Not all who came to California spent their time mining. Not all who struck it rich found gold at the bottom of a river. Many failed miners became business entrepreneurs, seeing needs and filling them with a variety of goods and services. By 1852 nearly 275,000 gold seekers had rushed to California. They all needed food and housing, transportation and banking services, mining equipment and clothing, and just about everything else. They represented immense commercial potential, and there was an enormous amount of gold ready to be spent!
Businesses sprang up overnight, and many
became cornerstones of the state's growing economy. Several continue to thrive as
influential corporations today, but most quickly failed. Yet California was unusually
tolerant of failure, and bursting with opportunity. Chances were you could find some other
endeavor and make a go of it.
Top: Miner's Gold Scale, Photo by Catherine
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