An attractive and highly valued metal, gold has been known for at least 5500 years. Gold is sometimes found free in nature but it is usually found in conjunction with silver , quartz (SiO2), calcite (CaCO3), lead , tellurium , zinc or copper . There is roughly 1 milligram of gold dissolved in every ton of seawater, although extracting it currently costs more than the gold is worth. It has been estimated that all of the gold that has currently been refined could be placed in a cube measuring 20 meters on a side. Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all known metals.
A single ounce of gold can be beaten into a sheet measuring roughly 5 meters on a side. Thin sheets of gold, known as gold leaf, are primarily used in arts and crafts for gilding. One sheet of gold leaf can be as thin as 0. 000127 millimeters, or about 400 times thinner than a human hair. Pure gold is soft and is usually alloyed with other metals, such as silver, copper, platinum or palladium , to increase its strength. Gold alloys are used to make jewelry, decorative items, dental fillings and coins. The amount of gold in an alloy is measured with a unit called a carat.
One carat is equal to one part in twenty-four, so an 18 carat gold ring contains 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts alloy material. Gold is a good conductor of heat and electricity and does not tarnish when it is exposed to the air, so it can be used to make electrical connectors and printed circuit boards. Gold is also a good reflector of infrared radiation and can be used to help shield spacecraft and skyscrapers from the sun’s heat. Gold coated mirrors can be used to make telescopes that are sensitive to infrared light. A radioactive isotope of gold, gold-198, is used for treating cancer.
Gold sodium thiosulfate (AuNa3O6S4) is used as a treatment for arthritis. Chlorauric acid (HAuCl4) is used to preserve photographs by replacing the silver atoms present in an image. Availability: gold is available in many forms including wire, foil, and bars. Small and large samples of gold foil, wire, and teflon coated wire (and gold alloy in wire form) can be purified. Gold is usually alloyed in jewellery to give it more strength, and the term carat describes the amount of gold present (24 carats is pure gold). It is estimated that all the gold in the world, so far refined, could be placed in a single cube 60 ft. a side.
It is metallic, with a yellow colour when in a mass, but when finely divided it may be black, ruby, or purple. It is the most malleable and ductile metal; 1 ounce (28 g) of gold can be beaten out to 300 square feet. It is a soft metal and is usually alloyed to give it more strength. It is a good conductor of heat and electricity, and is unaffected by air and most reagents. The most common gold compounds are auric chloride (AuCl3) and chlorauric acid (HAuCl4). A mixture of one part nitric acid with three of hydrochloric acid is called aqua regia (because it dissolved gold, the King of Metals).
It is unaffected by air and most reagents. It is found free in nature and associated with quartz, pyrite and other minerals. Two thirds of the world’s supply comes from South Africa, and 2/3 of USA production is from South Dakota and Nevada. Gold is found in sea water, but no effective economic process has been designed (yet) to extract it from this source Here is a brief summary of the isolation of gold. It would not normally be necessary to make gold in the laboratory as it is readily available commercially.
The most romantic way to extract gold is by panning it out from a stream in some pleasant valley but most such sources are now depleted. Panning relies upon the density of gold (which is very high) being much greater than that of the sand and other particulates. It therefore settles to the bottom of the pan. Today, more often than not, gold is extracted from ores. These ores often contain relatively little gold. Some of these processes cause environmental concern. The ore is crushed to a powder so as to expose the small gold particles. These are dissolved by treatment of the rock with cyanide solution in air.
The result of this is a gold cyanide complex. Addition of zinc powder to the resulting solution precipitates out the gold. In 1837, under pressure of a bad drought, Thomas Learmonth and a group of squatters explored the area to the north of their settlement near Geelong in search of better watered regions. On this journey they reached and climbed Mt. Bonan Yowing (now Buninyong) and were thus the first to see the Ballarat area. In March 1838, two squatters, Yuille and Anderson, settled with their flocks on the banks of an area known as Black Swamp, now Lake Wendouree.
Star of the East Gold Mine During the next 13 years, shepherds and their flocks roamed in the area with Buninyong becoming the service township for the settlers. The peace and tranquillity of the district was shattered soon after the discovery of gold in the area in August 1851. The discovery precipitated a great rush to the area which in turn resulted in the rapid growth of the new town of Ballarat. By the end of September, nearly a 1000 miners were digging for gold on the Ballarat field – By 1853, there were more than 20,000 miners of many nationalities working on the field.
