WHY ARE THEY GOING TO CALIFORNIA?
On January 24, 1848 gold was discovered on the American River near Sacramento
Just days later, Mexico and the United States signed a treaty which ended the Mexican American War, yielding a large portion of the Southwest –including California – to the United States
As news spread of The Gold Rush, tens of thousands of prospective gold miners traveled by land or sea to San Francisco and the surrounding area
THIS CREATED HUGE GROWTH…
IN A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME!
San Francisco grew from a fishing village of less than 1000 in 1848
to become the central metropolis of the new frontier
with over 100,000 people by the end of 1849!
NECESSITIES WERE NEEDED
This created a huge market for the necessities of life in California
Furniture like chairs & tables
And lots of Alcohol!
THESE ITEMS FETCHED
EXTREMELY HIGH PRICES
were $40 to $60 a barrel!
were $12 a pound!
Those that made the most money weren’t the miners themselves…
They were those who “mined the miners”!
AND SPEED WAS OF THE ESSENCE
There was a short window of time to fulfill these needs
Merchants needed to get items to California quickly before demand decreased and prices went down
Competition was Fierce!
THE EAST COAST HAD THE ITEMS NEEDED…
But with no railroad across the United States or through Panama
THE BEST WAY TO TRANSPORT THEM WAS BY SEA
The East Coast had excellent ship building capability
And..there were plenty of able seamen who had been involved in fishing, whaling or military operations
THESE CIRCUMSTANCES DROVE THE TECHNOLOGY
Clipper Ships and then Extreme Clipper Ships were built
over 160 were built in just 4 years!
Less Cargo but of High-Value
With no Panama Canal,
the ships had to go around
Cape Horn – at the tip of South America
with notoriously rough conditions!
MANY SHIPS MADE THE JOURNEY
In 1848 only 13 vessels entered San Francisco harbor
In 1850 there were 775!