The following article has been reprinted from the NEW YORK DAILY TRIBUNE, Saturday’s Evening Edition, December 9, 1848.




Gold Rush Prospectors

“Photo Courtesy of Siskiyou County Historical Museum”

The JOURNAL OF COMMERCE publishes a spirited letter from California, dated Monterey, August 29, 1848. We copy a few curious particulars:

At present the people are running over the country and picking it out of the earth here and there, just as a thousand hogs, let loose in a forest, would root up ground nuts. Some get eight or ten ounces a day, and the least active one or two. They make the most who employ the wild Indians to hunt it for them. There is one man who has sixty Indians in his employ; his profits are a dollar a minute. The wild Indians know nothing of its value, and wonder what the pale faces want to do with it; they will give an ounce of it for the same weight of coined silver, or a thimbleful of glass beads, or a glass of grog. And white men themselves often give an ounce of it, which is worth at our mint $18 or more, for a bottle of brandy, a bottle of soda powders, or a plug of tobacco.

As to the quality which the diggers get, take a few facts as evidence. I know seven men who worked seven weeks and two on Feather River; they employed on an average fifty Indians, and got out in these seven weeks and two days, 275 pounds of pure gold. I know the men and have seen the gold, and I know what they state to be a fact so stick a pin there. I know ten other men who worked ten days in company, employed no Indians, and averaged in these ten days $1,500 each; so stick another pin there. I know another man who got out of a basin in a rock, not larger than a wash bowl, two and one-half pounds of gold in fifteen minutes; so stick another pin there! Not one of these statements would I believe, did I not know the men personally, and know them to be plain matter of fact men-men who open a vein of gold just as coolly as you would a potato hill.