​​"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. 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."

Gold Specimen from California - image

Gold State Icon - California State Mineral (PDF) - 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."

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 finding gold or "color" in California streams. CGS offers many publications to aid the modern prospector or recreational gold seeker.

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 (PDF) (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.

Web page by:
California Geological Survey - Mineral Resources Program

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