Return to Gold Fever Gold Fever! The Lure and Legacy of the California Gold Rush
Introduction
Lure of Gold
Stepping Back
California
Discovery
First Finds
The News
World on the Eve
Across Land
By Sea

Gold Fever Part II


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California on the Eve

Portrait of General John A. Sutter, 1856The Gold Rush dramatically affected California's environment, but much had been changed well before 1848. Primeval California was a unique and extraordinarily diverse natural environment, with a remarkable range of geography and geology, of plants and animals, of weather and natural resources. California had been inhabited or visited by many different people before gold was discovered. Each new group of people brought its own system of values.

Maidu Cooking Basket Flicker Band

They related differently to the beauty of California and its immense bounty of natural resources. Each saw a different kind of "gold" to be reaped from the land. They also related differently to each other. California Indians had been here for more than ten thousand years.

Andres PicoThey encountered successive waves of explorers, would-be colonizers, and immigrants, including Spanish missionaries, Mexican and Californio rancheros, Russian hunters, and American trappers, traders and farmers. Who was a Californian? And what did California mean to them?

Top: Portrait of General John A. Sutter, 1856, Collection of Oakland Museum of California
Middle Left: Maidu Cooking Baske
t, Collection of Oakland Museum of California
Middle Right: Flicker Band,
Collection of Oakland Museum of California
Bottom: Andres Pico,
Collection of Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Nature | Californio | California Indian

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