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January 24, 1848 was a momentous day in the history of California. James Marshall made the first gold sighting in the state that day, an event that would lead to the famed California gold rush. Marshall saw the tiny nuggets during the construction of his partner's, John Sutter, sawmill on the American River at Coloma.
The sighting would be reported almost two months later in then-San Francisco paper, The Californian. Not long after Marshall's initial finding, two other men, General John Bidwell and Major B. Redding, also found gold in different parts of what is now California.
By 1850 the area officially became a state and two years later had reached what would be its peak gold production: $81 million dollars of the precious metal. While panning for gold was becoming less and less profitable, the introduction of hydraulic mining was ensuring that the quest for gold would continue.
California's "Golden" age would eventually come to end as the decade wore on. By 1859, miners had switched to looking for silver in Nevada. The search for gold continued in California, with the use of hydraulic mines, into the 1880s, but the gold rush ran its course by 1864. In all, the gold mania brought a half a million people to the new state, from all parts of the world and it created prosperity and jobs for years to come.
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