- Gold rush
A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers into the area of a dramatic discovery of commercial quantities of
gold. Eight gold rushes took place throughout the 19th century in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States.
Gold rushes were typically marked by a general buoyant feeling of a "free for all" in income mobility, in which any single individual might become abundantly wealthy almost instantly. The significance of gold rushes in history has given a longer life to the term, and it is now applied generally to denote any capitalist economic activity in which the participants aspire to race each other in common pursuit of a new and apparently highly lucrative market, often precipitated by an advance in
Gold rushes helped spur permanent non-indigenous settlement of new regions and define a significant part of the culture of the North American and Australian frontiers. As well, at a time when
moneywas based on gold, the newly-mined gold provided economic stimulus far beyond the gold fields. Gold rushes presumably extend back as far as gold mining, to the Roman Empire, whose gold mining was described by Diodorus Siculusand Pliny the Elder, and probably further back to Ancient Egyptand Saudi Arabia.
Life cycle of a gold rush
Within each mining rush there is typically a transition through progressively higher capital expenditures, larger organizations, and more specialized knowledge. They may also progress from high-unit value to lower unit value minerals (from gold to silver to base metals).
The rush is often started by a discovery of placer gold made by an individual or small group. At first the gold may be washed from the sand and gravel by individual miners with little training, using a gold pan or similar simple instrument. Once it is clear that the volume of gold-bearing sediment is larger than a few cubic meters, the placer miners will build rockers or sluice boxes, with which a small group can wash gold from the sediment many times faster than using gold pans. "(See
placer miningfor details.)" Winning the gold in this manner requires almost no capital investment, only a simple pan or equipment that may be built on the spot, and only simple organization. The low investment, the high value per unit weight of gold, and the ability of gold dust and gold nuggets to serve as a medium of exchange, allow placer gold rushes to occur even in remote locations.
After the sluice-box stage, placer mining may become increasingly large scale, requiring larger organizations, and higher capital expenditures. Small claims owned and mined by individuals may need to be merged into larger tracts. Difficult-to-reach placer deposits may be mined by tunnels. Water may be diverted by dams and canals to placer mine active river beds or to deliver water needed to wash dry placers. The more advanced techniques of
ground sluicing, hydraulic mining, and dredging may be used.
Typically the heyday of a placer gold rush would last only a few years. The free gold supply in stream beds would become depleted somewhat quickly, and the initial phase would be followed by prospecting for veins of
lode goldthat were the original source of the placer gold. Hardrock mining, like placer mining, may evolve from low capital investment and simple technology to progressively higher capital and technology. The surface outcrop of a gold-bearing vein may be oxidized, so that the gold occurs as native gold, and the ore needs only to be crushed and washed (free milling ore). The first miners may at first build a simple arrastreto crush their ore; later, they may build stamp mills to crush ore more quickly. As the miners dig down, they may find that the deeper part of vein contains gold locked in sulfide or telluride minerals, which will require smelting. If the ore is still sufficiently rich, it may be worth shipping to a distant smelter (direct shipping ore). Lower-grade ore may require on-site treatment to either recover the gold or to produce a concentrate sufficiently rich for transport to the smelter. As the district turns to lower-grade ore, the mining may change from underground mining to large open-pit mining. Many silver rushes followed upon gold rushes. As transportation and infrastructure improve, the focus may change progressively from gold to silver to base metals. In this way, Leadville, Coloradostarted as a placer gold discovery, achieved fame as a silver-mining district, then relied on lead and zinc in its later days. Butte, Montanabegan mining placer gold, then became a silver-mining district, then became for a time the world’s largest copper producer.
North American Gold rushes
The first significant gold rush in the
United Stateswas the Georgia Gold Rushin the southern Appalachians, which started in 1829. It was followed by the California Gold Rushof 1848–49 in the Sierra Nevada, which captured the popular imagination. The California gold rush led directly to the settlement of California by Americans and the rapid entry of that state into the union in 1850. The gold rush in 1849 stimulated world-wide interest in prospecting for gold, and led to new rushes in Australia, South Africa, Walesand Scotland.- Successive gold rushes occurred in western North America, moving north and east from California: Fraser Canyon, the Cariboodistrict and other parts of British Columbia, and the Rocky Mountains. Resurrection Creek, near Hope, Alaskawas the site of Alaska's first gold rush more than a century ago, and placer miningcontinues today. [cite web|title=Resurrection Creek Restoration Phase II Project Environmental Impact Statement|url=http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-IMPACT/2008/January/Day-28/i347.htm|work=Environmental Protection Agency, US|date=2008-01-17|accessdate=2008-08-31] Other notable Alaska Gold Rushes were Nomeand the Fortymile River.
