Prospectors working California gold placer deposits in 1850
California goldfields (red) in the Sierra Nevada and northern California
1838 map from Britannica 7th edition, when the river was called Buenaventura River.
1855 illustration of James W. Marshall, discoverer of gold at Sutter's Mill
View of the American River from below the Guy West Bridge on the Sacramento State campus
Advertisement about sailing to California, circa 1850
American River view from the campus of California State University, Sacramento
Merchant ships fill San Francisco Bay, 1850–51
North Fork at Foresthill Bridge
"Independent Gold Hunter on His Way to California", c. 1850
Middle Fork canyon
Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, during the Gold Rush, 1851
South Fork at Sutter's Mill
1852 photograph, captioned "The Heathen Chinee Prospecting", indicating prejudice against Chinese gold miners
North Fork of American River
Protecting the Settlers, an illustration by JR Browne for his work The Indians of California (1864)
View of the American River from the William B. Pond Recreation Area
Forty-niner panning for gold
View of the American River from the William B. Pond Recreation Area
Sluice for separation of gold from dirt using water
Excavating a riverbed after the water has been diverted
Crushing quartz ore prior to washing out gold
California gold miners with long tom, circa 1850–1852
Mining on the American River near Sacramento, circa 1852
River mining, North Fork of the American River, circa 1850–1855
Excavating a gravel bed with jets, circa 1863
Panning on the Mokelumne River (1860 illustration)
Chinese gold miners in California (illustratrion)

The American River is known for the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma in 1848 that started the California Gold Rush and contributed to the initial large-scale settlement of California by European immigrants.

- American River

On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall found shiny metal in the tailrace of a lumber mill he was building for Sacramento pioneer John Sutter—known as Sutter's Mill, near Coloma on the American River.

- California Gold Rush
Prospectors working California gold placer deposits in 1850

6 related topics

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John Sutter, c. 1850

John Sutter

Swiss immigrant of Mexican and American citizenship, known for establishing Sutter's Fort in the area that would eventually become Sacramento, California, the state's capital.

Swiss immigrant of Mexican and American citizenship, known for establishing Sutter's Fort in the area that would eventually become Sacramento, California, the state's capital.

John Sutter, c. 1850
The birthplace of John Sutter in Kandern
John Sutter, 1866
Contemporaneous illustration of Sutter's Fort
Sutter's Mill in 1850.
Camp Union, Sutterville (State Historical marker and fort pillar)
Camp Union, Sutterville (State Historical marker)
General Sutter grave in Lititz, PA Moravian Cemetery

Although he became famous following the discovery of gold by his employee James W. Marshall and the mill-making team at Sutter's Mill, Sutter saw his own business ventures fail during the California Gold Rush.

It started when Sutter hired Marshall, a New Jersey native who had served with John C. Frémont in the Bear Flag revolt, to build a water-driven sawmill in Coloma, along the American River.

Sacramento River

Principal river of Northern California in the United States and is the largest river in California.

Principal river of Northern California in the United States and is the largest river in California.

Upper Sacramento River at Castle Crags State Park
The Sacramento River running through Red Bluff, California
Sacramento River in Bend, California
Sacramento River above Sacramento
Aerial view of the Delta region, showing the Sacramento River (above) and the San Joaquin River.
Flooding on the Sacramento River, January 24, 1970
The Sacramento River below Shasta Dam
The Castle Crags, a series of granite peaks rising above the upper Sacramento River canyon just to the right. Mount Shasta, the highest mountain in the Sacramento drainage, is seen in the distance.
The Carquinez Strait, which connects the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Bay to San Pablo and San Francisco Bays, and then the Pacific. The channel formed from water flooding over the Coast Ranges from a gigantic lake that formed in the Central Valley a few hundred thousand years ago, when the rising mountains blocked the Sacramento's route to the Pacific Ocean.
Mt. Shasta and the Sacramento River by Frederick A. Butman (1820-1871)
Chrysopolis, one of several large steamboats that served for transportation on the river during the California Gold Rush
Environmental damage caused by hydraulic mining near Downieville, on the North Yuba River
Shasta Dam
Sacramento Weir is one of several structures along the Sacramento River designed to drain excess floodwaters.
Construction work on Shasta Dam in June 1942
Red Bluff Diversion Dam, which sends Sacramento River water to a pair of irrigation canals near Red Bluff, posed a major barrier to fish movement and migration in the river until replaced with a pumping plant in 2013.
Sacramento River flowing through the Sacramento suburbs
Improvement in water quality throughout the Sacramento and Feather River through the reduction of diazinon concentrations.

In the 19th century, gold was discovered on a tributary of the Sacramento River, starting the California Gold Rush and an enormous population influx to the state.

Near downtown Sacramento it receives the American River from the east, then passes under the historic Tower Bridge and Interstate 80 Business.

Kearsarge Lakes Basin is named after the USS Kearsarge

Sierra Nevada

Mountain range in the Western United States, between the Central Valley of California and the Great Basin.

Mountain range in the Western United States, between the Central Valley of California and the Great Basin.

Kearsarge Lakes Basin is named after the USS Kearsarge
The Sierra hosts many waterways, such as the Tuolumne River.
Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the range and the contiguous United States
Mount Tallac above Lake Tahoe
View of Sequoia National Park from Moro Rock
Sevehah Cliff, near Convict Lake, shows severely deformed Devonian rock
Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park was carved by glaciers
Red Slate Mountain (elevation 13156 ft) is still covered with snow in June.
Tuolumne Meadows is an example of a subalpine meadow in the Sierra.
John Frémont was an early American explorer of the Sierra
Map of gold fields in the Sierra
The exploration team for the California Geological Survey, 1864
The General Sherman Tree, a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park, is the world's largest tree by volume.

The California Gold Rush occurred in the western foothills from 1848 through 1855.

The northern third of the western Sierra is part of the Sacramento River watershed (including the Feather, Yuba, and American River tributaries), and the middle third is drained by the San Joaquin River (including the Mokelumne, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced River tributaries).

James Marshall, c. 1884

James W. Marshall

James Marshall, c. 1884
The caption with this photo at the Library of Congress claims that this was Marshall in front of the mill in 1850. However, it was not. The historians at Marshall Gold State Historic Park have concluded that it is not Marshall and believe it to be the photographer's assistant put in the photo to show scale.
The spot where Marshall first discovered the gold that started the California Gold Rush
Marshall's cabin in Coloma, California

James Wilson Marshall (October 8, 1810 – August 10, 1885) was an American carpenter and sawmill operator, who reported the finding of gold at Coloma on the American River in California on January 24, 1848, the impetus for the California Gold Rush.

An engraving of New Helvetia made in 1849

New Helvetia

19th-century Alta California settlement and rancho, centered in present-day Sacramento, California.

19th-century Alta California settlement and rancho, centered in present-day Sacramento, California.

An engraving of New Helvetia made in 1849

It was located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and American River.

In January 1848 James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter's Mill on the rancho, starting the California Gold Rush.

Auburn, California

City in and the county seat of Placer County, California, United States.

City in and the county seat of Placer County, California, United States.

Placer County Courthouse was constructed between 1894 and 1898.
Rolling hills of Auburn, taken near Indian Hill Road
The Queen Anne-style Old Town Firehouse is a landmark. It originally adjoined a row of commercial buildings (now demolished). It was home to the Auburn Volunteer Fire Department.

Auburn is known for its California Gold Rush history, and is registered as a California Historical Landmark.

Auburn is situated in the Northern California foothills of the Sierra Nevada range, approximately 800 vertical feet above the confluence of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the American River.