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Last updated: 07/06/2020 09:42:54

Common gold questions

Why were there so few easterners involved in the California gold rush?

Although many individuals from the east coast of America joined the California gold rush, many failed to reach their destination, often victims of disease and malnutrition.

When the California Gold Rush began after the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, there was a huge shift in the labour force of California. People who had settled in the California territory to start new lives as farmers left their agricultural ventures behind in search of the wealth promised by gold. One would suppose that those on the Eastern shores of the United States would have followed suit and headed west to pursue their fortunes as well.

While many individuals from the East did just that, their numbers were relatively small due to the simple logistics of travel at that time. Without the modern conveniences of planes and automobiles, there was simply no easy way to get to the West. Those who did attempt the dangerous journey to California traveled by both sea and land to make the trip.

The first adventurers to attempt the journey to California were called Argonauts and their path led them to travel by sea, around the tip of South America, to reach California's shores anywhere from five to eight months after their journey had begun. The voyages were perilous and those who traveled by the ships of the time were often plagued by disease and malnutrition. Many of the Argonauts who set out on this voyage of 33,000 kilometers would never reach their destination.

A second route for the sea faring adventures led them down the East coast to the Isthmus of Panama. Upon reaching Panama, the adventurers would trade in their sea legs for a week long trek through the steamy jungles via mules and canoes to reach the Pacific coast of Panama. Upon reaching the Pacific coast, they would board another ship and head North to the shores of California. Once again, the voyage was fraught with perils of shipwreck and diseases, such as Typhoid Fever and Malaria.

A third route to the California territory was crossing overland through the continental United States. This path was a hard trail where many adventurers gave up along the way and established settlements in the Mid-West or died en route to their destinations, the victims of disease, injuries and attacks by bandits and Indians.

Read more common gold questions.

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