Western Expansion for Kids - The Gold Rush
Just days after gold was discovered in 1849 at Sutter's Mill, California, the Mexican-American ended. America won! As part of the treaty, Mexico had to give up California. California became part of the United States. Hardly anybody lived there at the time, perhaps only 1,000 people. When the word went out that gold had been discovered in California, things changed. About 300,000 people headed to California in search of gold. Almost 100,000 people arrived in the first two years. And gold was found!
Over the next 10 years, 750,000 pounds of gold was found in California. Today, that would be equivalent to billions of dollars! But very few people got rich from the gold they found. Merchants discovered they could make far more money selling supplies to the miners at ridiculous prices than they could out searching for gold. During the gold rush:
- Shovels cost around $36. Today that would be equivalent to $1000 (for one shovel.)
- Cheese was $25 a pound. Today that would be equivalent to $700 a pound
- Beef was $10 a pound. Today that would be equivalent to $280 a pound
- Flour was $13 a bag. Today that would be equivalent to $365 a bag
- You get the idea. It was ridiculous.
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