mining by an individual who participated in the gold rush.
Cape Horn and Cooperative Mining in ’49, W.B. Farwell, Century Magazine, Vol. 42, No. 4, pp. 579-594, (1891). This article describes a joint stock company formed by 150 individuals in New England to purchase a ship that would take them around Cape Horn to the California gold fields.
The Old California Prospector, D. de Quille, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 52, No. 20, pp. 56-568, (1891). The recollections of gold prospectors from the 1850s and 1860s.
To California by Panama in ’49, J.H. Pratt, Century Magazine, Vol. 41, No. 6, pp. 901-917, (1891). The author describes an ocean trip from New York City to Central America, an overland trek across the Isthmus of Panama, and then a voyage by ship north to San Francisco and the gold fields.
California’s Discovery of Gold in 1841, J. Murray, Overland Monthly, Ser. 2, Vol. 19, No. 113, 524-529, (1892). The author, a bank employee in New York, describes reports of small amounts of gold being deposited that had been found in Southern California in 1841, several years before the official discovery north of Sacramento in 1848.
Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada, H.W. Turner, American Geologist, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 371-379, (1895). The author presents a geological description of the gold-bearing gravels along the slopes of the Sierra Nevada.
Characteristic Features of California Gold-Quartz Veins, W. Lindgren, Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 221-240, (1895). This article gives a geological description of the gold-quartz vein deposits.
The Age of the Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada, W. Lindgren, Journal of Geology, Vol. 4, No. 8, pp. 881-906, (1896). This study attempts to determine the geologic age of the gold-bearing gravels in relation to other rocks of the Sierra Nevada.
The year 1898 marked the semi-centennial of the discovery of gold by James Marshall 50 years previously. A number of articles were published that year to celebrate the historic event.
California’s Jubilee – The Semi-Centennial of Gold, S.G. Wilson, Overland Monthly, Vol. 31, No. 182, pp. 165-170, (1898). This article describes the efforts of the Society of California Pioneers to conserve information and materials related to the history of the state and the important role gold miners from 1849 played in the organization.
The Discovery of Gold in California, M. Bellamy, Overland Monthly, Vol. 31, No. 182, pp. 161-164, (1898). The author describes events associated with the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Sawmill.
Early Days on the Golden Yuba, H.L. Wells, Pacific Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 261-263, (1898). Recollections of gold mining along the Yuba River in California.
Mining for Gold in the Auriferous Gravels of California, U.S.A., G.K. Radford, Transactions of the Institution of Mining Engineers, Vol. 17, (26 May), pp. 452-481, (1899). This article presents a detailed description of the mining methods used in California to recover gold from gravel sediments.
Origin and Age of Certain Gold “Pocket” Deposits in Northern California, O.H. Hershey, American Geologist, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 38-43, (1899). The author describes the geologic setting of gold deposits in Trinity County in northern California. A summary of this article by the same author appeared in Mining and Scientific Press, Vol. 101, No. 23, pp. 741-742, (1910).
Gold-Bearing Lodes of the Sierra Costa Mountains in California, O.H. Hershey, American Geologist, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 76-96, (1900). A description of the mining region in the Klamath Mountains in northwestern California.
The Mother Lode Region of California, W.H. Storms, California State Mining Bureau, No. 18, 154 pp., (1900). This publication provides a detailed description of the Mother Lode gold belt along the western side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Observations on Mother Lode Gold-Deposits, California, W.A. Prichard, Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, Vol. 34, pp. 454-466, (1904). The author describes gold deposits that stretch 100 miles or more in length through Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.
The Eldorado of the Great West, A. Williams, The Romance of Mining, C.A. Pearson Ltd., London, pp.44-68, (1905). In this chapter from a book, the author presents a description of the history and development of gold mining operations in California.
Largest Hydraulic Gold Mine in the World, H.H. Livingston, Technical World Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 5, pp. 537-541, (1906). A report of a hydraulic mine in Trinity County, California.
Gold-Dredging Practice in California, R. Sibley, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 85, No. 22, pp. 1083-1088, (1908). A description of dredging for gold along the Yuba and other rivers in California.
Possibilities of the Mother Lode in Depth, W.H. Storms, Engineering and Scientific Press, Vol. 102, No. 21, pp. 646-648, (1911). Discussion of the possibility of rich primary gold deposits along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
The Tertiary Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California, W. Lindgren, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, No. 733, 226 pp., (1911). The geologic origin and distribution of gold along the Sierra Nevada is discussed in this professional paper. A summary of the article is presented in Science Magazine, Vol. 44, No. 1141, pp. 686-687, (1916).
