Gold Country Artwork

Sailing announcement for Packet Barque Orion

Advertisement poster reads:

FOR CALIFORNIA! November 1st. The Best Chance Yet! The A1 Packet Barque ORION, 450 Tons burthen, three years old, Coppered, and Copper Fastened, will sail, as above, for SAN FRANCISCO.

The Orion is a very fast sailer, she has two First Class Cabins on deck, one of which consists of two rooms, with State Rooms arranged on each side, admirably suited for Lady Passengers, or Gentlemen with their Wives; and an airy Second Cabin between decks, 54 by 27 feet, completely ventilated and lighted, and carpeted throughout; in fine, she is fitted up and furnished the most thorough, substantial, and tasteful manner, and commanded by Captain HENRY C. BUNKER, of FALMOUTH, a gentleman of long practical experience in the navigation of all the seas, bays, harbors, and rivers on the route.

The services of an able Surgeon and Physician have been secured. To such persons as have made up their minds to visit El Dorado, we would simply say, call and examine the Barque and her accomodations at her berth, at Lewis' Wharf.

For Freight or Passage apply to H.G.K. Calef, Nos. 5 and 6 Lewis' Wharf, or the Henry Lincoln & Co., 17 India Street, Boston, Oct. 10, 1849.

Old Dickinson Office, 52 Washington Street, Boston; C.C.P. Moody, Printer.

This poster is in the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

The Orion apparently left Boston on November 1, 1849 and made it to San Francisco. The following advertisement appeared on July 1, 1850 in the Daily Alta California newspaper (page 3) advertising the ship for sale! We're not sure what the story is behind this, but it makes one wonder. Did the crew abandon ship to go try their hand at the oil fields, prompting the need to auction it off? What do you think?

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Ad to sell the Orion, July 1, 1850 edition of the Daily Alta California
La Californie-Quadrille Brillant

This hand-colored political cartoon was published as a satirical image with inference to French citizens in California. It graced the cover of a piece of sheet music called "La Californie". The music (Quadrille Brillant) was used for square dancing. The image shows an ecstatic woman, at center, holding bags of gold. In background, at left, men and women crowd into a mine shaft under signage "Entree". In background, at right, men and women squeeze out of another mine shaft, dragging bags of gold, under signage "Sortie."

The music was written by French composer Amedée Urbain Louis Henry Joseph Artus (28 October 1815 – 26 March 1892). It was published in 1850.

The artwork is by Charles Amédée de Noé, known as Cham (January 26, 1818, – September 6, 1879), a French caricature artist and lithographer. This piece of art is in the holdings of the California State Library.

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Poster advertising the California Emigration Society

Advertisement stating:

Emigration to California! Do you want to go to California! If so, go and join the Company who intend going out the middle of March, or 1st of April next, under the charge of the California Emigration Society, in a first-rate Clipper Ship. The Society agreeing to find places for all those who wish it upon their arrival in San Francisco. The voyage will probably be made in a few months. - Price of passage will be in the vicinity of

ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS! Children in Proportion.

A number of families have already engaged passage. A suitable Female Nurse has been provided, who will take charge of Young Ladies and Children. Good Physicians, both male and female go in the Ship. It is hoped a large number of females will go, as Females are getting almost as good wages as males.

FEMALE NURSES get 25 dollars per week and board. SCHOOL TEACHERS 100 dollars per month. GARDNERS 60 dollars per month and board. LABORERS 4 to 5 dollars per day. BRICKLAYERS 6 dollars per day. HOUSEKEEPERS 40 dollars per month. FARMERS 5 dollars per day. SHOEMAKERS 4 dollars per day. Men and Women COOKS 40 to 60 dollars per month and board. MINERS are making from 3 to 12 dollars per day. FEMALE SERVANTS 30 to 50 dollars per month and board. Washing 3 dollars per dozen. MASONS 6 dollars per day. CARPENTERS 5 dollars per day. ENGINEERS 100 dollars per month, and as the quartz Crushing Mills are getting into operation all through the country, Engineers are very scarce. BLACKSMITHS 90 and 100 dollars per month and board.

The above prices are copied from late papers printed in San Francisco, which can be seen at my office. Having views of some 30 Cities throughout the State of California, I shall be happy to see all who will call at the office of the Society, 28 JOY'S BUILDING, WASHINGTON ST., BOSTON, and examine them. Parties residing out of the City, by enclosing a stamp and sending to the office, will receive a circular giving all the particulars of the voyage.

As Agents are wanted in every town and city of the New England States, Postmasters or Merchants acting as such will be allowed a certain commission on every person they get to join the Company. Good reference required. For further particulars correspond or call at the SOCIETY'S OFFICE, 28 Joy's Building, Washington St., Boston, Mass.

The image of this advertisement is referenced in the Huntington Library, but the image is not available online there. However, the image was incorporated into the book A Golden State available online from the University of California Press.

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Advertisement for packet ship Apollo

A broadside advertising passage to gold regions including an image of the sailing ship Apollo. This is a print on paper, engraving and letterpress 8 inches x 5 inches. It is part of the Robert B. Honeyman, Jr. Collection of Early Californian and Western American Pictorial Material at the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.

The following information comes from the "NoeHill in San Francisco" website.

National Register #91000561 - Apollo Storeship -

Sacramento and Battery Streets

The remains of the packet ship Apollo lie buried beneath the old Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Apollo was modified for use as a storeship in January of 1850. In imitation of the storeship Nlantic two blocks away, she was beached on the mudflats of the San Francisco waterfront. (Niantic was excavated and partially removed in 1978. Apollo has never been excavated.)

Apollo lay between Central Wharf and Howison's Pier, parallel to the wharves, with her bow facing inland. Her ballast was removed, her masts pulled, and a two story frame "barn" was erected to completely house over her decks. The barn was subdivided into stores and offices. Large doors were cut into the side of the hull and the interior was used as a warehouse. A stage, or wharf, built on the starboard side of the beached hulk, was connected to Central Wharf.

A small frame structure was built at the ship's stern facing Battery street. This housed the Apollo Saloon, a popular doughnut and coffee house. The Apollo Storeship and the "saloon" remained in business until destroyed by fire on May 4, 1851. The fire burned Apollo to a point just below the waterline at the turn of her bilge. Her cargo of unburned merchandise and a variety of burnt materials fell into her hull and into the mud and water. (Niantic, which burned in the same fire, was similarly preserved in mud.) After the fire, Apollo's burned hulk was covered by clean sand, and new structures were built atop the landfill.

The remains of Apollo, entombed in mud and sand along Sacramento street, were periodically uncovered in the 20th century as construction removed some of the fill that covered the ship's bones. In 1901, excavations for an elevator shaft encountered a portion of the hull. The construction of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco exposed nearly the entire interior of the ship as well as the tops of the charred pilings of the wharves which linked Apollo to the shore.

The last exposure of any portion of the ship was in 1925, when excavations at the rear of the bank, on the corner of Sacramento and Battery streets, exposed the stern and rudder as well as several Gold Rush artifacts.

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A page from Friedrich Gerstäcker's slender 32 page guide.

