As California's population grew, so did its need for society and culture. Homesickness and intense loneliness burdened gold rush miners. They were often separated from family and friends, and sought diversions to escape the harsh realities of their lives. Entertainment of many kinds was eagerly pursued. Itinerant musicians traveled to mining camps. Canvas theaters were erected, and larger halls and grand theaters opened in the cities. The playbill might include a group of musicians, a lone singer, a child actor, a performance of opera or Shakespeare, or even a fight between a grizzly bear and a bull. But rough and tumble miners could be fickle: they could toss gold coins on the stage or garbage!
Top: Lotta Crabtree, Collection of Oakland Museum of California
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