Big nuggets from the California gold rush

The first piece of gold found by James Marshall in the mill race of the sawmill he was building along the American River at Coloma was worth only 50 cents and the second one about five dollars. No one knows what happened to these historic nuggets, the first discoveries of the California gold rush. The gold John Sutter called ‘the first gold’ and had made into a ring was from pieces found later.

Sutter’s mill

The first nugget of substantial size was accidentally stumbled on by a member of Stevenson’s regiment who had stopped for a drink of water at a small stream that flowed into the Mokelumne River. It weighed between twenty and twenty-five pounds and he hurried with it to San Francisco. The Governor of California, General Mason, then sent it east as part of a report that helped confirm the seemingly extravagant stories that had been told of the wealth in California.

Mokelumne River, California

The largest nugget was found at Carson Hill in Calaveras County in November 1854, and was worth over $43,000. In 1860 another nugget was pulled from the Monumental Mine in the Sierra Buttes in Sierra County and weighed in at 133 pounds. William Gulnac found a 75-pound nugget at Wood’s Creek, Tuolumne County in 1848. In French Ravine back in Sierra County a nugget worth $5000 was found in 1850, another worth $8000 in 1851, and yet a third worth $10,000 in 1855.

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