In that same year, 10,000,000 grams of gold were transported under police escort to the Melbourne Treasury. Probably as much again was never recorded but sold secretly and illegally. Over the next four (4) years, more than 77,700,000 grams reached Melbourne under escort. On June 10th 1858, the great Welcome Nugget was found. It weighed 68,956 grams and contained an estimated 68,272 grams of pure gold. In the 1860’s, when the shallow alluvial deposits began to run out, companies were formed to exploit the deep quartz lodes. Many proved to be extraordinarily rich.
From one shaft of the Band of Hope and Albion Consols mine, 9. 7 tonnes of gold were extracted. At its peak, in 1868, the Ballarat goldfield supported 300 companies and the population of the settlement was estimated at 64,000. In 1870, wild speculation caused a recession of the mining industry and dozens of companies failed. The recession ended as more stable industries replaced gold mining. Mixed farming and pastoral activities around the City required service industries and shopping facilities. Workers from the mines were absorbed into businesses and industries.
Ballarat’s last mine closed down in 1918. The total recorded yield from the Ballarat Goldfield amounted to 20,592,000 Troy ounces (Ballarat Historical Society Publication No. 1) and based on a gold price of $A500 per ounce the total value would be around $10,000,000,000. A remarkable figure when it is realised that a large amount of the gold discovered in the district was never recorded. Ballarat was the scene of Australia’s most famous civic insurrection. On 3 December 1854 at Eureka, miners clashed with police and detachments of the 12th and 40th regiments.
In all, 28 men were killed and a large number wounded. Ballarat was proclaimed a township in 1852, created a municipality in 1855, a borough in 1863, and was proclaimed a City on 9 September 1870. California’s most famous gold rush dates to the morning of January 24, 1848, when James Marshall made his customary inspection of the sawmill he was building for John Sutter. During the previous night, Marshall had diverted water through the mill’s tailrace to wash away loose dirt and gravel, and on that fateful day, he noticed some shining flecks of metal left behind by the running water.
He picked them up and showed them to his crew, but while he was pretty sure that it was gold, the full significance of his discovery was truly impossible to imagine. He was still concerned about getting the mill finished. Word of Marshall’s discovery leaked out and immediately set off a “rush to the mines. ” By the spring of 1849, the largest gold rush in American history was under way. At the time of Marshall’s discovery, the state’s non-Indian population numbered about 14,000. By the end of 1849, it had risen to nearly 100,000, and it continued to swell to some 250,000 by 1852.
Gold was both plentiful and – by happy geologic accident- easy to extract, making the gold-bearing gravels of California’s rivers into what has been described as “the finest opportunity that, has ever been offered on any mining frontier. ” A contemporary newspaper put it slightly differently: “The whole country, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and from the sea shore to the base of the Sierra Nevadas, resounds with the cry of ‘gold, GOLD, GOLD! ‘ while the field is left half planted, the house half built, and everything neglected but the manufacture of shovels and pickaxes. ”
Today, a few mines and the remains of several boom towns have been preserved in a variety of state parks. Most of them, including the Marshall Gold Discovery site, the fabulous Empire Mine, the historic town of Columbia, the rich gold deposits at Plumas Eureka, and the controversial hydraulic mining pits at Malakoff Diggins, are located in or near the Mother Lode region of the central Sierra Nevada foothills. The riverfront embarcadero and commercial district of the Gold Rush preserved at Old Sacramento teemed with activity as would-be miners disembarked from riverboats and regrouped before setting out for the Mother Lode.
Outfitters and other merchants there thrived on the gold trade, portrayed in the re-created Huntington & Hopkins Hardware Store. The mining boom that Captain John Sutter himself set in motion nearly destroyed his Nuevo Helvetia agricultural empire headquartered at Sutteras Fort. A portion of his Mexican land grant became the bustling Gold Rush boomtown of Sacramento. While gold-seekers were pouring through Sacramento and into the Sierra, deposits of the precious metal were also discovered in the Klamath Mountains of northwest California.
Today, ruins of the historic town of Shasta and the Chinese temple at Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park recall the days of the Klamath gold rush. In combination, the Mother Lode and the Klamath gold fields produced the modern-day equivalent of more than $25 billion in gold before the turn of the century, with operations continuing at Empire Mine until as late as 1956. Between the 1860s and the turn of the century, prospectors found gold in a number of locations in California.
