A Travelling Days Website

ColomaGold06a.jpg - 27272 BytesA GERMAN-BORN SWISS businessman, Johann Sutter (pictured below right), arrived in San Francisco in 1839 and obtained a grant of 48,000 acres at the junction of the Sacramento and American Rivers.
   Shortly after America won the Mexican War in California in January 1847 a battalion of Mormons, who had enlisted in the Army in Iowa, arrived but too late for the fighting. They were later joined by a military force of one thousand soldiers from New York.

Colomasutter.jpg - 21029 Bytes ALL WAITED for the fighting to end outside California and the Mormons were then discharged in the middle of 1847.
   Many went to work for Johann Sutter who proceeded with his plans for a new town near his fort to accommodate some of the expected American settlers who would arrive through the passes of the Sierras. The building of a new town ('Sutterville') would require a lot of timber, and to process this Sutter decided to construct a large sawmill at Coloma.

MANY OF THE NEW settlers Sutter hired in 1847 were detailed to work under the supervision of Sutter's partner, James Marshall, in Coloma, where they finished constructing the sawmill at the river junction in following January. Next, they started deepening the stream that would serve the millrace.
   On January 24, 1848, Marshall went down to the river to inspect the worksite He later reported, "My eye was caught by something shining in the bottom of the ditch...I reached my hand down and picked it up; it made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold...Then I saw another......"

THE DISCOVERY SITE at the river junction (below).

bColoma04.jpg - 49082 Bytes

bColoma02.jpg - 46961 Bytes

A FEW MONTHS later California's Military Governor, Colonel Richard Barnes Mason, visited the area to investigate the claims of the readily available wealth to be found in Sutter's territory along the American River.
    Governor Mason's report prompted President Polk to officially announce the gold discovery to Congress on December 5, 1848. The news triggered a mass migration to California. In 1849, close to 100,000 people (the 'Forty Niners') went to California from the United States, Europe, and every other corner of the globe.
   Sutter wrote later that, in 1848, "..... the people commenced rushing up from San Francisco and other parts of California. In the former village only five men were left to take care of the women and children. The single men locked their doors and left for "Sutter's Fort," and from there to the Eldorado. For some time the people in Monterey and farther south would not believe the news of the gold discovery, and said that it was only a 'Ruse de Guerre' of Sutter's, because he wanted to have neighbors in his wilderness.
   "From this time on I got only too many neighbors, and some very bad ones among them. What a great misfortune was this sudden gold discovery for me! It has just broken up and ruined my hard, restless, and industrious labors, connected with many dangers of life, as I had many narrow escapes before I became properly established. From my mill buildings I reaped no benefit whatever, the mill stones even have been stolen and sold."

bColoma01.jpg - 55662 Bytes

MARSHALL'S CABIN at Coloma (left).

Coloma06sb.jpg - 51305 Bytes

ST JOHN'S CHURCH at Coloma (right).

California Directory
California Home Page
America West Home Page