Gold Rush In California

Great Essays
Why did Americans in California in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries engage in unsustainable relationships with the natural world?
Americans and other immigrant’s to California were driven by the pursuit of gold and wealth which led to unsustainable relationships which they maintained with their natural environment. Having little knowledge of the natural world, they were all out to exploit the resources: Gold without any sense of its availability and implications of mining to the environment. In this paper, I will dwell into various aspects of how the gold rush shaped the future of California.
Colonization of Western North America by Europeans and Americans significantly affected native Indians by altering their natural
…show more content…
Too much water flow would obstruct access to the gold and too less water would make it impossible to separate/ wash off the impurities mixed with the gold. These unforeseeable situations in the riverine environment impeded the search for gold and search for outside capital investment to support mining in California (Isenberg 27). Although California in the 1850s produced 1/3rd gold worldwide, the region was also chronically short of it. This was one of the biggest ironies of the gold rush. By 1854 most the economy in California was credit based and by 1855 many banks closed down. The investment climate in California worsened. Californian placer mining was considered a “risky venture” by British investors. To increase their prospects, miners in the early/mid-1850s began building reservoirs/canals to control unpredictable river flow. This regularized the river waters and provided easy access to gold deposits. This attracted capital investment in California.
Although the gold rush only lasted for a few years, the long-term gold mining was driven by technology-based enterprise sustained by systematic control of California’s rivers. By the 20th century irrigation and hydropower dominated agriculture and industry. This Hydraulic West of the 20th century had its origins in the industrial landscape of 19th century California gold country. (Isenberg 30). California’s legal environment also tended towards hydraulic
…show more content…
They invested over 4 million pounds into California’s placer mines (Isenberg 35). Gold mining was considered to be one of the most important industry in California. Along with gold, hydraulic mining also gave rise to other industrial production like iron foundries in California. In the 19th century, Sacramento was one of the largest industrial centers of California. Factories here were most evidently the hub and source of most urban pollution. Solid wastes and exhaust from the iron making process were extremely hazardous as it made its way into the environment. The byproducts of factories not only affected the health of the environment but also adversely affected the health of settlers in the region. As the impacts of mining grew worse, hydraulic mining only grew more in attracting many more investments. Impacts of this kind of mining were numerous. Large amounts of timber, water canyons that flushed debris into public waterways, destroying fish and their habitats are just a few of the many impacts of hydraulic mining. Also, by 1860s the industry consumed over 1 million pounds of mercury annually, the production of which diffused toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. By the 1880s, hydraulic mining had transformed the riverine environment of Sierra and Sacramento Valley (Isenberg 50). In short, Hydraulic mining had environmental, social and health implications that

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Stories like these are far too common among men in the gold mines” (“Primary Sources). Gold never ran out, it just got harder to find over time. These prospectors thought they could spend all of their money and just hunt for more gold. Little did they know that gold would get harder to find. The American Gold Rush lasted from 1848-1857 with about 300,000 prospectors involved (“California Gold Rush.”).…

    • 1114 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Knowing that racism can be caused by fear, one today can attempt to prevent racism in the present and future by analyzing what people fear of other groups. A contemporary example of a conflict that is caused by fear today is the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which can be stopped by analyzing what the the two groups fear of each other. Although there already was racism towards non-whites before the California Gold Rush, the influx of foreign people to California caused fierce competition over gold and jobs, which led to the discrimination of non-whites who whites blamed for their struggle to find gold and…

    • 1175 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Poisonous chemical elements such as cyanide, mercury, arsenic and other toxic substances were released to the environment causing health complications to the people around. In essence, the Gold Rush brought about tangible elements of social unrest. The overall analysis of the historical significance of the content discussed in the book The gold rush is indeed a key phenomenon in the historical background of California and the regions affected. There are different dynamics involved in this historic event. The tremendous expansion of the population in California due to the huge numbers of immigrants had a great significance in shaping the culture and the economic outlook of the area.…

    • 1276 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The California Gold Rush

    • 1283 Words
    • 5 Pages

    The Gold Rush was one of the biggest events that have happened in the United States of America prior to 1848. It was one of the biggest economic sources of California and the Californian people. 1849 Gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevada 's on the California side. Many people around the world heard about it and traveled all over the place from China, Japan and even down in South America. It was a Gold frenzy that had set in from Novice miners to big industry started a gold rush to California.…

    • 1283 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The new state continued to grow, and by the end of the Gold Rush, 1 in 90 people living in the United States lived in California. Not only did the Gold Rush have an effect on the state's population, but it evoked a new dream in the hearts of Americans. It gave people the idea that any man could become successful if he worked hard enough, a dream that many Americans today still believe in and hope for. As Richard Nixon said, "The American Dream does not come to those who fall…

    • 903 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    UNPARALLELED IN CALIFORNIA!! !” Once the news broke, people moved to California by the thousands and interest by the states grew larger and larger by the day. Furthermore, America saw that a great deal of people were already coming to California from other parts of California, from the east coast and even from South America.So, they decided to do their best to acquire California for the ability to have it’s own gold, and for the growth of its economy. Evidence of the U.S. interest in California can be found right after the gold was discovered. Just a few days after the gold was discovered, the treaty of Guadalupe was signed, and California became a U.S. territory from that moment own.…

    • 1062 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    California Gold Rush

    • 754 Words
    • 4 Pages

    These migrants were the first wave of Chinese men. They decided to live apart from American camps and settled their own camps, which were named Chinatowns. These people did not only success in “extracting gold from the hillsides added to the intense economic competition of the gold rush” but they also developed and expressed their culture, which included appearances and customs (Gillon, pg.484). When the number of Chinese migrants, who came to San Francisco, were over twenty thousand in 1852, it resulted in increasing the national conflicts, which was racism, and specifying them as a foreign…

    • 754 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Almost everyone has heard about the California Gold Rush at some point, it brings up images of hermits panning for gold in a river. In actuality the California Gold Rush is much more than that. Many things throughout American would not be the same without the California Gold Rush. The California Gold Rush caused a huge boom in civilization in the western part of the United States of America, because of it there was a boom a population growth in a short period of time. It caused many of the major cities that the United States still has, also it played a huge part in the building of railroads.…

    • 1452 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    On the other hand, many would argue that the rapid growth of the gold rush is what had the greatest development of the west. During the gold rush, thousands of people moved out west searching for gold, with led to the development of towns. In the end, we will look at all of these factors and determine which one had the greatest impact. In 1862, the trans-pacific railroad act was passed by congress. The reason congress passed this act was to create a pathway for many on the eastern side of the United States to reach the west.…

    • 1248 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    During California’s Gold Rush in the late 1840s and 1850s migration to the state increased. As a result, foreigners who came to the state, and preexisting Californian residents experienced a challenging and hostile environment established by its Yankee community. Gold had been discovered by Sutter and Marshal and the discovery of gold could not be kept secret. News of gold being discovered spread like wildfire across the nation and around the world (Erik Lecture, 1/27). Susan Lee Johnson discussed in her chapter On the Eve of Emigration the experiences of the diverse groups of people such as the Chileans, Mexicans, Anglo-Americans, African-Americans, French, and Chinese who migrated to California in search of gold.…

    • 332 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Improved Essays