The following information about the rare book can be found on Dorothy Sloan's Rare Books Auction site:

Wood-engraved map of Northern California and the Gold Region showing as far north as Antelope River (north of Sacramento), above which is the notation “Gold”, and south to below the Almaden Quicksilver site, including San Francisco Bay. Neat line to neat line: 19.2 x 14.7 cm. Relief by hachures, shows drainage, mines, Sierra Nevada, California coast below San Francisco. Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 90.

This pamphlet by the German traveler is based on an issue of the California Herald published on December 26, 1848, and is essentially a guidebook. Gerstäcker provided information on crossing the Isthmus but recommended the Cape Horn route. He also warned Germans against the overland route. In addition to giving travel advice, the author described San Francisco and the gold region and provided quotations from various newspapers.

    Kurutz, “California as We Saw It”: Exploring the California Gold Rush, Section VII, Pt. 1 (“The World Rushed In”) describes the rare map: “Gerstäcker’s slender guide is open to a beautiful untitled map of Northern California showing the gold district. The German traveler gave information on recommended routes and what to expect upon arriving in San Francisco and the mines.”

    According to the text of the present work, the map was prepared by an American Army officer, Artillery Lt. Loeser, who bore Mason’s famous dispatch to Washington announcing the discovery of gold in California. Wheat gives the source of the map as Lieutenant Ord’s 1848 map, Topographical Sketch of the Gold & Quicksilver District of California, July 25th 1848 (Maps of the California Gold Region 54: “This was the first map to make any pretense at cartographical accuracy after the gold discoveries”). As noted in the title of the present work, Gerstäcker’s map was based on the map that appeared in the December 26, 1848, issue of the short-lived California Herald, which was a special issue of the New York Herald with up-to-moment dispatches of the exciting California news. The 1848 California Herald map was entitled Gold and Quicksilver District of California and measured 34.3 x 25.5 cm, and it was based on Ord’s map. Wheat describes the California Herald 1848 map as: “An important map of exceptional rarity” (Maps of the California Gold Region 44). Gerstäcker’s map, closely based on the California Herald map, incorporates all the geographical features, but in reduced format. The same map was used in all editions of Gerstäcker’s guide. Richard T. Stillson, Spreading the Word: A History of Information in the California Gold Rush (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) includes an illustration of the map that appeared in the California Herald (p. 20) and comments generally on the importance of maps in the media during the Gold Rush: “Maps became one of the most important types of publications that conveyed information to goldrushers, and this one was the first detailed map of the gold region published on newspapers.”

    Adventurer, traveller, and schlockspinner Friedrich Gerstäcker (1816-1872), a native of Hamburg and the son of two opera singers, left Germany in 1837 for a six-year stay in the United States. After his return to Germany, he began publishing accounts of life there. He returned to the recently reconfigured United States in 1849, which resulted in this guide to the California Gold Rush. Although the present work is simply a reworked German version of the Herald account, Gerstäcker would go on to write his own first-hand, lengthy account of California, which he visited between September 1849 and November 1850. He prospected for gold and set up a store at Feather River. The third and last of the author’s work on the United States was on California, entitled Gold (1858). In the American edition, he declared with his usual verve and insight:

This California is unique in the history of the world–I myself could not have chosen a more favorable land, no more propitious time in which to collect material for a lifetime than California. Gold, Gold, is the slogan.

    He wrote prolifically and convincingly in the genre of popular travel and adventure, basing his stories on his own wanderlust experiences in North and South America, the South Seas and the Middle East, charming his readers with electrifying prose, thrilling plots, and insightful social and political observations. In his works on the United States, he was a true purveyor of The American Dream.

    In the present work, we find our author in a rare nuts-and-bolts perspective on one of the most incredible events of the nineteenth century. Even without his customary verbal coloratura, there is little doubt that this basic guide gleaned from the Herald launched many a Teutonic gold-seeker toward California. The work had the advantage of employing actual, accurate information from California in the early stage of the Gold Rush, the size was right, and the cost of the guide at the time was inexpensive (5 Sgr., i.e., five Silbergroschen, corresponding to about a sixth of the Thaler). Surely one reason for the rarity and number of editions of the guide is that it was literally used up by armchair and real travellers who joined the California Gold Rush frenzy in reality or voyeuristically.

    Of Gerstäcker’s immense output of publications, the present Gold Rush guide is the rarest and, perhaps, the most influential in respect to American emigration.

The image above is from the collections of the California State Library.

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The image above comes from the Andromeda Print Emporium website. It is a reproduction of the original advertisement that stated:


1,000 Tons Register, KELLY, Commander, Is now Receiving her Cargo at PIER 36, E.R., AND WILL SAIL AS ABOVE.

The "MONTANA" has just been finished in the most substantial and elegant manner, and is intended expressly for business on the Pacific Coast. A Limited Quantity of Freight will be taken at Moderate Rates, permits for which will be issued by the undersigned.

For Freight or Passage, (having superior first-class accommodations,) Apply to CORNELIUS COMSTOCK & CO., 96 WALL STREET. Agents at San Francisco, Messrs. Dibblee & Hyde.

The Montana's original construction is referenced in a New York Times article from February 26, 1865. It says "The fine steamship Montana, built for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, was launched yesterday morning from the shipyard of WEBB & BELL, foot of G-street, Greenpoint. The Montana is of 1,000 tons burden and of the following dimensions; length, 330 feet; breadth of beam, 43 feet 6 inches; depth of hold, 27 feet. The materials used in the construction of the vessel have been selected with the greatest care, and the workmanship is of the best kind. The engines will be furnished by the Novelty Works. This is the fourth steamship built by WEBB & BELL for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company within the last ten years. The company now own the following vessels: North Star, Costa Rica and Ocean Queen, which run to this side of the Isthmus and connect with the Sacramento, Golden City, Golden Age and Montana. The Montana will probably replace the Golden City.

An article from the Daily Alta California (shown below) appeared on November 28, 1866.

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Excerpt from November 28, 1866 Daily Alta California
Sailing card for Young America

This clipper ship sailing card is part of the collection of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. It reads:

Sutton & Co's Dispatch Line For San Francisco. 110, 110, 107, 117 Days' Passage! The famous & celebrated A 1 First-Class New York Built Clipper Ship YOUNG AMERICA, Cummings, Master, is receiving her cargo at Pier 12 East River, (Old Slip.)

The Ships of this Line insure at the lowest rates, and are dispatched quicker than any other from N.Y. to San Francisco. This popular ship has made the above short passages, and the fine condition of delivering her cargoes is too well known to be repeated. All freight intended for her should be sent immediately alongside, SUTTON & CO., 58 South St., cor. Wall.

The Young America is a pretty famous sailing ship. Its sailing history is quite lengthy, spanning 33 years. The Smithsonian American History museum has an article about Young America.

You might also find this collection of sailing cards and article about them interesting. Wikimedia also has a collection of sailing card images.

On October 21, 1854, the Daily Alta California  had several announcements regarding one of the arrivals in San Francisco of the Young America. These announcements are shown below.

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Excerpts from October 21, 1854 Daily Alta California
Newspaper notice of interest meeting regarding emigration to California

TAKE NOTICE, Ho! for California!

A Meeting of the Citizens of the Village of Canajoharie and its vicinity, will be held at the house of T. W. Bingham, on FRIDAY EVENING, the 19th inst., at early candle light, for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of forming a company to proceed to California, and mining for GOLD. All who feel interested on the subject are requested to attend.