One of the last "great gold rushes" was the
Klondike Gold Rushin Canada's Yukon Territory (1898–99), immortalized in the novels of Jack London, the poetry of Robert W. Serviceand Charlie Chaplin's film " The Gold Rush". The main goldfield was along the south flank of the Klondike Rivernear its confluence with the Yukon Rivernear what was to become Dawson City in Canada's Yukon Territory but it also helped open up the relatively new US possession of Alaska to exploration and settlement and promoted the discovery of other gold finds.
The Klondike Gold Rush sparked the largest mobilization of goldseekers in history. Millions started on the journey although ultimately only a few hundred thousand reached the "Yukon Ports" or other disembarkation points such as Nome, Alaska,
Yakutat Bayand Stewart, British Columbia, for the long overland journey to the goldfields. Some hopeful disembarkation points such as Edmonton, Alberta, turned out to be impractical and only a handful made it by such routes. Only 35,000 finally reached what was to become Dawson City, at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, to be faced by famine, fire and some of the world's bitterest and darkest winters.
The Klondike Gold Rush brought prospectors to other locations in the Far North, with several other smaller rushes occurring as spin-offs. Three of the better-known of such rushes were in
Atlin, British Columbia(1898), and Nome (1898–99) and Fairbanks (1902), Alaska.
Australian Gold rushes
Victorian gold rush, which occurred in Australia in 1851 soon after the California gold rush, was the biggest of several Australian gold rushes. That gold rush was highly significant to Australia’s, and especially Victoria's and Melbourne's, political and economic development. With the Australian gold rushes came the construction of the first railways and telegraphlines, multiculturalismand racism, the Eureka Stockadeand the end of penal transportation. Many of those involved in mining in Victoria later travelled across the Tasman Seato take part in the Central Otago Gold Rush, New Zealand's biggest gold rush. This kick-started New Zealand's economy and made the city of Dunedina major financial center in the young colony.
In South Africa, the
Witwatersrand Gold Rushin the Transvaalwas equally important to that country's history, leading to the founding of Johannesburgand tensions between the Boers and British settlers.
South African gold production went from zero in 1886 to 23% of the total world output in 1896. At the time of the South African rush, gold production benefited from the newly discovered techniques by Scottish chemists, the MacArthur-Forrest process, of using
potassium cyanideto extract gold from low-grade ore.cite web | last=Micheloud | first=François | year=2004 | url=http://www.micheloud.com/FXM/MH/Crime/Gold.htm | title=The Crime of 1873: Gold Inflation this time | work=FX Micheloud Monetary History | publisher=François Micheloud: www.micheloud.com]
Notable gold rushes by date
Rushes of the 1690s
Brazil Gold Rush, Minas Gerais(1695) [cite encyclopedia|title=Gold rush|url=http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic-237388/gold-rush |encyclopedia= Encyclopædia Britannica|publisher= Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.|date=2008|accessdate=2008-08-31]
Rushes of the 1820s
Rushes of the 1840s
California Gold Rush, California(1848)
Rushes of the 1850s
Queen Charlottes Gold Rush, British Columbia, Canada(1850); the first of many British Columbia gold rushes
Victorian Gold Rush, Victoria, Australia
Collingwood – Aorere Valley Gold Rush, Collingwood, New Zealand (1856)
Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, British Columbia (1858–1861)
Rock Creek Gold Rush, British Columbia (1859–1860s)Clarifyme|date=March 2008
Pikes Peak Gold Rush, Pikes Peak, Colorado (1859)
Northern Nevada Gold Rush(from 1850 - 1934)Clarifyme|date=March 2008