One of the Wests largest authentic ghost towns is Bodie in the eastern Sierra Nevada, now a state historic park that preserves the abandoned buildings of the rough-and-tumble mining town that sprang up in response to a gold strike in 1877. In Southern California, three historic gold mining areas lie within the state parks. Park headquarters at Red Rock Canyon State Park is on the site of what was once an important community in a region that produced several million dollars in gold, primarily in the 1890s -including one 14-ounce nugget.
At Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, visitors can tour the remains of the Stonewall Mine, which produced $2 million worth of gold between 1870 and 1892. At Picacho State Recreation Area on the lower Colorado River, visitors can view Picacho Mill, the last visible remnant of Picacho, a gold mining community that boasted a population of 2,500 in 1904. 4Au + 8NaCN + O2 + 2H2O 4Na[Au(CN)2] + 4NaOH 2Na[Au(CN)2] + Zn 2NaCN + Zn(CN)2 + Au (s) Known since prehistoric times. The name is the Anglo-saxon word for the metal and the symbol comes from the Latin aurum, ‘gold’
A soft metal with a characteristic colour and, since it is chemically unreactive, one of the few elements to occur in the natural state. It will dissolve in aqua regia(‘royal water’),a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids. It can be beaten into very thin sheets(‘gold leaf’) to be used as architectural ornament . Another use is in jewellery , and some is also employed in the electronics industry and to colour glass or make it heat-reflecting . About 1500 tons of gold are mined each year , chiefly in South Africa and the USSR, and the most of this is stored as bullion .
There is a lot of gold in the sea, but with only 1 gram in 100,000 tons of sea water, schemes to reclaim gold from the oceans have always failed. Gold was dated back to very early times, and has been a valuable asset ever since. Gold is found free in nature and is widely distributed and is almost always associated with quartz or pyrite. It is almost always found by using the panning techniques. Nearly two thirds of the world’s output of Gold comes from Africa, and about two thirds of the U. S. output of Gold comes from South Dakota.
In the City Hotel, (the only one) at the dinner table this enterprise was unkindly called aanother folly of Sutteras,a as my first settlement at the old fort near Sacramento City was called by a good many, aa folly of his,a and they were about right in that, because I had the best chances to get some of the finest locations near the settlements; and even well stocked ranchoas had been offered to me on the most reasonable conditions; but I refused all these good offers, and preferred to explore the wilderness, and select a territory on the banks of the Sacramento.
It was a rainy afternoon when Mr. Marshall arrived at my office in the Fort, very wet. I was somewhat surprised to see him, as he was down a few days previous; and then, I sent up to Coloma a number of teams with provisions, mill irons, etc. , etc. He told me then that he had some important and interesting news which he wished to communicate secretly to me, and wished me to go with him to a place where we should not be disturbed, and where no listeners could come and hear what we had to say.
I went with him to my private rooms; he requested me to lock the door; I complied, but I told him at the same time that nobody was in the house except the clerk, who was in his office in a different part of the house; after requesting of me something which he wanted, which my servants brought and then left the room, I forgot to lock the doors, and it happened that the door was opened by the clerk just at the moment when Marshall took a rag from his pocket, showing me the yellow metal: he had about two ounces of it; but how quick Mr. M. put the yellow metal in his pocket again can hardly be described.
The clerk came to see me on business, and excused himself for interrupting me, and as soon as he had left I was told, anow lock the doors; didnat I tell you that we might have listeners? a I told him that he need fear nothing about that, as it was not the habit of this gentleman; but I could hardly convince him that he need not to be suspicious. Then Mr. M. gan to show me this metal, which consisted of small pieces and specimens, some of them worth a few dollars; he told me that he had expressed his opinion to the laborers at the mill, that this might be gold; but some of them were laughing at him and called him a crazy man, and could not believe such a thing. After having proved the metal with aqua fortis, which I found in my apothecary shop, likewise with other experiments, and read the long article agolda in the Encyclopedia Americana, I declared this to be gold of the finest quality, of at least 23 carats.
After this Mr. M. had no more rest nor patience, and wanted me to start with him immediately for Coloma; but I told him I could not leave as it was late in the evening and nearly supper time, and that it would be better for him to remain with me till the next morning, and I would travel with him, but this would not do: he asked me only awill you come to-morrow morning? a I told him yes, and off he started for Coloma in the heaviest rain, although already very wet, taking nothing to eat.
