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16 December 2012

Nancy Hendrickson: How the California Gold Rush Changed the Face of America

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A very short history of the Californian Gold Rush
I am a history junkie, especially about the Gold Rushes in the US and Australia. So I had great expectations that this book would add to my knowledge base - but unfortunately it didn't add as much as some historical adventure novels I have read in the same setting. This book was really no more than a long University essay but did sum up a few essential facts about the Californian Gold Rush:

* Most went to the gold fields to get rich and go home and not to settle in California.
* Many never made it to California because the trip from the Eastern States was monumental and fraught with dangers, on a wagon train (with disease, hunger and Indians), round the treacherous Cape Horn or by sea and land across the jungles of the Panama isthmus.
* More people became rich supplying the miners than the miners themselves.
* About 1 in 5 miners died within 6 months of getting to the gold fields from accidents, disease and malnutrition.
* The Gold Rush was the trigger and the financial base for the construction of a trans-continental railway that eventually brought settlers in great numbers to the rich resources of California.

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