California, the Last Frontier

By Robert Durrenberger; G. Etzel Pearcy et al. | Go to book overview

4
The Golden State

While we were in the habit at night of turning the water through the tail race we had dug for the purpose of widening and deepening the race, I used to go down in the morning to see what had been done by the water through the night; and about half past seven o'clock on or about the 19th of January -- I am not quite certain to a day, but it was between the 18th and the 20th of that month -- 1848, I went down as usual, and after shutting off the water from the race I stepped into it, near the lower end, and there, upon the rock, about six inches beneath the surface of the water, I discovered the gold. I was entirely alone at the time. I picked up one or two pieces and examined them attentively; and having some general knowledge of minerals, I could not call to mind more than two which in any way resembled this -- sulphuret of iron, very bright and brittle; and gold, bright, yet malleable; I then tried it between two rocks, and found that it could be beaten into a different shape, but not broken. I then collected four or five pieces and went up to Mr. Scott (who was working at the carpenter's bench making the mill wheel) with the pieces and said, "I have found it."

"What is it?" inquired Scott.

"Gold," I answered.

"Oh! no," returned Scott, "that can't be."

I replied positively -- "I know it to be nothing else."

Four days afterwards I went to the Fort for provisions, and carried with me about three ounces of the gold, which Capt. Sutter and I tested with nitric acid. I then tried it in Sutter's presence by taking three silver dollars and balancing them by the dust in the air, then immersed both in water, and the superior weight of the gold satisfied us both of its nature and value.1

____________________
1
From James Marshall statement in Hutchings' California Magazine, November, 1857, pp. 199-201.

-43-

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California, the Last Frontier
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Preface 3
  • Contents 5
  • 1 - California as a Distinct Region 7
  • 2 - Island California 20
  • 3 - Spanish California 32
  • 4 - The Golden State 43
  • 5 - One California -- or Many Californias? 59
  • 6 - Migrants and Migrations 77
  • 7 - Change and Growth 93
  • 8 - The California of Tomorrow 131
  • Study Guide 147
  • General References 153
  • Index 158
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