MANY CITIZENS, Canajoharie, Jan. 16, 1849.

Canajoharie is a town in east-central New York state. This image is from the collection of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. It is an ad in a newspaper inviting people to join a group to go to California.

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Article from March 15, 1848 Californian

This article was published in the Californian on March 15, 1848. This edition of the newspaper can be viewed here.

The Californian was first published in Monterey, California on August 15, 1846, by Alcalde Walter Colton and his friend Robert B. Semple, from a well-used Ramage printing press that Agustín V. Zamorano brought from Hawaii to Monterey in 1834. Zamorano used it to print books, letterheads and proclamations, but not a newspaper. When Commodore Robert F. Stockton arrived in Monterey with the American naval invasion in July 1846, he found the printing press stored in the Custom House and notified Colton.

The Californian moved to Yerba Buena, as San Francisco was then called, in mid-1847. The city was about to undergo rapid changes as the California gold rush got underway. The newspaper did not report about the discovery of gold because word spread so quickly from person to person. The Californian was forced to shut down May 29, 1848, because its entire staff had departed for the gold fields. Its rival newspaper, the California Star run by Mormon Samuel Brannan and Edward C. Kemble, suspended publication for the same reason on June 14.

Both The Californian and the California Star were bought in 1848 and their printing equipment was combined into one publication, the Alta Californian.[2] Finding that one printing press was sufficient, the older press from Monterey was moved by Kemble to Sacramento to print the Placer Times beginning in April 1849.[2] Kemble wished to preserve the press in a museum, but sold it to an Englishman, H. H. Radcliffe, who used it in Stockton to print the Stockton Times and Tuolumne City Intelligencer from mid-1850 to April 1851.[2] Radcliffe also used the old press to print the Sonora Herald for Dr. Gunn beginning in July 1850. Gunn eventually bought out Radcliffe. In October 1851, Gunn sold the press to George Washington Gore who brought the equipment to Columbia, California to print the Columbia Star.[2] Gunn regained possession in November when Gore was unable to pay the balance of the purchase price. The old press was brought to Sonora, California to be displayed as a museum piece, and was soon lost there to one of the many fires that destroyed the town before 1858.[2]

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Sailing card for clipper ship California

An advertisement announcing "A NEW AND MAGNIFICENT CLIPPER FOR SAN FRANCISCO. MERCHANT'S EXPRESS LINE OF CLIPPER SHIPS! Loading none but First-Class Vessels and Regularly Dispatching the great number. THE SPLENDID NEW OUT-AND-OUT CLIPPER SHIP CALIFORNIA, HENRY BARBER, Commander, AT PIER 13 EAST RIVER This elegant Clipper Ship was built expressly for this trade by Samuel Hall, Esq., of East Boston, the builder of the celebrated Clippers “SURPRISE,” “GAMECOCK,” “JOHN GILPIS,” and others, She will fully equal them in speed! Unusually prompt dispatch and very quick trip may be relied upon. Engagements should be completed at once. Agents in San Francisco. Msmmrs, DE WITT KITTLE & CO. RANDOLPH M. COOLEY, 88 Wall Street, Tontine Building".

This item is held by the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

An interesting website providing history of clippers can be viewed here.

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Sailing notice for ship Duxbury

This is an advertisement stating "The Best Chance Yet, for CALIFORNIA! Passage $125.... To Sail Feb. 1st. The Superior, Fast Sailing, Newly Coppered SHIP DUXBURY, Wm. C. Varina, Master, Will sail as above, from the North side of Union Wharf. This Ship will take out a House and Store for the use of the Passengers there, free of charge for one month after arrival. Those wishing to take their families with them will improve this opportunity, as she will have a Cabin fitted up expressly for Ladies! A Regular Physician goes out in the Ship. Six or eight Passengers can be taken forward at $100. For Freight or Passage apply to Chas. H. Coffin, 13 Dock Square, corner of Elm Street, Boston. The fine Barque "CARTHAGE" will succeed the DUXBURY, to Sail on the 20th of February. For Freight or Passage apply as above. Propeller Power Presses, 142 Washington St., Boston.

The Maritime Heritage website has the following additional information about the Duxbury.

The Duxbury was owned by the Harvard Company and sailed from Boston on February 9, 1849, and arrived in San Francisco, August 22, 1849 after 194 days. The captain was W.C. Varina. The Duxbury ultimately wrecked off the California coast just north of San Francisco. Duxbury Reef off Bolinas was named for this vessel.

To lessen the tedium of months at sea, The Harvard Company had fun with everything, even their own complaints. The first issue of their handwritten newspaper, the Petrel, presented their version of Oh Susanna: "Oh, Ship Duxbury, you are the ship for me, you are the greatest humbug that's floating on the sea." The Petrel's contents ran to doggerel, undergraduate humor, and stylish bitching. A want ad requested a set of dentures for a passenger who had lost his original teeth chewing hardtack. The "Committee on Three Meals a Day" announced its motto as "Bread or Blood." The Petrel also reported that some passengers were so disheartened by the poor food and slow progress that there was talk of an expedition across the Andes from Rio to the Pacific. Later in the year a party of Frenchmen actually tried this, leaving their ship at Buenos Aires and trekking to Valparaiso, Chile, but when they arrived their ship had already come and gone.

From Gold Dust

Donald Dale Jackson

Alfred Knopf, 1980

A journal by passenger William H. De Costa was written from February 9 to August 22, 1849. In his first entry he indicated he was not going to California "filled with big hopes of a speedy return, bent down with a burden of gold" like his fellow passengers. Rather he was going with "a small hope of doing something - what, I may not tell." The ship made stops at Rio de Janeiro and the Island of Juan Fernandez. He wrote long descriptions of both places although that of Rio de Janeiro was written after June 24 while the stop was in April. His numerous long descriptions of happenings included a visit from King Neptune on March 25. Two days after arriving at San Francisco he "went to work in the office of the Pacific News intending by so doing to realize a fortune in a few days."

The following additional information came from regarding another handwritten newspaper aboard the Duxbury.

The Shark seems to be the first handwritten newspaper aboard the Duxbury. Extant copies of The Petrel, published on the Duxbury apparently during the same voyage, were possibly published after the ship’s layover at Rio, although the issue numbering suggests that both papers may have been published contemporaneously.

According to Lewis, the Duxbury left Boston for the California gold fields in February, 1849, carrying the Old Harvard Company, one of the hundreds of New England joint-stock companies organized to capitalize on the gold of California. One writer states that during 1849, 102 joint stock companies sailed from Massachusetts alone, the number of their members ranging from five to 180, the average being around 50, and their total exceeding 4,200. Each member paid an equal sum into the common treasury. Each had an equal voice in its management and stood to reap an equal share of the profits. Often there was also a board of directors, chosen from among the town’s leaders, older men who helped finance the expeditions, but who remained at home. (Lewis, p. 22).

One passenger observed that there was “too much praying on board.” Each morning the Duxbury’s preacher, the Rev. Brierly, read a chapter from the Bible, offered a prayer, and delivered a brief sermon. On Wednesdays he presided over a prayer meeting; on Sundays he preached “a full-length sermon” and followed this with a class discussion group; on Tuesdays and Fridays he conducted a lyceum. This was during the early stages of the voyage; later this comprehensive program collapsed, as it did on so many other ships, and during the final weeks of the Duxbury’s company seems to have been without religious instruction of any kind.

