California Gold Rush's Lasting Legacy

814 Words4 Pages

The Gold Rush’s Lasting Legacy on the Environment
The California Gold Rush from 1848 to 1855 was a time filled with excitement and prosperity, in which thousands of people came to California to pull gold from the now Sierra Mountains. Gold was one of the most sought-after mineral on this planet, often treasured for its monetary and aesthetic value. Gold has been a rarity due to its difficulty in extracting and refining. Gold is often only extracted through placer mining, hydraulic mining, and lode mining. The promise of a fortune, and the mass migration left a lasting legacy in California’s history. However, the biggest lasting legacy left was the processes that were time consuming, heath risking, and environmental damaging.
The California …show more content…

Settlers went into searching father to discover it was found below earth’s surface that requires more digging deep within the mountains, often most difficult gold extraction. This often requires explosives, underground drilling, or underground tunnel system. This was dangerous for the settlers due to the fact underground tunnels are unpredictable with their high temperatures and collapsibility. The last method was hydraulic mining, this was used when gold discoveries began to subside, settlers needed to search for gold they dug even deeper. This required new technology, however this technology caused more destruction than good to California’s …show more content…

Setters used mercury to recover gold more easily. Mercury mixed with gold made a gold-mercury chemical reaction in which the gold was sorted through the sediment and attracted to the mercury. Hundreds of pounds of liquid mercury were added to sluices, with large volumes of water added, it made even the finer of gold easier to collect. Settlers even went to such lengths as mercury-lined panning plates. However, mercury evidently was lost during the mining process, and ended up either flowing to the downstream environments, leaking into underground soil or bedrock. Small mercury particles were often floating on the top of the water for miles past the mining sight. Mercury was the quick fix that settlers were looking for. However, this quick fix caused a life-time of destruction, mercury found its way not only contaminating the water supply and soil but through the food chain. More often found on the wildlife and vegetation, especially in the tissues of fish in the rivers, thus causing serious health issues to humans eating high amounts of fish.
Overall, the California Gold Rush based on history did not have many contributions and positives to the environment. The race for economic prosperity, and striking gold came at a cost with the destruction of the environment. The difficulty of extracting gold took a toll on the farmlands, hillsides, and mountains of the Sierra Nevada

Show More
Open Document