Prospector Articles

If you ever happen to be selected for a big money TV quiz program, and the question is, "Who was first to discover gold in California?" don't answer James Marshall at Sutter's Mill. The correct answer is Francisco Lopez y Arballo, on March 9, 1842, and where, in Placerita Canyon about 35 miles northwest from Los Angeles.

Gold MinersThis is a documented fact. The U.S. Mint at Philadelphia certified the first shipment six years before the rush of '48 as 18.75 ounces. The placer operation yielded $40,000 ( when the going rate for a worker was $1 a day) before operations were suspended on account of the war with the United States, and the news of a much larger strike on the American River.

Knowing today that California produced $1,000,000,000 in gold the first 20 years of operations, the thought that the first indication of this wealth was ignored, is almost as mind boggling as the fact that the James W. Marshall find, January 24, 1848, was scoffed at by the businessmen of San Francisco as a "fantasy". It wasn't until early April that a man who had worked the gold fields in Georgia ( North Carolina was the first producer in the history of gold mining in the U.S.) saw the samples from Sutter's mill race. Humphry tried to raise a grubstake, and to persuade friends to accompany him in a mineral exploration adventure. His efforts were laughed at.

Finally, Humphry set out by himself, with a pan and shovel. He made several days wages on his first try, and finding gold everywhere, built a rocker to increase production. It wasnÌt until Marshall and his friends witnessed the simple fact that inside of a week Humphry was a very wealthy man, that the "rush" began.

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