Hard feelings developed between officers and passengers aboard the Duxbury on the first leg of its voyage. The chief complaint was against the food and the manner of service. The Duxbury, an ancient three-masted craft, so hard to maneuver that she was said to require all of Massachusetts Bay in which to turn, left Boston so loaded that the galley space was inadequate. After a week of subsisting on two sparse meals a day, the passengers met and made known their grievances. For a long time their protests were disregarded. “Petition after petition was sent in to the captain without producing any other effect than the reply, ‘If it is not enough, go without.'” The group continued on short rations–“we were allowed one-half pint of weak tea a day and three pounds of sugar a month’–until the Duxbury reached Rio. There a committee of passengers related their troubles to the United States Consul. The result was that the capacity of the galley was ordered enlarged and the passengers thereafter fared rather better.

Lewis notes that this and other shipboard newspapers (see, e.g., BarometerThe Emigrant, and The Petrel) “lacked the formality of print but more nearly approached conventional journalism” than the various travel journals and diaries kept during the voyages.

Information Sources:

Bibliography: Oscar Lewis, Sea Routes to the Gold Fields: The Migration by Water to California in 1849-1852 (New York: A.A. Knopf, 1949), pp. 22-29, 89-92

Locations: Four numbers at the Huntington Library, Manuscripts Division, San Marino, CA; accompanies the published Journal of the Duxbury Voyage, Boston-San Francisco, by William H. DeCosta, 1849, Feb.-June 23 (HM 234)

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California, or, The Feast of Gold. A New Comic Song was published in London by R. Macdonald, 30, Great Sutton Street and was composed by Henry Valentine. The copy shown here is held in the collections of The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection in the Johns Hopkins University Library. A PDF version of the music can be downloaded at the link above.

The lyrics (which reflect cultural sentiments from over a century and a half ago) are:

Oh! list to the Yankee proclamation!

"The smartest nation in all creation,"

Has issued a gen'ral invitation

To folks of ev'ry denomination,


To cross the main, and drain, and strain,

And share in the feast,

the wondrous feast of gold.

Then list! oh, list, you Englishmen!

Ye Scotchmen, too, from hill and glen!

Let the Irish echo repeat the strain!

To raise the wind, and the means obtain,


In California, all men agree,

Large fortunes are made with certainty,

In a day or two, or at furthest three;

Be quick, then, folks of every degree,


Don't stop to doff your shoes or hose,

But jump in the river with all your clothes;

Fortune lies beneath your toes,

Though how she came there - nobody knows;


A sieve, a pickaxe, and a spade,

Are all you need for stock in trade;

You can purchase a hop-sack ready made;

When full, you'll rejoice you were not afraid


A blow of your shovel - a poke of your pick,

Brings a lump of gold, like a Chinese brick;

Take what you can, and cut your stick,

And send for your poor relations quick,


'Tis a harem-scarem, scrambling battle -

N-----s, navvies, and half-starved cattle;

The mother is deaf to her infant's prattle,

And snatches its cradle, the mud to rattle,


I've told you the newest New Year's news,

'Twas first found out by the Mexican crews;

The Yankees are getting as rich as Jews,

And all are at liberty, who choose,


This is no "Great Sea-Serpent" tale,

Though it sounds, I own, "very like a whale,"

There's gold galore, both "grain" and "scale,"

And cockneys are sailing off wholesale,


But the Yankees, for me, their fibs may cram on;

When I wade in a lake, it shall be for salmon;

I'm not so "considerably" fond of mammon,

To be lured by Brother Jonathon's gammon,


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View of the Playa Prieta, Panama

Printed below the drawing: View of the Playa Prieta, Panama. Shewing the Launch of the French Steamer Colibri, Novr 27th, 1850 (the first steamer constructed in the Republic of New Granada). Drawn on the spot; (LR): Day & Son, Lith[ographe]rs to The Queen.

The scene shows a tropical beach front and bay with a large crowd gathered for the launching ceremony of a sidewheel steamship standing on the beach, with natives in the foreground.

This drawing is in the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

News of the new steamship Colibri traveled with another steamship (the Northerner) to San Francisco and was published in the Daily Alta California on December 30, 1850 as shown below.

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Excerpt from December 30, 1850 Daily Alta California
Humorous Currier illustration of an "India-Rubber Railway to California"

This illustration is titled "Grand Patent India-Rubber Air Line Railway to California." Underneath the title:


FROM THE ATLANTIC TO THE PACIFIC, THROUGH IN NO TIME. The principle of this Railway is such that if the Passengers are nicely balanced both in mind and body, all that is necessary to land them at the "Gold diggins" is to cut the line on the Atlantic side, then by one jerk they reach in safety their place of destination. Reverse the above and they are back again. N.B. What is claimed in this patent, is having discovered the immense expansion and contraction of India Rubber.

Lith. and Pub. by N. Currier, Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1849 by N. Currier, in the clerk's office of the District Court of the Southern District of N.Y., 152 Nassau St. Cor. of Spruce N.Y.

Handwritten at the bottom is "Deposited in the clerk's office So. Dist. N.Y. April 10, 1849.

The people sitting on the rubber line have "thought bubbles" reading, from left to right:

  • It looks awful foggy ahead, yet I think I see something shiney at the other end. Bless me he is cutting away; when it goes, I hope it wont jerk my head off. (Conductor and Agent California)
  • If that chap dont mind his eye I'll lam him.
  • Hold on tight, he is going to cut.
  • O Lord deliver us from evil.
  • Och! Teddy darlint dont ye feel quare to be shtraddlin a sthring?
  • Faix and I do. Judy, but howld on tight and we'll sthraddle the lumps of gowld fornent the whole pack o'f thim.
  • Who's afraid, I aint.
  • Vhot a peeples! Vhot a peeples!
  • One, two, three, four and five, off they go all alive

From the Railroad Heritage website:

A hand-colored lithograph made in New York City by Nathaniel Currier. The cartoon image features eight persons and a dog astride a giant rubber band attached to a pole that rises from a domed building. It mocks several trends of the day (Gold Rush fever, new latex technology, railroad aspirations, industrial competitiveness, and Irish xenophobia) and places the image in a fashionable Hudson River valley landscape.

Balloon captions appear above each of the passengers and the worker with the implement to severe the rubber band, but not above the man riding an express "balloon" in the upper left corner. The conductor at the front of the rubber rope wears an "Indian Rubber" slicker. The passengers carry picks and shovels; one has an umbrella and another a rifle and dog. The Irish smoke clay pipes, the Englishman smokes a meerschaum pipe. Americans' affection for self-mockery is evident in this print. The texts capture the themes of Gold Rush fever, Western expansion, railway and technological mania, and uneasiness over immigration. The art captures Americans' interest in their expansive landscapes. Currier usually is associated with sentimental, historical and "quintessential" American prints, not with cartoon images. The caricaturized figures, who exemplify varied social classes and classifications, contrast with the serious Hudson-river-style-landscape and cityscape below the travelers. The image is timely, funny, and beautiful all at once.

This item is held in the Library of Congress.

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Crossing the Isthmus

Chaotic scene showing travelers making their way through a tropical landscape; donkeys and horses throw passengers and drop cargo; natives carry westerners on their backs and pull their dogs; a woman is shown among the group.

