When James Marshall found a small, soft shiny stone in a California stream, he knew it could only be one thing: Gold! His cry of discovery would be heard around the world. In the third installment of Don Brown's Actual Times series, Gold! Gold from the American River! is the story of the California gold rush--the uncharted journey across hostile land, the laborious process of panning for gold, the success of savvy entrepreneurs, and the fortunes of the marginalized, from slaves and American Indians to women and foreigners.
Brown (All Stations, Distress!) adds another installment to his Actual Times series, this time focusing on the California Gold Rush, using numerous primary source quotes to flesh out the lively chronology. "You're working in freezing water up to your waist for hours at a time. You're reaching down, moving rocks." Readers hear from participants in all aspects of the story, from the initial gold find near Sutter's Mill in 1848 to the treacherous migration of fortune seekers (one route even took travelers on "a harrowing jungle tramp across the Isthmus" of Panama) and the often disappointing, impoverished endings to gold diggers' efforts. Full-bleed watercolors, rich in dusty brown and gray hues, fill the pages, illustrating not only the 49ers' hardships, but also the role of women and the plight of foreigners and Native Americans who crossed miners' paths, as one graphic illustration reveals ("The California Indians' tragic fate is a national shame" writes Brown). This well-researched account details how several things originated from the country's gold fever such as the idiom "pans out," Levi Strauss jeans, and the dramatic expansion of the city of San Francisco. Ages 6 10.