Top 20 North American Gold Rushes

So what exactly is a Gold Rush?  A gold rush occurs when there is a new discovery of gold which causes people/miners to go into a rush to a head to an area and find gold in search of fortune. During these periods, people would migrate in large numbers to the reported location where gold has been discovered.  Many times it was on just a word here or there or a rumor.

In fact, people would travel from all parts of the world, trying their luck in this venture. Some major gold rushes that took place in the 19th century around the world included the United States, Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Brazil. In the United States, this phenomenon was one of the most transforming events in American history. It is a classic American story of striking it rich through hard work and a little luck.

When Mexican’s discovered gold in the 1830s, they had no idea of the vast amount that was deposited in the different places, specifically in California. It was the lure of quick money, of instant wealth that drew people into this adventure. However, there were very few people who made money and became rich with gold itself. But people, at the time, were so eager to try their luck even though much of them failed repeatedly.

Because people at the time were scrambling for mineral wealth, this caused some horrid events in American history. There were the pillaging and mining of the country side, the exploitation of the various ethnic workers in the mines, the pushing out of local natives and much more.

Here is an overview of the major gold rush events in North America:

Alabama (1830’s) – In the city of Gold Ville, not too far from the main road of this small town lies the remnants of a once thriving community. It’s the Gold mine that put the city on the map and gave it its name. It was once considered as the largest cities in Alabama with a population of near 5,000. People dug into the mines with common hand held tools and it was not an easy task. At the time, they would harvest around $50 million (in today’s dollars) worth of gold in a day. However, in 1849, gold was discovered in California which started the California Gold rush. This city became a dormant municipality.

Alaska (1897) – This is also known as the Klondike Gold Rush. The news of Gold is found in the mountains are all over the papers. One of the catchiest phrases published in a local paper reads “Stacks of Yellow Metal!” Around 100,000 people set out to search for gold in the eerie mountains of Alaska. However due to the location and weather, more than half turned back. The people who continued their search all had one idea, to shovel up gold and to be rich. People were determined because the rush symbolized hope. It was an interesting way to come out of depression.

Arizona (1774, 1849, 1862) – a Spanish priest named Manuel Lopez directed Papago Indians to wash gold from gravel on the side of the Quijotoa Mountains in Pima County. The mining continued until 1849 until they were lured away by the California Gold Rush. In 1862, Pauline Weaver found placer gold on the east side of the Colorado River.

California (1848)  – A guy named John Marshall discovered the gold along the American River when he was sent there to build a sawmill for business man John Sutter. Because of the location of the state (being too far from the Federal Government), news had not reached the other parts of the country until after a year. In round 1849, California’s population in exploded 10x. There were people from all over the world, suddenly the place inhabited a diverse group of people.  They were called 49’rs.

Colorado (1858 – 1859) – the discovery of gold in this territory, it revolutionized the mountain transportation systems, mining industry and the living conditions of its people. People also traveled from different locations to test their luck and get rich. Majority travel with their families, livestock, wives, and children in tow.

Florida (19th Century) – Gold was discovered in this area in the 19th century however, the discoveries were insufficient to maintain its commercial operation.

Georgia (1828) – the discovery of Gold in Georgina was the second largest one in the US. Benjamin Parks and a friend were walking through the woods returning from Cherokee lands when they spotted a stone with a unique color. It was gold. The land was controlled by the Cherokee Indians but this didn’t stop people from being attracted to the “rush”. Many still set foot to find gold in the territory until the vastness of the California gold rush has spread in 1849.

Idaho (1860) – It was the year 1860 when gold was first discovered in Pierce. The people who came to Idaho have already been somewhere looking for gold. Similar to previous accounts, many came but few conquered. The discovery of gold in Boise made some miners strike it rich and word spread like wildfire. In no time miners came to the location and the area became a hot spot for gold.

