The Gold Rush and the California Dream

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The Gold Rush and The California Dream
The California Dream as it was seen during the gold rush and even today is a direct result of the embellished images and stories that flew out of California during the Gold Rush of 1849. In cold harsh weather farmers heard stories of a place where it was always warm. Where you never had to see snow if you didn’t want to. This place that had rivers filled with gold, and a place that gave up its wealth and treasures with barely any effort. They were hooked, tired of working to the bone, tired of hard winters, ready for this promise they were hearing. So they came, they loaded up all of their worldly possessions on a wagon and got ready to make to trek to the land with good weather, golden hills and always blue skies. But these images weren’t of their own creation, and they would soon find out they were more myth than reality.

If you were to come across a mid 1800s postcard of California you would see a golden sun in impossibly blue skies. Golden hills as far as the eye could see inviting all to come to their rivers which were filled with gold. The Dream “surrounds and envelops you, engages your senses, and permeates your soul”.(James Rawls, 22) These images painted California as a beautiful escape with wealth for all that were able to make it. They showed a hard trip being worth every grueling second, because if you could just here the California dream could be yours.

But what exactly was that dream? The American Dream is where you can provide a living for you and your family, escape from persecution for your beliefs, where you work hard and get rewarded for your work. But the California Dream was different, this Dream was of a place “where prosperity and happiness can be had effortlessly, without effort“.(Sonia Maasik,19) They were told rivers were filled with gold, that anybody can make a fortune out here with little more than a pan and some luck. Where you don’t have to work hard to strike it rich. California has a...
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