24 Jan:
I’ve Struck Gold!

Rerun: The California Gold Rush was ignited by James Marshall’s discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill on January 24th, 1848. The news led to a lawless and chaotic surge of wannabe prospectors heading to the State, enduring perilous journeys to do so.

Over 300,000 people arrived in just seven years, transforming a region previously inhabited by just 8,000 white settlers. But not everybody struck it rich, and, despite owning the land the gold was found on, the discovery dashed John Sutter’s dreams of establishing a water mill bearing his name.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explore how ‘the 49ers’ laid the template for California rushes yet to come, in the form of Hollywood and Silicon Valley; reveal how Levi Strauss used the gold rush to grow his burgeoning fashion business; and ask how, exactly, normal people knew how to verify the gold they’d found in a river, in the days before YouTube…  

Further Reading:

• ‘Gold Rush: California, Date & Sutter’s Mill’ (HISTORY, 2010): https://www.history.com/topics/19th-century/gold-rush-of-1849

• ‘The Rush – America’s Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853, By Edward Dolnick’ (Little, Brown, 2014): 


• ‘Gold Fever: How The Rush Began’ (Discovery, 2014):

‘Why am I hearing a rerun?’ Every Thursday is ‘Throwback Thursday’ on Today in History with the Retrospectors: running one repeat per week means we can keep up the quality of our independent podcast. Daily shows like this require a lot of work! But as ever we’ll have something new for you tomorrow, so follow us wherever you get your podcasts: podfollow.com/Retrospectors