Dredging for Gold in California, L.H. Eddy, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 92, No. 2, pp. 65-69, (1911). The dredging of placer deposits occurs mainly in Butte, Yuba, and Sacramento counties.
The California Gold Dredge, R.E. Cranston, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 93, No. 7, pp. 359-363, No. 8, pp. 417-420, No. 9, pp. 455-458, and No. 10, pp. 507-511, (1912). The author describes the dredging techniques used in California rivers.
Northern California Gold Dredging, L.H. Eddy, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 93, No. 12, pp. 607-610, (1912). This is a short report on gold dredging in Siskiyou County.
The Mother Lode Region, California, L.H. Eddy, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 95, No. 8, pp. 405-410, (1913). The author describes the Mother Lode region, which is about 70 miles long and three to six miles wide, and extends in a northwest direction across five counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Marshall’s Discovery of Gold, R.B. Mason, Overland Monthly, Vol. 68, No. 6, pp. 479-491, (1916). A republication of the official government report of a visit in the summer of 1848 to the gold placer mines in California.
Gold Mining in California, G.J. Young, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 109, No. 7, pp. 439-447, (1920). The author reviews the status of gold mining in the state, which was experiencing a decline in drift, placer and hydraulic mining.
Largest Capacity Gold-Mining Dredge in the World, H.G. Peake, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 109, No. 20, pp. 1106-1109, (1920). A description of a large dredge operating in Trinity County.
James W. Marshall, Discoverer of Gold, P.B. Bekeart, Society of California Pioneers Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 3-43, (1924). Publication not seen.
Discovery of Gold in California, T.A. Rickard, University of California Chronicle, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 141-169, (1928). Publication not seen.
Gold – The Key to the West, H. Dye, Overland Monthly, Vol. 86, No. 6, pp. 176 and 190, (1928). The discovery of gold in 1847 in California was a principal event in the development of the western part of the United States.
The Mother Lode System of California, A. Knopf, US Geological Survey Professional Paper, No. 157, 88 pp., (1929). This professional paper describes the geological setting of the Mother Lode.
The Mother Lode Country, O.P. Jenkins, (Ed.), California Division of Mines Bulletin, No. 141, 164 pp., (1948). A geologic guidebook to locations along State Highway 49, which runs along the Mother Lode gold belt.
The Discovery of Gold in California, D.C. Cutter, California Geology, Vol. 34, No. 6, pp. 125-128, (1981). This short article summarizes gold discoveries in California.
Gold Mining Activity in California, R.C. Loyd, D. Bane, California Geology, Vol. 34, No. 8, pp. 169-174, (1981). The authors provide a review of gold production from 1848 until 1980.
History of Mining and Milling Methods in California, C.A. Logan, California Geology, Vol. 34, No. 9, pp. 193-196, (1981). This article describes the mining methods used to recover gold from placers and quartz veins.
California Gold, W. Leicht, D. Leicht, Lapidary Journal, Vol. 44, No. 12, pp. 26-48, (1991). This article contains photographs of some of the most famous gold specimens found in California, and information on the mines where they were found.
A Glimpse of Life in the Gold Country, J. Doble, California Geology, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 104-115, (1994). This article presents excerpts of a journal kept by a New Yorker who traveled to California and worked in the gold field in the early 1850s.
Specimen Gold Mines of California: An Overview of Notable Localities and Specimens, W. Leicht and D. Leicht, Rocks & Minerals, Vol. 69, No. 6, pp. 371-378, (1994). This article contains photographs of a number of spectacular California gold specimens.
Mining the Malakoff: An Overview, R. Peterson, International California Mining Journal, Vol. 65, No. 9, pp. 43-48, (1996). The Malakoff Diggings, located near Nevada City, operated between 1851 and 1884, was the largest and richest hydraulic gold mine in the world.
The Ironic Tragedy of James Marshall, Author unknown, International California Mining Journal, Vol. 66, No. 5, pp. 18-23, (1997). The individual who discovered gold at Sutter’s Sawmill in 1848 never benefited from the California gold rush, and died largely forgotten and in poverty in 1885.
California’s Gold Rush, S. Clamage, International California Mining Journal, Vol. 67, No. 8, pp. 5-10, (1998). The author describes the early years of the gold rush, and the changes it brought about in California.
Mining the Mother Lode and the Northern Mines, R.H. Peterson, International California Mining Journal, Vol. 67, No. 8, pp. 40-44, (1998). While the gold rush started out “as an adventure in individual enterprise,” within a few years “it passed through a number of evolutionary states designed to maximize industrial production and profit.” In this article, the author traces the development of gold mining methods.
Dr. James Shigley is a distinguished research fellow at the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California.