Test Your Knowledge: The California Gold Rush


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About This Quiz

The gold rush sparked an epic stampede into the unknown countryside. How much do you know about California's gold-fueled insanity?

What was the name of the worker who first found gold flecks in water near a sawmill?

He almost immediately realized that he'd found minerals of great importance.

What was the approximate purity of the first gold found during the rush?

That would make it 23-karat gold.

Why did James W. Marshall have to leave the land where he was building a sawmill?

His land was overrun by frenzied wannabe prospectors.

What is considered the first year of the California gold rush?

Gold was found near Coloma, California, and the word spread very quickly.

Where was the first gold rush in American history?

It happened five decades before the one in California.

Which professionals made the most money from the gold rush?

They provided the goods necessary for life on the frontier.

Why were gold rush prospectors called "Forty-Niners?"

And many of them did not last much longer than 1850.

About how many people made it to California in 1849 to begin seeking their fortunes?

Perhaps a third of them came from other countries.

In which year did the gold rush hit its peak in terms of production?

By 1855 it was over for most people.

Which type of rock often contained substantial amounts of gold?

"Hard-rock" mining was harder work but ultimately yielded the greatest amounts of gold.

Roughly how many people turned up in California for the gold rush?

It was a lot of folks; the pre-rush population of San Francisco was fewer than 1,000 people.

What was San Francisco's population two years after the gold rush started?

It was phenomenal growth for a town that started with maybe 1,000 people.

About how many tons of gold were found using hydraulic mining?

The technique involved blasting hillsides with jets of water and then sifting through the debris.

When did California officially become a state?

The gold rush caused a rush to statehood.

What was the pre-rush population of Native Americans in California?

They had many traditional areas that they leveraged for food and shelter.

What was the approximate population of Native Americans in California two decades after the rush?

Nearly two-thirds perished from disease, violence and other conflicts with settlers and miners.

About how many pounds of gold did prospectors find during the rush?

That amount of gold would be worth many billions of dollars today.

Why did some escaped slaves wind up in California during the gold rush?

In a lawless land, even former slaves had a chance to start over again.

Which president kicked off gold fever on the East Coast by announcing gold findings to Congress?

His proclamation added credibility to a gold rush that many people thought was fiction.

What was "claim jumping"?

To maintain a claim on a spot, prospectors had to continually work in that area, otherwise their claim was moot.

How did Sam Brannan add fuel the gold rush fire?

His public display convinced people that the gold was real.

How did Sam Brannan make his fortune once the gold rush was underway?

His foresight helped him capitalize on prospectors, and he became a millionaire.

During the peak gold craze, how much might a miner spend for coffee, in today's dollars?

Supplies on the frontier were scarce … and extraordinarily expensive.

How did California legislators help to drive out foreign miners?

A tax of $20 made it nearly impossible for foreigners to afford mining in the area.

The first gold mining colony eventually became known as what?

It boomed from a camp to a city in just a few years.

How long did it take to sail from the East Coast to San Francisco?

The overland journey wasn't much easier; Northern California was a hard place to reach back then.

In 1860, long after the gold rush's peak, what percentage of the rush-era towns were female?

Most women stayed away from the rush's lawless frenzy and the ensuing aftermath.

Why were hundreds of ships left abandoned in the harbor near San Francisco?

Crews abandoned ship in the fever to find gold and become rich.

To make his fortune, what product did Levi Strauss sell to miners?

The product eventually evolved into the jeans that are so popular around the world.

What product did Levi Strauss originally plan to sell to miners?

Once he heard that the men needed tough clothing, he decided that overalls were a better choice; he was correct.

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