The California Gold Rush - InfoBarrel
The discovery of gold in California probably did as much to jump start the westward migration of Americans as any other single factor. Beginning with the 1804-06 Lewis and Clark expedition, people in the eastern United States began to learn of a vast expanse of unsettled territory to their west. A trickle of the more adventurous moved toward the setting sun. But the full rush westward commenced in 1849, with thousands drawn there by a lust for the precious golden metal.
Some found their fortunes in the California gold fields; some did not.
James Marshall, born in New Jersey in 1810, traveled west while still in his twenties. He eventually landed in California