Yesterday (May 11th) we spent our day driving the Ole 49er Highway (Gold Country). We took time to walk up & down the streets of Nevada City, Grass valley & finished off with Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park (Located in Coloma).
INFORMATION FROM PAMPHLET: Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park & Sutter's Mill
Along California's historic Highway 49, tucked neatly into a beautifully forested valley in the Sierra foothills, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park straddles the South Fork of the American River. Here on January 24, 1848, James Marshall found gold flakes in the streambed & sparked one of history's largest human migrations.
John Sutter Teamed up with James W. Marshall to go into the lumber business. They selected Coloma Valley, 45 miles east of Sutter's Fort, as a mill site because it had a river for power & stands of large ponderosa pine trees for lumber. As equal partners, Sutter would furnish the capital & Marshall would oversee the mill's construction & daily operation.
In the fall of 1847, Marshall began construction of the mill with a labor force that included local Indians & members of the U.S. Army Mormon Battalion. A low dam was built across the river to funnel part of the stream into the diversion channel that would carry it through the mill. By January of the next year, the mill was ready to be tested. However, the tailrace, which carried water away from the mill, was too shallow, backing up water & preventing the mill wheel from turning properly. To deepen the tailrace, each day the Indian laborers loosened the rock. At night, water was allowed to run through the ditch to wash away the loose debris from that day's diggings.
On the morning of January 24, 1848, while inspecting the watercourse, Marshall spotted some shiny flecks in the tailrace. He scooped them up, & after bending them with his fingernail & pounding them with a rock, he placed them in the crown of his hat & hurried to announce his find to the others. He told the millworkers, "Boys, by God, I believe I've found a gold mine". When Mr. Scott---a carpenter working on the mill wheel---disputed his claim, Marshall replied positively, "I know it to be nothing else". Marshall pounded it on a rock, & the cook, Jenny Wimmer, boiled it in lye soap. It passed all their tests---it was pure gold.