It was January 1848. A man was digging
near the small village of San Francisco, California. Suddenly, he saw something
By the next year the California gold
rush had begun. Thousands of men came to California. They were called "forty-niners,"
after the year 1849. The forty-niners came from all around the United States.
They even came from other countries, including Mexico, Australia, China,
France, and England. They left their families and jobs, and made the difficult
trip to California. They all shared a dream. They all wanted to make a fortune
Towns and camps grew quickly wherever
gold was found. These towns were rough places. There was almost always a
saloon, where the men drank whiskey and gambled at cards. In mining towns, men
stole and sometimes killed for gold.
Did the miners make their fortune? Some
did, especially those who came early and were lucky. In 1848, miners usually
made about twenty dollars a day. In 1852 miners made about six dollars a day.
Many other people came to California to make money from the miners. Prices were
very high. A loaf of bread, which cost five cents in New York, cost almost a
dollar in San Francisco.
In 1848 San Francisco had been a
village. Six years later it was a city with a population of 50,000. In 1850
California had enough people to become a state.