This lithograph is attributed to British artist Francis Samuel Marryat and lithographer J. Brandard. It is held by the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

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Sailing card for clipper ship Susan Fearing

A sailing card notification for the clipper ship Susan Fearing. The announcement says:

Merchants' Express Line of Clipper Ships. For San Francisco. None but A1 fast sailing vessels loaded in this line.

The elegant A1 Clipper Ship SUSAN FEARING, H. Newcomb, Commander, is rapidly loading at PIER 9 E.R.

This magnificent vessel is one of Paul Curtis' best, and is only one year old. Has made the trip from London to New York in 19 Days, beating everything sailing with her. She is fitted up in splendid order for the voyage to San Francisco, and will sail very promptly.

RANDOLPH M. COOLEY, {handwritten 88 Wall], Cor. Wall, Tontine Building. Agents in San Francisco, Messrs. De Witt, Kittle & Co.

(On the Sail) - For San Francisco Clipper Ship SUSAN FEARING For freight apply to Randolph M. Cooley, 118 Water St.

According to the Wrecksite website, the Susan Fearing was built in 1861, later sold and re-christened as the Constantia, and on October 16, 1882 it collided with another ship (SS City of Antwerp) and both ships sank.

This item is held in the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

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John Augustus Sutter, Sr.

This 3/4 length portrait painting of John Augustus Sutter, Sr. in his military uniform is 19 inches by 14.75 inches. The artist is unknown. It is held in the collections of the California State Library.

Bill of Sale to John Bidwell from John Sutter

The beginnings of Sutter's plan to found a new town southwest of his fort and south of his embarcadero is recorded with this sales receipt of lots sold to Bidwell for one dollar. However, with the influx of gold seekers and the cunning of Sam Brannan, the founding of nearby Sacramento City doomed Sutter's dream. This remarkable document includes the signatures of Sutter, pioneer George McKinstry, guidebook writer Lansford Hastings, and pioneer newspaperman, Edward C. Kemble.

This Bill of Sale to John Bidwell is held by the California State Library and can be accessed here.

Sutters Fort

This print of an engraving by J. H. Richardson of Sutter's Fort is part of the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. The print is 6 inches by 9 inches and shows the entrance to Sutter's Fort through a high wall. The U.S. flag flies over the main building while soldiers stand in line and men on horseback ride in the foreground.

The lithograph is based on an 1846 sketch by Lt. J. W. Revere of the U.S. Navy (shown below). The sketch is in the collection of the Sutter's Fort State Historic Park.

1846 sketch of Sutter's Fort by Lt. J. W. Revere
Sketch of Joseph Ballinger Chiles

This photograph of a sketch of Joseph Ballinger Chiles is in the collection of the Napa County Historical Society. The original may be held in the collections of the California State Library, but no electronic access was located.

Bidwell Mansion

The most similar picture to the one on display that is available online is on the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park website.

According to this website:

Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park is a beautiful, three-story, 26 room Victorian House Museum that stands as a memorial to John and Annie Bidwell. John Bidwell was known throughout California and across the nation as an important pioneer, farmer, soldier, statesman, politician and philanthropist. Annie Ellicott Kennedy Bidwell, the daughter of a socially prominent, high ranking Washington official, was deeply religious, and committed to a number of moral and social causes. Annie was very active in the suffrage and prohibition movements.

The Bidwell's were married April 16, 1868 in Washington, D.C. with then President Andrew Johnson and future President Ulysses S. Grant among the guests. Upon arrival in Chico, the Bidwell's used the Mansion extensively for entertainment of friends. Some of the guests that visited Bidwell Mansion were President Rutherford B. Hayes, General William T. Sherman, Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Governor Stanford, John Muir, and Asa Gray.

When constructed, Bidwell Mansion featured the most modern plumbing, gas lighting and water systems. The overall style of the three-story brick structure is that of an Italian Villa, an informal, warmly romantic style. The building's exterior is finished with a pink tinted plaster.

Mary Murphy Covillaud with her daughter and niece

This 5 inch by 7 inch photograph is in the collections of the Yuba County Library. Mary Covillaud is Marysville's namesake and survivor of the Donner Party expedition. In the picture, which was reproduced from an old fashioned daguerrotype of 1850, Mary Murphy Covillaud is shown with her daughter, Mary Ellen, left, who later became Mrs. Waldron, and a niece, Naomi, who became Mrs. Schenck.

From the web page of the Mary Covillaud Elementary School:

Teenage Mary Murphy, who survived the Donner Party disaster of 1847, settled at Sutter's Fort. Mary met and married a gentleman by the name of Charles Covillaud and then moved to his ranch located in the Marysville area of Yuba County, California. Mary was considered to be the first white woman to set foot on the soil where Marysville now stands. At a public meeting, Charles Covillaud had the town named Marysville, in honor of his bride. Mary was a kind and generous intellect and possessed a kind, generous and noble disposition. All who knew her loved her.

Patrick Breen

Patrick Breen was born in Ireland in about 1806. He moved to the United States and settled in Iowa. In 1846 Breen, his wife Margaret Breen, and their seven children joined the Donner Party. Following their rescue, the Breen family settled at Sutter's Fort before moving to San Benito County. In 1847 Patrick Breen published the diary he had kept during his experiences as a member of the Donner Party. He died on December 21, 1868.

This tiny photograph of Patrick Breen is part of the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Lewis Keseberg

Lewis Keseberg is arguably one of the more controversial members of the Donner Party. According to the Sierra College website, it was Keseberg who was reported to be the first to resort to cannibalism. Furthermore, it was speculated that Keseberg had precipitated the deaths of the six weakest party members, including several children, in order to consume their flesh. It was rumored that Keseberg had confided that he preferred the taste of human flesh over California beef. Keseberg denied it all. He sued for slander those who had accused him of this gruesome behavior. The judgment in the defamation case was muted. Keseberg was granted $1 in damages -- but had to pay the court costs. Despite Keseberg’s protests, the accusers were numerous and convincing. Most observers feel that Keseberg was guilty of these atrocities, but no formal findings of guilt or innocence were ever issued.

Charles McGlashan interviewed Keseberg twice. McGlashan concluded that Keseberg had not murdered the young boy Tamsen Donner and of, in McGlashan’s words, “his comparative blamelessness in many other matters.” Few agreed with this conclusion.

Lewis Keseberg died in 1895 at age 81. Almost every obituary mentioned “Keseberg” and “cannibalism” in the same breath.

You can read the interview with Keseberg reported by Charles McGlashan as part of the research he did for his History of the Donner Party, published in 1879. This book can be read for free at Project Gutenberg or downloaded free from Google books.

This photograph of Keseberg is in the collection of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Sacramento in 1849

The caption for this artwork reads "Sacramento City, Ca. from the foot of J. Street, showing I., J., & K. Sts. with the Sierra Nevada in the distance." C. Parsons; drawn Dec. 20th 1849 by G.V. Cooper; lith. of Wm. Endicott & Co., N. York.

Sacramento's rise from settlement to state capital began with the discovery of gold in January 1848, some fifty miles northeast at John Sutter's sawmill. Situated along the Sacramento and American Rivers, the city became the gateway to the California gold fields. Print publishers all around the country produced views of the new city, both to encourage more visitors and to sell prints. Local businesses depicted in the image supported the publication by paying an advertising fee. Prominent buildings identified by letter with key below image.

