Gold Country is a region that spans more than 100 miles along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter's sawmill along the American River. Word quickly spread to the east with tales of easy riches just waiting to be plucked off the ground. This prompted a massive and expedient migration to the west in what is now known as the '1849 Gold Rush'. Very few gained the wealth that was expected and instead found hardship and struggle in the many shanty towns that popped up along the Sierra foothills. After most of the gold was panned, sluiced, mined and stripped from the hills, many of these '49ers' either returned back home or headed to San Francisco for city life and stable income.
The discovery of gold in California's Sierra Nevada foothills was made in Coloma, just a few miles from Plymouth, CA. The California gold rush of 1849 changed forever the face of the US west coast.
Photo Credit: "John Stone with Gold Mining Pan" ca. 1939. California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties. Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell, Library of Congress.
While we are sure to believe there is mineral gold in the hills of California's "Gold County", the true value is located in the culture and history of the location. North Central California has 12 counties that make up the Gold Country. A majority of these counties are settled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and are sprinkled with attractively old fashioned towns that have survived from the Gold Rush days.
On the 24th of January in 1848, James W. Marshall saw the glitter of metal in a drained area of Sutter's sawmill in what is present day Coloma, California, spawning the historic Gold Rush. The new territory of California's population boomed in 1849, increasing by 90,000. Prospectors came from virtually all over the globe dreaming of becoming rich instantly simply by pulling nuggets of gold from the ground. Actually, only a handful saw their vision of golden riches become a reality. The real winners of the Gold Rush were the companies that provided supplies and services to the prospectors.