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California’s Gold Country
The western slopes of the Sierra Nevada hid a rich secret… until 1848. You’ve heard of the many people who flocked to the region the following year—the “Forty Niners”—to get rich. But how much do you know about what happened here?
The gold, it turned out, was a long time coming. The western portions of what’s known as “The Mother Lode” were actually sea floor, dating back 150 million years. The older portion, to the east, goes back 275 million years! Wow!
Fast-forward to the 1840s. James Marshall (whose great grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence, how’s that for history?) partnered with a guy named John Sutter to build a sawmill on the American River in a sleepy little Maidu Indian village called Cullumah.
Then, on January 24, 1848, Marshall noticed shiny material glinting in the water of the mill. Sutter’s Mill. He tried to keep the find secret, but it was no use. The land was overrun with gold-seekers. Cullumah became known as “Coloma,” and the town mushroomed to 10,000 people.
But that’s nothing. The Gold Rush was the biggest mass migration in American history. More than 300,000 people headed west to find their fortune.
Today, you can see a lot of history—and have a lot of fun—in Gold Country. There’s the preserved town of Nevada City, with its 1865 theatre, where Mark Twain once performed. There’s the Empire Mine State Historic Park, where you can see the tiny above-ground mine entrance which leads to 367 miles of underground digging! You can still pan for gold. You can explore preserved towns and historic parks. You can enjoy some of the best dining and wineries. It’s awesome.
And what about Marshall and Sutter? Believe it or not, both of them died penniless!
California’s Gold Country is one of the places you’ll learn about during Extranomical’s Ultimate Lake Tahoe Adventure. Learn more, and book your place now!