HOW STUFF WORKS
QUIZZES

FOLLOW US
Test Your Knowledge: The California Gold Rush
by Staff
The gold rush sparked an epic stampede into the unknown countryside. How much do you know about California's gold-fueled insanity?

What was the name of the worker who first found gold flecks in water near a sawmill?

  • James W. Marshall
  • John Sutter
  • John C. Fremont

What was the approximate purity of the first gold found during the rush?

  • 99%
  • 96%
  • 94%

Why did James W. Marshall have to leave the land where he was building a sawmill?

  • Too many men wanted jobs working for him.
  • Crowds of prospectors forced him to leave.
  • The government claimed his land for gold mining purposes.

What is considered the first year of the California gold rush?

  • 1852
  • 1850
  • 1848

Where was the first gold rush in American history?

  • Delaware
  • North Carolina
  • California

Which professionals made the most money from the gold rush?

  • Prostitutes
  • Merchants and storekeepers
  • Gold miners

Why were gold rush prospectors called "Forty-Niners?"

  • Many arrived in 1849
  • $49 was about the maximum that most of them would make in gold.
  • The first group of miners included 50 men but they lost one to cholera.

About how many people made it to California in 1849 to begin seeking their fortunes?

  • 400,000
  • 90,000
  • 40,000

In which year did the gold rush hit its peak in terms of production?

  • 1856
  • 1852
  • 1850

Which type of rock often contained substantial amounts of gold?

  • Granite
  • Quartz
  • Shale

Roughly how many people turned up in California for the gold rush?

  • 1 million
  • 500,000
  • 300,000

What was San Francisco's population two years after the gold rush started?

  • 40,000
  • 25,000
  • 8,000

About how many tons of gold were found using hydraulic mining?

  • 340 tons
  • 900 tons
  • 200 tons

When did California officially become a state?

  • 1850
  • 1858
  • 1861

What was the pre-rush population of Native Americans in California?

  • About 500,000
  • About 300,000
  • About 30,000

What was the approximate population of Native Americans in California two decades after the rush?

  • About 500,000
  • About 100,000
  • About 9,000

About how many pounds of gold did prospectors find during the rush?

  • 2 million
  • 750,000
  • 2,000

Why did some escaped slaves wind up in California during the gold rush?

  • Miners were notoriously anti-slavery.
  • There was no law enforcement.
  • They were welcomed with open arms.

Which president kicked off gold fever on the East Coast by announcing gold findings to Congress?

  • Zachary Taylor
  • John Tyler
  • James K. Polk

What was "claim jumping"?

  • The act of stealing gold from miners just before they cashed in
  • When a prospector began work on an area claimed by someone else
  • When miners jumped from spot to spot, hoping to maximize profits

How did Sam Brannan add fuel the gold rush fire?

  • He walked around town with gold flakes, shouting the news.
  • He sent letters about the gold to newspapers on the East Coast.
  • He offered top dollar for gold flakes at his shop.

How did Sam Brannan make his fortune once the gold rush was underway?

  • He staked a claim to one of the best-producing gold mines.
  • He sold prospecting tools and supplies.
  • He invested in the stock market.

During the peak gold craze, how much might a miner spend for coffee, in today's dollars?

  • Around $100 per pound
  • Around $50 per pound
  • Around $25 per pound

How did California legislators help to drive out foreign miners?

  • Revoked passports
  • Instigated violence against them
  • Began taxing foreigners

The first gold mining colony eventually became known as what?

  • Sacramento
  • Santa Rosa
  • Oakland

How long did it take to sail from the East Coast to San Francisco?

  • Between five and eight months
  • About a month
  • The better part of a year

In 1860, long after the gold rush's peak, what percentage of the rush-era towns were female?

  • About 10%
  • About 20%
  • About 30%

Why were hundreds of ships left abandoned in the harbor near San Francisco?

  • The harbor's severe weather damaged many ships.
  • Crews left to search for gold.
  • Captains were too broke to pay crews to return home.

To make his fortune, what product did Levi Strauss sell to miners?

  • Overalls
  • Pickaxes
  • Hats

What product did Levi Strauss originally plan to sell to miners?

  • tarps
  • hats
  • work gloves