Gold in California
The California gold rush brought hundreds of thousands of people into the Golden State over 150 years ago when James Marshall found the first gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The majority of forty-niners suffered more hardships than financial reward, but eventually tens of billions of today's dollars were recovered, with few individuals making millions and about half of the gold seekers making a modest profit. San Francisco went from a sleepy little coastal town with a population of only about 200 residents to a boomtown of 36,000 in just a few years.
Today, many people believe that most of that gold is long gone, but there is still plenty of gold left in California, and it's estimated that the original prospectors found, at most, 15 percent of what is thought to be there.
With the state of the economy the way it is today, combined with soaring gold prices, optimistic Americans are once again heading to the hills in search of gold in California. Gold value has doubled over the past few years, and over the past decade, it's gone from a little over $300 an ounce to today's price of $1,571 an ounce.
This massive increase has ignited a new gold rush. With so many people losing their jobs in the recession, a number have decided to pay their bills by becoming full-time gold prospectors. Today's forty-niners no longer use picks to dig for their riches, but instead use improved equipment like suction dredges and metal detectors, although a few still use the tried and true method of panning for gold.
The stories behind the search have a familiar ring of the old days, with a few giving up their day jobs and moving their families to a potential hot spot and ending with little to show for their troubles, and today, "gold fever," is still a real, and dark, obsession. Drunken bar fights are often the result of stolen treasure between friends, with fists used instead of guns.
A few people have the idea that gold nuggets are just lying on river banks just waiting to be retrieved, but that is certainly not the case either. There are still large amounts of gold out there, but most of it is subterranean, or underground.
The old gold mining towns that became ghost towns, or close to it, are stirring again with history repeating itself. If you're looking for gold in California, the Mother Lode country along the western side of the Sierra Nevada Range is still the best place to go. Remember that prospectors can only stake mining claims on BLM Land, National Forests and Wilderness Study Areas.