Man Gets $000.000.000 For Gold Strike; Cold Air Returns


The Power of Gold

The Power of Gold

A Tragic Gold Rush Story

Marshall: A Tragic Gold Rush Story

On This Date in History:

From the time that the first bit of gold was found in California through the next 50 years, some $2.5 billion in gold was taken from the earth and streams.  James Marshall was born in 1810 in New Jersey to a wheelright and went west in his mid-twenties.  In 1845, Marshall ended up at a remote outpost in the Sacramento Valley of the California Territory.  Just 85 miles to the southwest lay a quiet seaport with just a few hundred residents.  It was called Yerba Buena.  Soon, that quiet town would be known as San Francisco and it would become anything but quiet. 

Marshall At The Mill
Marshall At The Mill

The outpost where Marshall took up residence was owned by a man named John Sutter, who is a distant relative of mine through my mother’s father.  In 1847, Marshall and Sutter became partners in a sawmill operation along a creek that ran through the property.  On January 24, 1848 Marshall was doing an inspection of the mill when something caught his eye in the water.  He reached down through six inches of frigid water and fetched a small gold nugget worth about 50 cents.  News spread quickly but skepticism ran rampant until Sam Brannon showed up on the scene.  Brannon operated the store at nearby Sutter’s Fort and in May, while newspapers were calling the gold rumors “all sham…got up to guzzle the gullible,” he arrived in San Francisco waving about a bottle filled with gold dust. That was a great advertising ploy because Brannon had already bought every iron pan in town for just 20 cents a piece.  After showing everyone he could the gold dust, he returned to his store where he just happened to have iron pans available for the low low price of $16 a piece.  That’s a nice 8000% mark up! 

Good Thing For These Guys the EPA Wasn't Around

Now, Brannon couldn’t have asked for a better spokesman than the President of the United States and when President Polk mentioned the gold strike in a December speech, every tin-horn miner and serious prospector descended on Sutter’s land, destroyed land and stole his livestock.  After a year, one meat company in Sacramento made $60,000 selling Sutter’s stolen beef.  Now, Marshall could have made a tidy profit without doing one bit of mining, if it weren’t for his incompetence.  You see, he was the partner in the saw mill and lumber was going for $500 per 1000 board feet.  Instead of cashing in, he got caught up in a dispute between miners and the local Indians and he ran off.  He came back a few weeks later but decided not to protect his land claims and instead became a prospector. 


Quite A Statue For A Peasant

Trouble was, he was no good at it.  But others were convinced that he had the Midas touch and so they followed him wherever he went.  At one point, tag-along miners threatened to string him up if he didn’t spill the beans about whereabouts of the next big gold strike.  I guess his followers finally decided that Marshall was a crummy prospector because Marshall ended up doing odd jobs and becoming rather eccentric.  Then, he hit the booze.  I don’t know how he came up with the figures; perhaps he was drunk when he estimated that his discovery had brought “Yankeedom $600 Million…Myself Individually….$000.000.000.”  In his despair, he convinced the state of California in 1872 to grant him compensation.   He received a $100 a month pension.  But, in 1878 he came wandering drunk into the state assembly and his pension was revoked.  When the man who discovered the first gold of the California Gold Rush died in 1885, his estate was valued at $218.82.  He was laid to rest on a rise that overlooks the place where his gold discovery ultimately destroyed his life.  He is honored however as in 1890, $9000 was spent on a statue that was placed at his grave.  The caretaker of the grave and statue did better than James…he was paid $75 a month, which was less than the Marshall pension, but I don’t think it got revoked. 

So, next time you hear of a big lottery winner whose life gets turned upside down and they end up broke, think of James Marshall.  The story is nothing new.  And I leave this question on the table…why is gold so valuable?  Who decided it was a symbol of wealth?  You can’t eat and and can’t build a shelter with it nor can you you drink it.  All you can do is look at it and for some reason, covet it.

GFS Wants To Bring Snow Close...But Don't Get Too Excited

GFS Wants To Bring Snow Close...But Don't Get Too Excited

GFS Wed Eve 1.28.09 SFC

GFS Wed Eve 1.28.09 SFC

GFS Critical Thickness Wed Eve 1.28.09

GFS Critical Thickness Wed Eve 1.28.09

Weather Bottom Line:

After pushing toward 60 on Friday, cut the temperatures in half for the weekend with highs in the upper 20’s and low 30’s.  It doesn’t look like we really have a wave coming across on Sunday but just enough moisture to not only continue the clouds from Saturday but also perhaps toss out some flurries.  Now, the real chance for some snow shows up late Tuesday into Tuesday night.  If you look at the GFS accumulated snow solution above, you notice some decent snow totals of of to 4 inches for the extreme northern part of the viewing area, tapering off to not much by the time you get to Louisville.  But, the map to the right tells the story that the GFS is telling and also what is similar to other models.  This is by midday Wednesday, warmer air moves up (note the pink general freezing thickness line in pink) and the freezing line goes north.  So, we turn to rain.  One might expect a time of a changeover from snow to perhaps freezing rain or sleet but at this time, it doesn’t really get me all worked up about anything serious.  Bottom line is that if some of you do get some decent snow, it won’t last long because rain will follow up.  You can see at left the critical thickness lines by Wednesday afternoon are largely to our North.  Colder air returns by the end of the week and it may be a rather messy time Tuesday night through Friday.


6 Responses

  1. What happened to you at WLKY? You did a great job with the old man Steve Burgin.

  2. I appreciate it Tom. Simply a matter of staff reductions in the industry as a whole and channel 32 is part of the industry. It’s getting tough out there for many businesses. It’s a great station and lots of great people. I miss them, especially that old dinosaur Burgin. But, I have no hard feelings and neither should you. It was a priviledge to work there and be a part of this community. Jay is an absolute ACE meteorologist and a really good guy and the community will continue to be served quite well. But, again, thank you for your kind sentiments and thank you for continuing to find my blog. Feel free to chime in any time. My adventure just continues and Snow White and I are looking forward to the future knowing that our fate is in the hands of providence, which is better than my own.

  3. It is amazing to read about the cost of living during the times of the Gold Rush. Five cents for a pound of flour was normal. However the simple economic concept of supply and demand allowed for the 49ers to charge and be charged nearly 20 times that. It is cool to see how the demand of food during the Gold Rush completely changed the price of all items around it. The cost of living from the east to west was entirely different.

    Wealth ranged from the supremely poor to people dying of starvation, and everything in between. David Baer Hackmans first hand account of the time in the book “A Pennsylvania Mennonite and the California Gold Rush” really explains what it was like to be a miner in the time of the Gold Rush. The book is one of my favorites. I think I got my copy from but I am pretty sure amazon carries it as well.

  4. Thanx for the info, Dustin. I think Marshall would have been better off selling lumber.

  5. Hello I am a decendent of a 49er that came out of Weedsport NY, (Stephen D. Suits) he was Married to A Margreat Marshall. maybe you can help clear something up for me because i cant find Family for James Marshall. But I have been told all my life She was the sister to James. that if it was true would be cool. how however my great Great Grandfather has his name writen in the town Histiry of Weedsport NY, as one of 5 49ers that came from that. town he died in Santa Monica CA, in 1881 and I just left CA, last year. and I am the last person from CA, to move out. Anyway just like to know if James Marshall had a Margreat Marshall as a sister or cousin? Thank you David Suits

  6. I love iCarly

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