Rushes of the 1860s
Idaho Gold Rush, also known as the Fort ColvilleGold Rush, near Colville, Washingtonstate (1860)
Cariboo Gold Rush, British Columbia (1862–65)
Stikine Gold Rush, British Columbia (1863)
Big Bend Gold Rush, British Columbia (1865—66)
Omineca Gold Rush, British Columbia (1869)
Wild Horse Creek Gold Rush, British Columbia (1860s),Clarifyme|date=March 2008
Central Otago Gold Rush, in Otago, New Zealand (1861–63)
Black Hills Gold Rush, Black Hillsof South Dakotaand Wyoming(1863, later extending into Montana)Clarifyme|date=March 2008
Eastern Oregon Gold Rush(1860s–1870s)Clarifyme|date=March 2008
Kildonnan Gold Rush, Sutherland, Scotland(1869)
Rushes of the 1870s
Cassiar Gold Rush, British Columbia, 1871
Palmer River Gold Rush, Palmer River, Queensland, Australia (1872)
Black Hills Gold Rush, The Black Hills, South Dakota(1874)
Bodie Gold Rush, Bodie, California (1876)
Hungen, Hesse, Germany(1877)
Rushes of the 1880s
Witwatersrand Gold Rush, Transvaal, South Africa(1886); the resulting influx of miners was one of the triggers of the Second Boer War
Cayoosh Gold Rushin Lillooet, British Columbia (1884—87)
Tulameen Gold Rushnear Princeton British ColumbiaClarifyme|date=March 2008
Rushes of the 1890s
Tierra del Fuego Gold Rush, Tierra del Fuego, southern Chileand ArgentinaClarifyme|date=March 2008
Cripple Creek Gold Rush, Cripple Creek, Colorado (1891)
Westralia Gold Rush, Kalgoorlie, Western AustraliaClarifyme|date=March 2008
Klondike Gold Rush, centered on Dawson City, Yukon, Canada (1896–1898)
Atlin Gold Rush, Atlin, British Columbia (1898)
Nome Gold Rush, Nome, Alaska(1898–99)
Rushes of the 1900s
Fairbanks Gold Rush, Fairbanks, Alaska (1902)
Goldfield Gold Rush, Goldfield, NevadaClarifyme|date=March 2008
Cobalt Silver Rush, 1903-5, Cobalt, Ontario, Canada
Porcupine Gold Rush, 1909-11, Timmins, Ontario, Canada– little known, but one of the largest in terms of gold mined, 67 million ounces as of 2001
Rushes of the 1970s
Upper Amazon Gold Rush, Upper Amazon region, Braziland PeruClarifyme|date=March 2008
Rushes of the 1980s
Amazon Gold Rush, Amazon region, BrazilClarifyme|date=March 2008 [cite web|author=Marlise Simons|title=In Amazon Jungle, a Gold Rush Like None Before |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE0D91038F936A15757C0A96E948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all |work= The New York Times|date=1988-04-25|accessdate=2008-08-31]
Rushes of the 2000s
Apuí Gold Rush, Apuí, Amazonas, Brazil (2006); [ [http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,464732,00.html Gold Rush in the Rainforest: Brazilians Flock to Seek their Fortunes in the Amazon] ] approximately 500,000 miners are thought to work in the Amazon's "garimpos" (gold mines). [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/brazil/story/0,,1987511,00.html Brazilian goldminers flock to 'new Eldorado'] ]
Gold mining in the United States
Gold mining in Alaska
* [http://objectofhistory.org/objects/intro/goldnugget/ Object of History: the Gold Nugget]
* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/goldrush PBS' American Experience: The Gold Rush]
* [http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/goldrush/ The Australian Gold Rush]
* [http://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/keys/webtours/GE_P2_5_EN.html Off to the Klondike! The Search for Gold] — Illustrated Historical Essay
* [http://www.mazatlandecimononico.com/fiebredeloro.html California Gold Rush; diggers in Mazatlan on their way to California]
* [http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/whaples.goldrush Article on the California Gold Rush from EH.NET's Encyclopedia]
* [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/ulsters-gold-rush-447844.html The Independent (7 May 2007): "Ulster's Gold Rush"]
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