Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The California Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush

Jean F. Blashfield
For ages 7 to 9
Compass Point Books, 2001   ISBN: 0756500419

On January 24th, 1848, a carpenter called James Marshall saw something sparkling on the mill wheel that he had built for his client, Captain John Sutter. When he tested the yellow metal that he had found, he determined that it was gold. The gold had been carried down the south fork of the American River to the sawmill. Though Marshall tried to keep his find a secret, within two weeks the news had spread to San Francisco and soon people were pouring out of the town to try to find gold.

Soon these novice miners were joined by thousands of other men who heard about the discovery and who came west to make their fortunes. Indeed, men from all over the world flocked to California hoping to strike it rich. They made long and dangerous journeys by land and by sea, and most of them left the gold fields in worse shape than when they arrived. Many did not leave at all, felled by disease, lack of food, freezing temperatures, and accidents. Thousands of men discovered that looking for gold is not as easy as it sounds.

In this excellent We the People title, the author not only tells her readers what took place during the California gold rush but she also tells her readers what took place in that part of the world before and after the rush. Among other things she describes how the miners looked for gold, what their lives were like, and how fortunes were made by businessmen who provided the miners with supplies, entertainment, and services.

There are many interesting and well written titles in this series. Topics covered include the Oregon Trail, the Great Depression, the Bill of Rights, and the Pony Express.