DATE: November 7, 2006
CONTACT: Mike Brown, (775) 753-0386
ELKO FIELD OFFICE: 2007- 07
CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY AT CALIFORNIA TRAIL CENTER NEAR ELKO
Elko’s California National Historic Trail Interpretive Center moves a step closer to opening every day. West Coast Contractors of Nevada, Inc., is making good progress on the $9.45 million contract.
“Every time I visit the site, I see change,” said Bureau of Land Management Trail Center Manager Dave Jamiel. “We’re all hoping the weather continues to hold so we can get as much done as possible. Currently, West Coast is excavating the foundation for the main building and grading the site of the future amphitheater.”
When completed, the Trail Center will occupy an 11-acre footprint and will include 16,000 square feet in the main facility and a similar-sized interpretive plaza east of the building. Construction is scheduled to be completed in early 2008.
STORIES FROM THE TRAIL
The Start of the California Gold Rush, Part 1 - by Terry Del Bene
“Hey boys, by God, I believe I’ve found a gold mine!”- attributed to James W. Marshall January 24, 1848.
The California gold rush is one of those watershed events in history. The news of the discovery would send roughly 80,000 people in a mad dash to make it to the gold fields in the year of 1849. The West would never be the same. Thousands of the forty-niners would pass through present-day Nevada on their run to the gold fields. Many would stay here forever in lonely graves.
The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill by James Marshall is a well-known event in American history. However, this discovery was by no means the first time that gold was found in California. The first written account of gold in California was penned by Sir Francis Drake in 1579. At that time gold in such a far-off and inaccessible land was interesting but too hazardous a proposition to generate any but passing interest. The settlement of California by the Spanish and Mexican governments resulted in additional discoveries. There are records of gold strikes in 1775, 1812, 1814, 1824, and 1842. The 1842 discovery was made in the vicinity of present-day Los Angeles by Francisco Lopez. Senior Lopez was digging onions in his garden when he noticed shiny flecks adhering to the roots. This discovery set off a small-local gold rush. Roughly $100,000 in gold was recovered from this find. But no international rush was set off and California quickly returned to its agricultural economy.
So, why did the 1848 discovery set off an international gold rush? There had been major changes in California and global politics in the six years since the previous discovery in 1842. The 1846 war between Mexico and the United States had altered the map of North America. California had been ceded by Mexico to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. That treaty would not reach Washington for ratification until after the actual discovery of gold but neither party suspected the mineral wealth which California
possessed when the agreement was entered into. Slow communications between Washington and the Pacific coast would keep the news from spreading for months to come.
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