A - Hensley, Redding & Co.

B - Peoples Market

C - T. McDowell & Co.

D - S. Taylor

E - Round tent (S. Weeks)

F - Montgomery & Warbous (Zinx? Store)

G - Myrick Nelson & Co.

H - The Gem

I - Desperker Brothers

J - Machonikins

K - Oregon Bowling Saloon

L - Colton Hoxie & Co.

M - R.M. Gessup & Co.

N - Robert M. Folger

O - Barnes Hotel

P - Van Dornis Hotel

Q - Gondola

R - H. R. Robinson & Co. (Post Office)

S - Empire

T - Mansion House (formerly S. Brannon's Store)

U - United States Hotel

V - J. B. Starr & Co.

W - Jackson's Hotel

X - Lount & Co. Express Office

George Victor Cooper (1810 - 1878) was a landscape and portrait painter, sculptor, lithographer, and cameo cutter. As early as 1835-36, he had moved from New Jersey to New York City and remained there until 1849, but eventually went west to California.

By 1851, Cooper returned to New York City and worked there until his death. In 1865 he painted a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

This picture is available from the Library of Congress.

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Depicted as cargo in the hold of a ship in the harbor of Sacramento City, the photo of this chandelier is in the collections of the Library of Congress.

It is part of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and is a Dining Room Chandelier of Tudor Place, 1644 Thirty-first Street, Northwest, Washington, DC.

Tudor Place was home to six generations of Martha Washington’s descendants from 1805 to 1983 and the enslaved workers and servants who lived and worked here. With over 18,000 decorative objects, including the largest Washington Collection outside of Mount Vernon, Tudor Place sits on 5 ½ acres in the heart of Georgetown.

Tudor Place is an unusual, perhaps unique, execution of late Federal period architecture, designed by William Thornton. Tudor Place also possesses outstanding historical significance for its association with prominent nineteenth-century personages and its roles at the center of nineteenth-century Georgetown social life, and its extensive archives documenting early two hundred years of upper class lifestyle. Having been continually owned by the Peter Family until the death of Armstead Peter, III, Tudor Place, in addition, has a rare degree of integrity in terms of the building and grounds, and possessions (especially those associated with George and Martha Washington). The formal garden north of the house and the expansive lawn south of the house also reflect nearly two hundred years of American garden design....

Small Parlor Grand Piano

Presented as part of the cargo of a ship in the harbor of Sacramento City, this Small Parlor Grand Piano was designed and manufactured by Henry F. Miller & Sons Piano Co., of Boston, Mass. The photograph was used for advertising in 1890 and is in the collection of the Library of Congress.

View of the Steamboat Landing, Sacramento City, from K Street, L Street, and M Street

Only the top half of this illustration is displayed in the Trail Center. The artist is Joshua H. Peirce and the publisher is Conner & Forrest Stationers, while the printer is Charles E. Peregoy. This is a pen and ink drawing on paper measuring 10.5 inches by 16.5 inches.

This is a view of the waterfront area looking from the river, with buildings (Brannan State House), and pedestrians on the bank. The sidewheel steamships "Senator" and "Jenny Lynd" are at the dock with various sailboats, rowboats, and barges on the Sacramento River.

From wikipedia:

The Senator was a wooden, side-wheel steamship built in New York in 1848. She was one of the first steamships on the California coast and arguably one of the most commercially successful, arriving in San Francisco at the height of the gold rush. She was the first ocean-going steamer to sail up the Sacramento River to reach the new gold fields. After more purpose-built river steamers became available, Senator began a 26-year long career sailing between San Francisco and Southern California ports. Age and improving technology finally made the ship unsuitable for passenger service by 1882. Her machinery was removed and she was converted into a coal hulk. She ended her days in New Zealand, where she was broken up sometime around 1912.

The Jenny Lind was advertised in the June 3, 1851 Sacramento Transcript as beginning regular passage between San Francisco and Alviso (near San Jose), as shown below. The article that follows appeared in the April 12, 1853 Daily Alta California.

This illustration is held in the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Newspaper references to the Jenny Lind Steamshp
A bird's-eye view of Sacramento: the city of the plain

A bird's-eye view of Sacramento [California]: the city of the plain, published by George Holbrook Baker, and Britton & Rey, lithographer. This is a print on paper mounted on board, 31.5 inches by 39.5 inches.

The city is seen from above, including the Sacramento River with the waterfront area, ships, steamships, barges, etc. in the foreground. Marginal views include local businesses, churches, public buildings, hotels, theaters, and industry. It also includes a view of Sutter's Fort in 1846 and Sacramento in 1849.

This image is from the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. The gallery below shows closeups of all the elements of this print.

This proclamation can be viewed and downloaded from the California State Library.

View of San Francisco, formerly Yerba Buena, in 1846-7 before the discovery of gold

This painting is in the collection of the Library of Congress. It is 17 inches by 20.5 inches, designed and copied from views taken at the time. Under the title is the statement "We the undersigned hereby certify that this picture is a faithful and accurate representation of San Francisco as it really appeared in March 1847." It is signed by J. D. Stevenson (Commanding 1st Regt. of N.Y. Vols. in the War with Mexico), Gen. M. G. Vallejo, George Hyde (First Alcalde Dist. of San Francisco 1846-7), and Capt. W. F. Swasey (A continuous resident since 1845).

The illustration is intended to serve as a reference for points of interest, which are indicated below:

A - U.S.S. "Portsmouth"

B - U.S. Transport ships "Loo Choo", Susan Drew", and "Thomas Perkins", They brought the first regiment of New York vols.

C - Ship "Vandalia" - merchantman consigned to Howard & Mellus.

D - Coasting Schooner

E - Launch "Luce", belonging to James Lick.

1 - Custom House

2 - Calaboose

3 - School House

4 - Alcalde's Office

5 - City Hotel owned by Wm. A. Leidesdorff

6 - Portsmouth Hotel

7 - Wm. H. Davis' Store

8 - Howard & Mellus Store. The old Hudson Bay Co.'s building.

9 - W. A. Leidesdorff's Warehouse

10 - Samuel Brannan's Residence

11 - W. A. Leidesdorff's Cottage

12 - First Residence of the Russ family

13 - John Sullivan's Residence

14 - Peter T. Sherback's Residence

15 - Juan C. Davis' Residence

16 - G. Reynold's Residence

17 - A. J. Ellis Boarding House

18 - Fitch & McKurley's building

19 - Capt. Vioget's Residence

20 - John Fuller's Residence

21 - Jesus Noe's Residence

22 - Juan N. Padilla's Residence

23 - A. A. Andrew's Residence

24 - Capt. Antonio Ortega's Residence

25 - Francisco Cacerez's Residence

26 - Capt. Wm. Hinckley's Residence

27 - Gen. M. G. Vallejo's building

28 - C. L. Ross' building

29 - Mill

30 - Capt. John Paty's Adobe building

31 - Doctor E. P. Jones' Residence

32 - Robert Ridley's Residence

33 - Los Pechos de la Choco

34 - Lone Mountain

35 - Sill's Blacksmith Shop

---- Trail to Presido

---- Trail to Mission Dolores

View from Telegraph Hill looking towards Yerba Buena harbor at left and Montgomery Street at right; south bay in distance. Several figures (Spaniards), campers with tents, and signal building in foreground; numerous ships in bay; wharves and densely packed buildings of city to right.

