|< Mining Intro | Image: 1 2 3 >|
Mining the West
"We had not less than thirty thousand 'feet' apiece in the 'richest mines on earth.' We were stark mad with excitement -- drunk with happiness -- smothered under mountains of prospective wealth -- arrogantly compassionate toward the plodding millions who knew not our marvelous canyon -- but our credit was not good at the grocer's." Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)
The stunning discovery of gold at Sutter's fort in California in
January 1848 had a major impact on mapping after that date; many
maps should be viewed in the context of "before
1848" and "after 1848." Even world maps made room
for gold-painted patches on California to make clear where the
goods were. Gold created a fever, which spurred the building of
roads and railroads to speed the travel west. Earlier, the impetus
had been British and Russian incursions on the Pacific coast; now
gold fever instantly changed motivations and emigration patterns.
California became an important destination, and San Francisco's
population boomed. World maps emphasized railroad routes west and
shipping routes across the Central American isthmus. Guidebooks
for travelers across land and sea were instant bestsellers.
Popular writers from Mark Twain to the explorer John Charles
Frémont wrote about the gold fields.