5-10 The Gold Rush

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The Gold Rush

  On January 24, 1848 a man by the name of James W. Marshall saw little flakes of dull yellow metal in a California river while building a sawmill for a man named John A. Sutter.  It was gold!  News of the discovery spread quickly across the country and across the sea.  Up until this time white settlers made slow, unsteady progress in their efforts to move west.  Soon thousands of Americans, as well as people from other countries, headed to California.  They all had dreams of striking it rich.  The Gold Rush had begun!  Most of the miners reached California in the year 1849, so they were called "forty-niners."

  Most forty-niners prospected (looked for gold) by sifting soil in a pan or sieve.  Some found gold and became rich.  Many more found only misery.  Shopkeepers charging high prices for food and supplies were cheating the people out of their money.  Forty-niners were paying excessive amounts of money for a loaf of bread, or a box to live in.  Small shantytowns along the river were homes to many of these people.  Some forty-niners kept looking, but other returned home penniless.


Answer the questions below

1. Gold was discovered in the state of .


2. James W. Marshall was building a near a river.


3. Forty-niners searched for gold by sifting soil in a pan or .


4. Most miners arrived in the year


5. To "prospect" means to

search for gold.

head west.

build a sawmill.


6. The Gold Rush began on January 24, .

7. Where did people come from in search of gold?
other countries and the United States

only from other countries

only from the eastern part of the United States

8. Forty-niners were cheated out of their money by
the owner of the sawmill.

James W. Marshall.


9. The first gold looked like of dull yellow metal.



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