Locations identified across the bottom of the print are: The Contra Costa, or Opposite Coast; Yerba Buena Cove; Rincon Point; Panama Steamers; San Jose (Seat of Govmt); Montgomery Street Exchange; Custom House; Gambling Houses; Portsmouth Square; Post Office

This is a print on paper, hand colored 16.5 inches by 31 inches lithograph. The original sketch artist is Captain Thomas Bernard Collinson R.E., lithographer is W. Boosey, and the printer is M. & N. Hanhart associated with Ackerman & Col. publishers.

Thomas Bernard Collinson (November 18, 1821 – May 1, 1902) was an English military engineer of the Corps of Royal Engineers who carried out the earliest British surveys of Hong Kong, and planned roads and other early military and civil engineering works in New Zealand. He produced the original sketch of San Francisco Harbor during his trip back to England from New Zealand in 1850.

The print is part of the Robert B. Honeyman, Jr. collection of Early Californian and Western American Pictorial Material held by the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Peggy O'Neal painted many of the murals in the California Trail Interpretive Center. She is also co-owner of Ko-Kwow Arts and Exhibits, which is responsible for producing the 3-D diorama elements which blend so seamlessly into the background murals. Kodiak Studios produced the life size and realistic figurines and animals which populate the dioramas.

Six miners with rocker, wheel barrows, picks and shovels and gold pans

Men stopping work to pose at a mining site. Two display gold pans, one carries buckets balanced from a bar across his shoulders. Several rockers or "cradles" are also displayed.

1 photograph : daguerreotype ; quarter plate, visible This image (2.5 inches by 3 inches) is a daguerreotype framed in a wooden case covered by leather. The photographer and date are unknown. This picture is in the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Miner's life illustrated: the honest miner's songs

Thirteen images showing mining camps, miners at work in mines and daily chores, social activities, interiors of living quarters, etc. Published by Barber and Baker, corner of Third and J Street, Sacramento in 1854. Engraving is 8.5 inches by 11 inches. This document is held in the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Information about "letter sheets" from the Huntington Library:

Hoping to capitalize on every miner’s desire to share news of life in California with friends and loved ones, various entrepreneurs in the fields of printing and publishing commissioned individuals skilled with pencil, pen, or brush to capture different aspects of life in the Golden State. Engravers and lithographers then copied the original images onto wood or stone surfaces used in printing presses to duplicate copies by the hundreds or thousands. Reproduced on sheets of paper as large as 11 by 17 inches and then folded in half, the resulting items were sold as illustrated stationery.

The proliferation of the letter sheet, driven in large measure by the explosive growth of California’s gold-seeking population, yielded a dizzying array of subjects geared toward an equally diverse array of tastes and interests. As evidenced by the nearly 200 individual examples of letter sheets posted on the Huntington Digital Library , this stationery captured the news of the day in views of fires, shipwrecks, elections, and public celebrations. Letter sheets memorialized the near-instantaneous growth of California’s cities, towns, and gold camps from San Francisco to Sacramento, and from Marysville to Sonora. They satirized the hardscrabble existence of miners and portrayed the wilderness surroundings where the miners resided. They also reflected somberly or wistfully on the separations from friends and loved ones that miners had to endure.

Other examples, produced in the early years of the gold rush, chronicled the evolution of mining methods and, through them, portrayed how mining would ravage many California landscapes.

The individual elements of this letter sheet are shown below.

Mining Camp Merchant

No electronic resources could be located for this picture. It is a daguerreotype from the collection of Matthew RIsenburg. Isenburg's collection is considered the finest private collection of American photography and was sold to the Archive of Modern Conflict in Toronto after Isenburg's death in 2016.

Auburn Ravine 1852

View of miners (including a woman) gold mining in Auburn Ravine, Placer County in 1852. A sluice and other mining tools and equipment are seen.

This photograph is a reproduction of an original daguerreotype attributed to Joseph B. Starkweather. It is a 3.5 inch by 5.5 inch postcard that is part of the E.F. Mueller Postcard Collection of the California State Library.

From the Levi Strauss corporate website:

Levi Strauss, the inventor of the quintessential American garment, was born in Buttenheim, Bavaria on February 26, 1829 to Hirsch Strauss and his second wife, Rebecca Haas Strauss; Levi had three older brothers and three older sisters. Two years after his father succumbed to tuberculosis in 1846, Levi and his sisters emigrated to New York, where they were met by his two older brothers who owned a NYC-based wholesale dry goods business called “J. Strauss Brother & Co.” Levi soon began to learn the trade himself.

When news of the California Gold Rush made its way east, Levi journeyed to San Francisco in 1853 to make his fortune, though he wouldn’t make it panning gold. He established a wholesale dry goods business under his own name and served as the West Coast representative of the family’s New York firm. Levi eventually renamed his company “Levi Strauss & Co.”

This image is in the collection of the San Francisco Public Library.

Philip Danforth Armour

From the PBS website:

Philip Danforth Armour was born in 1832 on the family farm in upstate New York. At 19, he left for the California gold rush and had made $8,000 by the time he was 24.

During the Civil War, he started a grain business in Chicago, and then opened a meat packing business, Armour and Company, near the Union Stock Yards. His brother Joseph ran the business until his health failed, and then Philip took over, moving to Chicago. Armour's headquarters were in the Home Insurance Building, built by William LeBaron Jenney, the first iron skeleton skyscraper in Chicago.

No other digital image of this photograph could be located other than the one on the PBS website above.

Gold washing in Mariposa County, California

Gold mining by a creek in a forest setting. An older man is working with a sluice at right; a younger man with a gold pan at the bank in the foreground; a man driving a mule around ore crusher (arrastra) is at left.

This 9 inch by 13.5 inch etching is part of the collection of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Placer Mining in Columbia, Tuolumne County, The Rocker

This photograph is in the collection of the Library of Congress. It is originally part of a stereographic pair. It is also part of the Lawrence & Houseworth Album hosted by The Society of California Pioneers

Early Day Hydraulic Mining at Happy Camp, Calif.

Photograph of men, mining equipment, rocks, and trees with a label in the lower right corner that reads "Huey Hill Mine." This photograph is in the Jervie Henry Eastman collection at UC Davis.

California Gold Rush Miners with Wagon, Stock, Long Tom and Mining Tools

This photograph is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute. It is attributed to Columbia State Historic Park, which is part of the California State Parks system. In the Trail Center display, though, it is attributed to the California State Library. No electronic resource was found at that location.

Wagon Train meets Railroad

Monument Point, Utah c. 1868. The Central Pacific Railroad's Jupiter engine passes by a wagon train during the construction of the transcontinental railroad on the north side of the Great Salt Lake.

This photograph is part of the Alfred A. Hart collection managed by the Golden Spike National Historic Site. Alfred A. Hart was a photographer for the Central Pacific Railroad. His work captures many of the engineering achievements of the transcontinental railroad.

The Overland Pony Express

This etching appeared in the November 2, 1867 edition of Harper's Weekly. It was based on a painting by George M. Ottinger.

