Photos: A Rare Look at the California Gold Rush

When you hear the word “gold” today, you probably don’t give it much attention, and you almost definitely don’t think of the California Gold Rush. The precious metal is pretty common and inexpensive, used not just for jewelry, but also as an edible ingredient. (Gold flake-topped cappuccino, anyone?!) But it wasn’t always this dispensable.

You probably have vague memories of learning about the California Gold Rush in school. If pressed for details, though, most people can’t recall more than “people moved to California looking for gold.” Understandable.

Now, thanks to a recent exhibition at the Canadian Photography Institute, made possible by the Archive of Modern Conflict, the Gold Rush is experiencing a bit of a renaissance.

In this gallery, we feature photos of America’s first great gold rush, highlighting prospectors, mines, slaves, and the rough California terrain.

Curious about the history of this metal and how it shaped the country? Check out these beautiful, historical photos from the California Gold Rush. Don’t forget to SHARE them with your history-loving friends!