Maryland (1830) – The total amount of gold that was produced in Maryland was around 190 kg. Gold has been reportedly discovered in this area in 1830 but no production resulted from it. The discovery of gold came into light the same time as the California gold rush did and it somehow eclipsed the event. People had the same purpose, to get gold and get rich,

Michigan (1840) – Douglass Houghton is the man credited for the gold rush in Michigan. He was able to pan enough placer gold from the bed of a small stream. There was a presence of underground mining in this location in 1880 until 1897 and it closed and was reopened in 1983 and continued to produce gold until 1898. There was around 900 kg of gold produced.

Montana (1852) – Gold was discovered in 1852 but mining for it began in 1862. This was when gold placers were found at Bannack, Montana. The gold prospectors were known as the “Pike’s Peakers” at the time. In 1862, some of the prospectors hit a jackpot that was about three miles downstream where the gold camp was located. This brought in about 500 more people ready to try their luck.

Nevada (1870’s, 1902) – This is the state that leads the country’s gold-producing business. Nevada represents 78% of the US gold and 5.4% of the gold’s production. In 2015, they produced 151,376.786 kg of gold. The reason for this is because of the abundance of rivers and streams in this county. This made the area boom, attracting one prospector over the other. Gold was found in the Carlin vicinity around 1870’s and in Goldfield in 1902.

New Mexico (1828) – Gold was first seen in 1828 in the districts of Ortiz Mountains, Santa Fe County, New Mexico. In 1904, the total production of gold was valued at $$6,750,000. It looks like the extremely dry weather in this city, the lack of water has been the main reason for its limited gold production. Initially, Apache tribes made gold prospecting difficult but because of the influx of white people, it became possible.

North Carolina (1799) – In 1799, Conrad Reed, a farmer’s son discovered a 16-pound yellow “rock” on their family farm. He used this as a door-stopper. In 1802, a jeweler from Fayetteville confirmed that the rock is a large gold nugget and offered to purchase it, even asked Reed to name his price. Reed sold the gold for $3.50. The true value of the gold was $3600.

Oregon (1849) – Gold in this area has come from two major locations, one in the Klamath Mountains, southwest of Oregon and another is in the Blue Mountains located in the northeast part of the state. The news of the discovery of gold caused people to settle into the area. This caused some trouble between the natives and the white settlers.

Pennsylvania (1878) – The deposit in the Cornwall iron mine was known to produce iron since 1742. Gold was reported to have been present in the year 1878. This location produced about 1,200 kg of gold.

South Carolina (1872) – There is a location that is called the Carolina Slate Belt. There are several lodes of gold mines along this area. One of the most popular is the Haile site. The Ocean Gold Corporation restarted mining on this location in 2016 and they are looking at producing around 3 591.88458 kg of gold per year.

South Dakota (1874) – The Black Hills gold rush took placed in this area beginning of 1874. There is only one gold mine operation in this part of the United States. This is the Wharf mine (operated by Coeur Mining) located in Lead. In 2016, they produced around 3 090.09802 kg of gold.

Tennessee (1827) – the Coker Creek in Monroe County produced about 280 kg of gold in the year 1872. People prospecting gold along the riverbanks with the same mission, to get lucky and wealthy.

Texas (1887) – Gold prospects in central Texas (Llano Uplift) have been able to excavate gold. This included the districts of Heath mine and Babyhead however if there has been any gold production, no records have been documented. Historically, many believe that the Lost Nigger Gold Mine is in this state. This is a popular folklore in the US. The story goes that the Reagan brothers employed William Kelly (“Nigger Bill” to help them with ranch chores. Kelly allegedly discovered gold while he was working on the ranch but was not taken seriously by his employers. Because of this rejection, Kelly went to San Antonio and had the ore (gold) checked and confirmed that it was gold. After this, the stories got conflicted. There are accounts saying that as he was returning to Denver, he was killed by the Raegan brothers because they got the letter confirming that what Kelly has found was gold and another says that when he arrived in Denver, he borrowed a horse and left. Nevertheless, the Raegan brothers dedicated their lives to trying to find this gold but they were not successful.