Gold is a gleaming symbol of California's bounty and wealth. It was the lure, the promise of California for hundreds of thousands of argonauts who overwhelmed California during the Gold Rush. Gold unleashed the forces that rocketed California to immense growth and development. It sparked a swirl of hopes and dreams, myths and legends, contributions and conflicts.
But the legacies of the Gold Rush are complex--sometimes triumphant, sometimes troubled. It what seemed the blink of an eye, California's first people were overrun by a world rush. Miners saw nature as a force to be overcome to get at the golden treasure. Other rushes followed gold: agriculture, oil, real estate, motion pictures, military industry, computers. California became the nation's industrial, agricultural, and population leader. But the bounty and beauty of the region have paid a price for these achievements. The scales have not always been balanced. Immigrants still come, but the gold they seek is mostly metaphorical; not precious metal but opportunity.
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