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Image of cascade in Sierra County
 

Water. This is where the story of the California gold discovery begins. Each spring for centuries as the snow pack melts in the high Sierra Mountains, hundreds of streams forge paths through the mountains into rivers known as the Feather, Yuba, American, Mokelumne, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Merced and scores of small tributaries each cutting, rolling and churning their way down to the mighty Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers of central California.

Along the way the water washes over exposed gold veins breaking free gold nuggets and dust to be carried downstream and eventually captured in the stream beds near sand bars and other areas where the gold deposits, being heavier than other materials in the river, would settle.

It was from one such spot on January 24, 1848 that John Marshall noticed something glittering in the tailrace of Sutter’s Mill on the South Fork of the American River. It was Gold! Soon people from all over the world rushed to California … The Land of Glittering Dreams.


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