Sacramento’s 7th gift to the world: Gold.

Well . . . OK, I admit it. The first gold nugget was not actually discovered in Sacramento, per se. James Marshall, on that fateful day in 1838, was up in Coloma Valley doing work on what would become Sutter’s Mill on the American River. But, as the post declaring Molly Ringwald as one of our gifts to the world makes clear, when the gift is cool enough, geographical exceptions are warranted. And this gift is definitely cool enough.

One little nugget of gold, and the world changed forever. Within a year of Marshall’s discovery, 80,000 immigrants came pouring into California – all in search of gold. Miners came from all over the world, and many never returned home. In some areas, they settled in mass numbers, transforming small towns into huge boom towns. The biggest boom town, San Francisco, grew from a population of 600 to 25,000 with a year.

It’s easy to understand how booms this substantial would hoist California’s economy to astonishing heights. By 1850 – just two years after the Gold Rush began – California had achieved statehood; an impressive accomplishment, given that just a few years earlier, California was a large and rural mass of land made up of mostly ranches, still licking its wounds from the Mexican American War.

Today California is one of the most populated and visited places in the world. Three out of four overseas tourists report that their primary purpose for coming to the United States is to visit our Golden State. And it all started with the discovery of gold. Now that truly is some kind of mettle.

Gold. Our gift to the world.

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