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Atlas Quest

Gold Rush Theme

California state flag
The California Flag
Largest CityLos Angeles
Official LanguageSpanish ;o)
Land Area423,970 km2 (3rd in US)
163,696 mi2
Population (1848)15,000
Population (1850)92,597
Population (1860)379,994
Population (2008)36,756,666

Having grown up in California, I heard a lot about the California Gold Rush. Exciting times, indeed! I even have fond memories of playing an old graphic adventure game called, not surprisingly, Gold Rush! So for quite some time, I’ve wanted to create an official gold rush theme. It’s an era that fascinates me to this day.

Which isn’t to say other gold rushes don’t have their fascinating aspects. The first significant gold rush in the United States was in Cabarrus County, North Carolina (east of Charlotte), in 1799 at today’s Reed’s Gold Mine. The Georgia Gold Rush followed 30 years later, during which time Matthew Stephenson allegedly coined the phrase, “Thar’s gold in them thar hills!” The Klondike Gold Rush was the last significant gold rush in the United States, whose tales were told by the likes of Robert Service and Jack London. (I’ve memorized The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill if you ever catch me around a campfire.)

AQ logo except Marjorie is panning for gold!

The California Gold Rush started January 24, 1848, when James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill, resulting in a wave of 300,000 people migrating to California. The non-native population of California swelled from 15,000 to hundreds of thousands within a few of years. The earliest gold prospectors used simple techniques such as panning to retrieve the gold, but later more sophisticated methods to recover gold such as cradles and rockers, and eventually hydraulic mining—technology that would be exported around the world.

By the late 1890s, long after the gold rush had ended, recovery efforts continued. Dredging, invented in California, became economical, and it is estimated that more than 20 million ounces were recovered with this technique (worth approximately $12 billion at November 2006 prices).

The gold rush put San Francisco and Sacramento on the map, and helped push California towards statehood in 1850.

The gold rush ended, but it altered the course of history forever.

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