$39.95 – $79.95
Birdseye view of Coloma, California 1857 by Kuchel & Dresel.
What happened at Coloma on January 24, 1848, changed the whole course of history. From that day on, the words ‘California’ and ‘Gold’ were forever linked, while from every quarter of the globe men raced to join in the human avalanche we know as the Gold Rush. The year before Johann August Sutter, lord of New Helvetia and pioneer settler in the wilderness of the Sacramento valley where he had established himself in August, 1839, had entered into a partnership with millwright James Wilson Marshall for the purpose of building a sawmill on the south fork of the American river in order to supply lumber for his numerous undertakings. In the late fall of 1847 Marshall with his fellow workers reached the chosen location and began operations. The mill rose on the spot indicated by the sign in this lithograph, and by the end of January neared completion. Marshall had difficulty with the millrace. In order to enlarge it, he allowed the water of the river to flow through it during the night, shutting it off each morning so that the Indians employed by him could throw out the loosened boulders. Examining the result of his deepening method on the morning of January 24, 1848, he noticed glittering particles in the ditch and clambered down into it to find out what they were. This was the discovery that soon brought gold-mad miners of every nationality to the spot, built the town of Coloma and sent thousands into foothills of the Sierra to find new diggings, create new settlements and open California’s golden era.