35 photos
California Gold Rush

In the cold morning hours of January 24, 1848, James Marshall, a construction foreman at Sutter’s Mill, was inspecting the water flow through the mill’s tail race. The sawmill, on the banks of the American River in Coloma, California, was owned by John A. Sutter, who desperately needed lumber for the building of a large flour mill. On that particular morning, Marshall not only found the water to be flowing adequately through the mill, but also spied a shiny object twinkling in the frigid stream. Stooping to pick it up, he looked with awe at a pea-sized gold nugget lying within his hand.

He immediately went to visit Elizabeth Jane "Jennie" Wimmer, the camp cook and laundress, who had grown up in a prospecting family.

Ms. Wimmer used a lye soap solution overnight to verify that the 1/3 ounce nugget Marshall had found was true gold. Dubbing it the Wimmer Nugget, which was later appraised at $5.12, Marshall gave it to her on a necklace. It would later be displayed at the Columbian Exposition of 1893.

Columbia, CA - Mining, 1866

Columbia, CA - Mining, 1866

Placerville, CA - 1860s

Placerville, CA - 1860s

Placerville, CA - 1866

Placerville, CA - 1866

Coloma, CA - James Marshall at Sutter's Mill

Coloma, CA - James Marshall at Sutter's Mill

Coloma, CA - Sutter's Mill

Coloma, CA - Sutter's Mill

Coloma, CA - Sutter's Mill Historic Drawing

Coloma, CA - Sutter's Mill Historic Drawing

Bodie. CA - Standard Mine & Mill, vintage

Bodie. CA - Standard Mine & Mill, vintage

Bodie. CA - Standard Mine and Mill Interior, vintage

Bodie. CA - Standard Mine and Mill Interior, vintage

Bodie. CA - Standard Mine and Mill today.

Bodie. CA - Standard Mine and Mill today.

Bodie. CA - Standard Mine Buildings

Bodie. CA - Standard Mine Buildings

Calico, CA - Maggie Mine

Calico, CA - Maggie Mine

Calico, CA - Maggie Mine - 2

Calico, CA - Maggie Mine - 2

California Gold Mining, 1871

California Gold Mining, 1871

California Miners in front of stagecoach, 1894

California Miners in front of stagecoach, 1894

Gold panning

Gold panning

Miners pioneer ten commandments of 1849, W.R. Bennett, 1887

Miners pioneer ten commandments of 1849, W.R. Bennett, 1887

Miners prospecting, 1880s

Miners prospecting, 1880s

Mining Camp

Mining Camp

Pack mule, 1871

Pack mule, 1871

Placer Mining, 1866

Placer Mining, 1866