George M. Ottinger was born in Pennsylvania but was raised in New York City by his uncle. When he was 17, he ran away to become a sailor on a whaling ship. Later, he went to California to find gold, and by the age of 20, he had circumnavigated the globe. At this time, Ottinger moved to New York City, where he studied briefly under Robert Weir before attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1861, after having been converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ottinger and his mother traveled in a wagon train from Florence, Nebraska, to Salt Lake City, a distance of 1079 miles. While in Utah, he engaged in a number of occupations. He was the partner of the photographer C.R. Savage, and he painted scenery for the Salt Lake Theatre for four years as well as completing traditional paintings. Ottinger did not get much money for his paintings; but despite this, he was an influential and respected man of the community. He was Director of the Waterworks, Adjutant General of the National Guard, became President of the Deseret Academy in 1863, (later renamed the University of Utah) and was a Shakespearean actor.

As an artist, Ottinger can be classified as a Romantic Realist and his style is both formal and naive in nature. He painted a variety of subject matter including genre scenes, seascapes, landscapes, portraits, and historical events. Unlike some art, Ottinger's work was valued during his lifetime. Although he was not able to live off his earnings as an artist, he had many commissions and earned numerous medals and awards at art fairs. In his later years Ottinger was challenged by a shift in stylistic tastes, as the art market preferred more impressionistic work. This shift in taste caused him to search for new subject matter that would interest his patrons. However, he never lost his zeal to keep painting. At the age of 67 he wrote, "Individually I feel as young and ambitious and desirous to push ahead as ever, despite the years of discouragement and bad luck."

Biography courtesy Springville Museum of Art.

"Golden Spike" ceremony at Promontory Point, Utah

Andrew J. Russell was a photographer for the Union Pacific Railroad. Many of his photographs are actually stereoscopic and meant to be viewed through a stereogram. This A.J. Russell photograph can be viewed at the Golden Spike National Historic Site.

California Gold Diggers

California gold diggers, mining operations on the western shore of the Sacramento River. A diverse crowd of men (including Indians and African-Americans) and one elder woman at work along busy river bank. Miners use various tools including baskets, gold pans, shovels, picks and cradles and wear costumes reflecting their backgrounds. Mining camp and rolling hills in distance.

Published by Kelloggs & Comstock, and Ensign & Thayer between 1849 and 1852. This print on paper, hand-colored lithograph, hand colored 9.5 inch x 13 inch is held by the Bancroft Library.

Sierra Buttes Mine

Sierra Buttes Mine, Sierra County, California. This view is overlooking mining operations on the side of the mountain, showing entrances to tunnels, a road and railroad tracks. The main building is in the foreground with several ore mills (arrastre). Tree stumps and erosion of hillside are visible. This is a lithograph print on paper 18 inches by 23 inches.

The print is held in the collections of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Through to the Pacific, 1870

An idealized view of a town from high above. A train is headed on tracks from center foreground to center background – where tracks meet the sea. There is a river to the right, and the village is alongside the river.

In 1865, the New York Tribune editor, Horace Greeley, stated in an editorial, “Go West, young man, go West.” To encourage westward exploration, newspapers provided written descriptions of the areas west of the Mississippi River while Currier & Ives provided visual images of the beauty of the land. Expanding on the popularity of bird’s-eye views, Currier & Ives depicted the joining of railroads at Promontory Point, Utah, by showing a train traveling through the valley on its journey to the Pacific Ocean. A small settlement can be seen across the bridge in the background. In the right foreground, a number of loggers cut trees, making rafts out of the logs to transport the wood to West Coast cities such as San Francisco.

Nathaniel Currier (March 27, 1813 - November 20, 1888) and James Merritt Ives (March 5, 1824 - January 3, 1895), as well as most of the artists who worked for their firm, never traveled west of the Mississippi River. Their images of the West often romanticized the land and its people and the prints were eagerly purchased by Easterners, many of whom had also never traveled to the areas pictured in the lithographs.

This hand-colored lithograph, measuring 8 inches by 12.5 inches, is held in the collections of Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA.

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Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way

This painting by Emanuel Leutze is held in the collections of the Bancroft Library. The version seen here is a color lithograph published by W.J. Morgan & Co. A larger, somewhat different version is displayed as a 20 foot by 30 foot mural in the House Wing of the U.S. Capitol. The notes below reference that version.

Emanuel Leutze’s mural celebrates the western expansion of the United States. A group of pioneers and their train of covered wagons are pictured at the continental divide, looking towards the sunset and the Pacific Ocean. The border depicts vignettes of exploration and frontier mythology. Beneath the central composition is a panoramic view of their destination “Golden Gate,” in San Francisco Bay. The mural’s title is a verse from the poem “On the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America” by Bishop George Berkeley (1685–1753).

Emanuel Leutze (1816–1868) was born in Germany and trained as an artist in the United States and Europe. He is known primarily for paintings of American history, particularly his 1851 Washington Crossing the Delaware.

The mural’s border features portraits of pioneers William Clark (on the left) and Daniel Boone (on the right). William Clark (1770–1838), accompanied by Meriwether Lewis (1774–1809), led a federal survey of the Oregon Territory from 1804 to 1806, opening the way for western settlement. Daniel Boone (1734–1820) explored the Kentucky region and displayed legendary courage in battles against the British and Indians. Beneath Clark’s and Boone’s portraits are quotations from Jonathan M. Sewall’s prologue and epilogue, respectively, to Cato, A Tragedy by Joseph Addison.

Captain Montgomery C. Meigs, superintendent of construction of the Capitol extensions and new Dome, commissioned the 20-by-30-foot mural in July 1861 for $20,000. In preparation for painting the mural, Leutze traveled to the Colorado region in the summer of that year to sketch the Rocky Mountains.

In two early oil sketches for Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way (one on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum), Leutze did not include the African American youth depicted in the center of the mural. His decision to portray this freed slave may have been influenced by the emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia in 1862.

Leutze painted the mural using a German technique called stereochromy, in which pigments are applied to plaster and sealed with waterglass, a silica solution that preserves and enhances the colors. The mural was cleaned and conserved in 1998–1999.

During the Civil War, Leutze painted the mural at the U.S. Capitol uninterrupted from July 1861 to November 1862. He added the American flag as a symbol of the Union.

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Grass Valley, Nevada County, California, 1852

This painting is displayed on the log building table. It depicts a newly developing city in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Gated pastures are in the foreground with houses and buildings in the middle ground. Figures appear throughout the scene including a hunter and miner, Indians with baskets, and a well-dressed man and woman. It is part of the collection of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Miner's Cabin, Result of the Day

Displayed on the log-building table, "The Miner's cabin, Result of the Day" is a 12.5 inch by 17.5 inch hand-colored lithograph. It is attributed to German artist Charles Christian Nahl (1818-1878). The lithographer was B.F. Butler and the publisher was C.A. Shelton. Created in 1852, it depicts the interior of a log cabin with four miners by the fireplace. One shows a gold nugget to the others while another miner sleeps on a bunkbed. Mining tools and household items are visible on the floor and shelves. This painting is in the collection of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

This photograph is displayed on the log-building table. It is a daguerreotype from approximately 1852 near Nevada City showing a miner and a dog sitting in front of a log cabin with a sign above the door, "Coyote & Deer Creek Water Co's Office". It is held in the collections of the California State Library.