fifty-thousand persons are drifting up and down
these slopes, of every hue, language and clime.
All are in quest of gold. Some are with tents,
and some without; some have provisions, and some
are on their last ration. Such a mixed and motley
crowd--such a restless, roving, rummaging, ragged
-- Walter Colton
Click and drag to move around.
Shift key to zoom in.
Ctrl/Command key to zoom out.
who followed their dreams to the bottom of a
stream in the Sierras found themselves confronted
with hard work, harsh weather, and a rapidly
diminishing supply of gold. The efforts, tools
and equipment required to get at the gold that
remained quickly became more elaborate.
mining scenes reflect the diversity of the people
who sought their fortunes in the gold fields of
California. They also depict the variety of tools
and techniques used in the first months and years
of prospecting. There is a Chinese mining camp,
an arrastra being worked by a Sonoran, a Miwok
woman washing gold with a basket, a pair of
miners working a coyote hole, and miners working
a long tom, who have been visited by a woman
selling pies. As California flooded with people
from around the world, the easy surface gold was
quickly skimmed. Suddenly the streams were
crowded, and competition became stiff. Tensions,
conflicts and discrimination intensified, along
with a few nuggets of gold.
Working a Long Tom
miners are working a "long tom." It
allowed them to work together in a larger mining
operation. A native Hawaiian, called a
"Kanaka," faces the woman offering her
meat pies for sale to the hungry miners. She was
up before dawn to begin cooking. Many industrious
women in the gold region earned more money than a
lot of the miners.
scene is an Indian mining site in 1848. A Miwok
woman is panning with a watertight basket and a
crevice tool. Gold had not been valued in Indian
culture. But when foreigners rushed in, the
Indians immediately realized its trade value.
Whites proceeded to cheat them without moral
qualm, offering goods worth a tiny fraction of
the gold surrendered. Native people were driven
from their homes; their hunting and fishing
grounds were defiled; and they were constantly
targeted for forced labor, robbery, even murder.
coyote hole took its name from the animals, who
had similar burrowing habits. Miners were trying
to reach the ancient, dry river channels that
held rich deposits. The shafts were as deep as
100 feet. Working inside the hole was the most
dangerous type of gold mining, with frequent
cave-ins. The gravel, dirt and gold hauled up by
that winch, called a windlass, were then carried
to a nearby stream for washing.
One of the miners here is an African American.
Many were brought to California as slaves, even
though California entered the Union as a free
of the 5000 Sonorans who came for gold had been
miners in Mexico. They brought with them the
tools and techniques they had used successfully
Sonorans used a machine called an arrastra,
displayed here. A mule, or the miners themselves,
pulled the boom around the circle, dragging heavy
stones over the quartz ore to crush it. The
miners then separated the gold from the
pulverized ore in wooden bowls called bateas.
is a Chinese gold miners' camp. By 1852, 25,000
Chinese had come to what they called Gum Shan --
"Gold Mountain," making them the
largest foreign group in the mining region at
that time. Their sites were truly
"camps," for they usually worked and
lived in large communal groups.
miner's log cabin, San Francisco in the Gold
Rush, and an original pair of Levis.
Return to QTVR Main Page.