gold rush

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gold rush,

influx of prospectors, merchants, adventurers, and others to newly discovered gold fields. One of the most famous of these stampedes in pursuit of riches was the California gold rush. The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill early in 1848 brought more than 40,000 prospectors to California within two years. Although few of them struck it rich, their presence was an important stimulus to economic growth and hastened California's statehood (1850). Agriculture, commerce, transportation, and industry grew rapidly to meet the needs of the settlers; mining, too, soon became big business as corporations replaced the individual prospector. Vigilante justice and ad hoc political structures soon gave way to the complex organization of state government. The excitement of the California gold-rush days has been captured in the works of Bret HarteHarte, Bret
(Francis Brett Harte) , 1836–1902, American writer of short stories and humorous verse, b. Albany, N.Y. At 19 he went to California, where he tried his hand at teaching, clerking, and mining.
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 and Jack LondonLondon, Jack
(John Griffith London), 1876–1916, American author, b. San Francisco. The illegitimate son of William Chaney, an astrologer, and Flora Wellman, a seamstress and medium, he had a poverty-stricken childhood, and was brought up by his mother and her subsequent
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. Other large gold rushes took place in Australia (1851–53); WitwatersrandWitwatersrand
[Afrik.,=white water ridge] or the Rand,
region, Gauteng prov. (formerly a part of Transvaal), South Africa. The area, which forms the watershed between the Vaal and Olifants rivers, is c.
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, South Africa (1884); and the KlondikeKlondike
, region of Yukon, NW Canada, just E of the Alaska border. It lies around Klondike River, a small stream that enters the Yukon River from the east at Dawson. The discovery in 1896 of rich placer gold deposits in Bonanza (Rabbit) Creek, a tributary of the Klondike,
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, Canada (1897–98).


See O. Lewis, Sea Routes to the Gold Fields (1949); E. Wells and H. Peterson, The '49ers (1949); P. Barton, The Klondike Fever (1958); R. W. Paul, Mining Frontiers of the Far West, 1848–1880 (1963, repr. 2001) and as ed., The California Gold Discovery (1966); D. B. Chidsey, The California Gold Rush (1968); H. W. Brands, The Age of Gold (2002); D. L. Walker, Eldorado: The California Gold Rush (2003); E. Dolnick, The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848–1853 (2014).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Gold Rush

lure of instant riches precipitated onslaught of prospectors (1848, 1886). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 203]
See: Frenzy
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Nonmonetary Composition of Yearly Gold Demand Period Annual Average Value of Percentage of Calculated Net Yearly Production Used in: Jewelry/ Monetary/ Industrial Investment 1880-191315 (CGS) 33% 67% 1975-1980 (1970s Gold Boom) 60% 40% 1982-2003 ("Early" Great Moderation) 53% 46% 1997-2007 ("Late" Great Moderation) 91.6% 8.4% 2008-2011 (Great Recession) 60% 40% Sources: Friedman and Schwartz (1970); U.S.
By 2000, when Herman returns yet again, the foreigners are leaving and the story takes another turn: The gold boom of the '90s has gone bust.
No clear alternative "I've been doing this (handling mercury) since my mid-20s, when I first came here from Cebu," said Durano, who settled to Diwalwal shortly after the gold boom in 1984.
The setting is perfect for another gold boom cycle to kick in, perhaps pushing the yellow metal into a super cycle.
Tanaka Kikinzoku predicts the current gold boom could last a long time as the portfolio holdings of gold in Japan are still at a low level, below 0.1% of the total financial assets of about 1,400 trillion yen.
The last gold boom, in the '70s coincided with a ruinous explosion of the price of oil.