1820s -1850s

Clash of Cultures & the Discovery of Gold


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  • Pioneer Women/Families

    Tales of a rich new land began to spread throughout the United States in the 1840s, drawing Midwesterners from rural states such as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri to California’s fertile valleys. Learn More

    Pioneer Women/Families
  • Forty-Niners

    In December 1848 President James Polk officially confirmed the discovery of gold in California. Gripped by visions of great wealth, hopeful prospectors in the East immediately began planning for the trip west. The overland route was risky and mostly unknown. Learn More

    Forty-Niners
  • Chileans

    News of the discovery of gold in 1848 quickly reached foreign ports along the Pacific Coast, including the Chilean city of Valparaíso. California gold lured Chilean prospectors just as it did their counterparts in the eastern and midwestern United States. Learn More

    Chileans
  • Mormons

    Many religious groups sought a promised land in the American West. Although Catholic missionaries from Spain were the first group to establish a presence in California, it was perhaps the Mormons who most profoundly impacted and were shaped by their connection the region. Learn More

    Mormons