Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Caifornia gold

Habanero chiles and tomatillos
The California Gold Rush started in 1848 when gold was discovered in Sutter's Mill, a settlement near Coloma on the American River. John Sutter, the founder of the settlement, wanted to create an agricultural utopia in California. So when John Marshall, the man who ran the settlement's sawmill, found gold nuggets in the mill's tailrace, Sutter wanted to hush it up. He feared that all his workers would abandon the fields and farms for mining.

The timing couldn't have been better. On February 2, 1848, the Mexican-American war ended with the signing of the treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo. In the treaty, Mexico ceded its territory of Alta California to the United States.

Although Marshall's discovery happened in late January, it wasn't until March that big-mouth San Francisco newspaperman and merchant Samuel Brannan returned from a visit to Sutter's Mill, announcing that gold had been discovered, and opened up a store to sell prospecting supplies.

Sutter's fears were proven right. Agricultural workers and city slickers alike rushed into the hills to strike it rich. The discovery was announced in the New York Herald in August of 1848, and confirmed by U.S. President James S. Polk in December.

Getting to California was not easy. You could sail from the East Coast south around the tip of South America and up to California - it took about eight months.Or you could sail to Panama, disembark, and fight your way across the isthmus jungles for a week, and then try to catch a ship north. Or you could trek overland across the continental divide. People came from Asia, from Australia and New Zealand, and from Europe, including Turkey and Basques from the Pyrenees.

 It's estimated that by 1855 some 300,000 people came to California. The population of San Francisco grew from 1,000 to 25,000 in just two years. Some came for gold; others came to make money off everyone else.

Sutter lost everything - no one cared about agriculture when you could mine for gold. Miners trespassing on his land broke his fences and ran his livestock off; his workers ran off; and eventually he lost his land. He moved to Pennsylvania, and later died in a Washington, D.C. hotel.

Today, California is reaping gold again. Golden beets on display here at the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers' Market.

Gold-blushed pluots - this variety is called Flavor Grenade. I'm thinking of making some jam out of them!

John Sutter would have enjoyed this kind of Gold Rush.

I just love working within walking distance of the Farmers' Market! 

What's worth more than gold where you are?


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Gorgeous pictures. That produce looks lovely. I have a bunch of heirloom apples I "liberated" from a tree on a jobsite (the deer and I are the only ones who seem to go for them), and plan on making a sausage and apple quiche.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I just love working within walking distance of the Farmers' Market!

That's what I miss most about Manhattan now, believe it or don't: living a few blocks north of the Union Square Greenmarket.


Anonymous said...

Our summer was too short/too late/too busy to take part in picking huckleberries. The are for sale in a market down on the Blvd., but the prices make me think they dipped the huckleberries in gold!
I'll be sorry this winter to not have huckleberry pancakes on a snowy day.

maggicat said...

Aunt Snow.......I appreciate your writing and photography!!
I wrote a very long comment and then lost it due to ignorance of the method....that can be educated, of course, still its darned frustrating.
The main thing I wanted to say is in my opening I'll try again to leave my comment.

Aunt Snow said...

Welcome Catherine. I'm sorry you had trouble. I intended to set up my comment system to be the easiest blogger allows, but it's possible I reset it by mistake. I'll double check I don't have any weird moderation things.

If you have any more trouble, you may email me at the address in my profile.

Alexia said...

Just lovely pictures, and an interesting commentary.
And I learnt about something new - a pluot! I had never heard of them before, and as a confirmed stonefruit addict, I was delighted to find out about these hybrids. I wonder if we have them in this country? Thanks, Aunt Snow!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this post. Our Summer is wasting away here in the Midwest. It seems like it just started. My health is worth more than gold, but in the food category I would say fresh sweet corn. It is the single most heavenly Summer thing along with fresh tomatoes. There is no substitute for either.


smalltownme said...

Wonderful colors!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

oi, Glynnis, there are times when I think that the LA traffic, weirdness, smog, earthquakes and the rest are a small price to pay for so much beauty :)


Water. Very valuable stuff around here. Not only monetarily but the power connected to water is epic.