The the biggest gold rush in U.S. history took place on January 24, 1848, when James Marshall found a rich strain of the ore at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. By 1849 prospectors called Forty-Niners came from around the world and swarmed into the nearest port, the small town of San Francisco. Soon San Francisco was a boomtown, and within a year California had a large enough population to qualify for statehood. This pattern was repeated in other areas in the American West, such as Denver, Colorado, where gold was found at Pikes Peak in 1859. The gold rush led to the discovery of copper, lead, silver, and other useful minerals. In turn, related industries emerged throughout the American West. For instance, in 1853 Levi Strauss (1829–1902), a Bavarian immigrant (a person from one country who permanently settles in another), began making and selling sturdy clothing—later called Levis or blue jeans—to miners in San Francisco.
Further Information: Blumberg, Rhoda. The Great American Gold Rush. New York: Bradury, 1989; Ghosts of the Gold Rush. [Online] Available http://www.gold-rush.org, October 30, 2000; Kelly, Leslie A. California's Gold Rush Country. [Online] Available http://www.goldrush1849.com/, October 30, 2000; Sherrow, Victoria. Life during the Gold Rush. San Diego: Lucent, 1998; Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth. The California Gold Rush: West with the Forty-Niners. New York: Franklin Watts, 1991.