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"Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!"

The  discovery of gold on January 24, 1848 by James Marshall at Sutter's Sawmill on the South Fork of the American River started a bonanza that brought California global fame and gave it the title of the "Golden State".  "Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!", shouted Sam Brannan as he paraded through the streets of San Francisco waving a small bottle of gold dust he had purchased at John Sutter's Fort. That calculated and flamboyant proclamation in the spring of 1848 started the news of California's gold discovery on a race around the world. The Gold Rush of 1849 and the subsequent influx of settlers led to California becoming the 31st state of the Union in 1850.

Sutter's Mill,1852 - image 

Gold Discovery - "The Discovery of Gold in California"  is a classic account of the early events associated with the gold discovery and mining in California. It was written in celebration of the Centennial of the Discovery of Gold in California , 1848 -1948, by Donald C. Cutter as part of California Division of Mines Bulletin 141, "Geologic Guidebook Along Highway 49 - The Mother Lode Country." The article has been updated with informative hyperlinks and digital images for the modern reader. 
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Gold Specimen from California - image 

Gold State Icon - California State Mineral - State legislation signed on April 23,1965 designated native gold as California's official state mineral. At the signing ceremony Governor Edmund G. Brown said, "Selection of gold as our state mineral is acknowledgement of the intimate part it has played in the history of our people and of the fact that mining is a major California economic activity." 
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Gold Pans and Placer Gold - image by Max Flanery 

Gold Prospecting -  With a gold pan, some practice, and a little research to select a favorable area prospectors still have a reasonable chance at successfully finding gold or "color" in California streams. CGS offers many publications that aid the modern prospector or the weekend recreation gold seeker. These two may be downloaded:
Hints for Gold Prospectors (CGS Note 24-PDF)
Placer Gold Recovery Methods,
by M.A. Silva, 1986,  (SP 87-PDF, 5.8 MB)
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Gold Coins from California - image 

Historic Gold Mines - In recognition of the California Gold Discovery to Statehood Sesquicentennial (1998-2000) CGS produced the "Map of California Historic Gold Mines" (MM 009) as a poster at the scale of 1:1,500,000. The map shows the location of 13,500 historic California gold mines.  This poster sells for $8.00 flat/rolled.  To order, click here.
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Gold Mine, Sutter Creek, Ca. - image 

Active Gold Mines - Map of California Active Gold Mines 2000-2001 -  In the years 2000 through 2001California had 16 significant active gold mines in operation.  About half of them were located in the historic Mother Lode Belt. Some areas depicted on the map may not be currently operational, but the resources may still be present.
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Gold Nuggets from Callifornia - image 

Historic Gold Mine Photographs - The Department of Conservation, California Geological Survey Library has made available 300 images of scanned black and white photographs of gold mines in California. Entitled "California Gold Mines: A Sesquicentennial Photograph Collection," this CD-ROM features images of photographs taken from 1852  to 1984 which capture many aspects of gold mining throughout California's history.
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Gold on Quartz - Courtesy of Mike Hoffman, Calaveras Co. 

Photographs of California Minerals and Mines - The California Department of Conservation (DOC), California Geological Survey (CGS) has made available approximately 1000 scanned photographic images of minerals and mines in California. These images, along with informative text, have been placed on a CD-ROM entitled California Minerals and Mines (DMG CD 2001-01).  Click on image for larger view.