I took this news very easy, like all other occurrences good or bad, but thought a great deal during the night about the consequences which might follow such a discovery. I gave all my necessary orders to my numerous laborers, and left the next morning at 7 oaclock, accompanied by an Indian soldier, and vaquero, in a heavy rain, for Coloma. About half way on the road I saw at a distance a human being crawling out from the brushwood.
I asked the Indian who it was: he told me athe same man who was with you last evening. a When I came nearer I found it was Marshall, very wet; I told him that he would have done better to remain with me at the fort than to pass such an ugly night here but he told me that he went up to Coloma, (54 miles) took his other horse and came half way to meet me; then we rode up to the new Eldorado. In the afternoon the weather was clearing up, and we made a prospecting promenade.
The next morning we went to the tail-race of the mill, through which the water was running during the night, to clean out the gravel which had been made loose, for the purpose of widening the race; and after the water was out of the race we went in to search for gold. This was done every morning: small pieces of gold could be seen remaining on the bottom of the clean washed bed rock. I went in the race and picked up several pieces of this gold, several of the laborers gave me some which they had picked up, and from Marshall I received a part.
I told them that I would get a ring made of this gold as soon as it could be done in California; and I have had a heavy ring made, with my familyas cost of arms engraved on the outside, and on the inside of the ring is engraved, aThe first gold, discovered in January, 1848. a Now if Mrs. Wimmer possesses a piece which has been found earlier than mine Mr. Marshall can tell, as it was probably received from him. I think Mr. Marshall could have hardly known himself which was exactly the first little piece, among the whole.
The next day I went with Mr. M. on a prospecting tour in the vicinity of Coloma, and the following morning I left for Sacramento. Before my departure I had a conversation with all hands: I told them that I would consider it as a great favor if they would keep this discovery secret only for six weeks, so that I could finish my large flour will at Brighton, (with four run of stones,) which had cost me already about from 24 to 25,000 dollars – the people up there promised to keep it secret so long.
On my way home, instead of feeling happy and contented, I was very unhappy, and could not see that it would benefit me much, and I was perfectly right in thinking so; as it came just precisely as I expected. I thought at the same time that it could hardly be kept secret for six weeks, and in this I was not mistaken, for about two weeks later, after my return, I sent up several teams in charge of a white man, as the teamsters were Indian boys.
This man was acquainted with all hands up there, and Mrs. Wimmer told him the whole secret; likewise the young sons of Mr. Wimmer told him that they had gold, and that they would let him have some too; and so he obtained a few dollarsa worth of it as a present. As soon as this man arrived at the fort he went to a small store in one of my outside buildings, kept by Mr. Smith, a partner of Samuel Brannan, and asked for a bottle of brandy, for which he would pay the cash; after having the bottle he paid with these small pieces of gold.
Smith was astonished and asked him if he intended to insult him; the teamster told him to go and ask me about it; Smith came in, in great haste, to see me, and I told him at once the truth – what could I do? I had to tell him all about it. He reported it to Mr. S. Brannan, who came up immediately to get all possible information, when he returned and sent up large supplies of goods, leased a larger house from me, and commenced a very large and profitable business; soon he opened a branch house of business at Mormon Island. Mr. Brannan made a kind of claim on Mormon Island, and put a tolerably heavy tax on aThe Latter Day Saints.
I believe it was 30 per cent, which they paid for some time, until they got tired of it, (some of them told me that it was for the purpose of building a temple for the honor and glory of the Lord. ) So soon as the secret was out my laborers began to leave me, in small parties first, but then all left, from the clerk to the cook, and I was in great distress; only a few mechanics remained to finish some very necessary work which they had commenced, and about eight invalids, who continued slowly to work a few teams, to scrape out the mill race at Brighton.
The Mormons did not like to leave my mill unfinished, but they got the gold fever like everybody else. After they had made their piles they left for the Great Salt Lake. So long as these people have been employed by me they hav behaved very well, and were industrious and faithful laborers, and when settling their accounts there was not one of them who was not contented and satisfied. Then the people commenced rushing up from San Francisco and other parts of California, in May, 1848: in the former village only five men were left to take care of the women and children.
The single men locked their doors and left for aSutteras Fort,a and from there to the Eldorado. For some time the people in Monterey and farther south would not believe the news of the gold discovery, and said that it was only a aRuse de Guerrea of Sutteras, because he wanted to have neighbors in his wilderness. From this time on I got only too many neighbors, and some very bad ones among them. What a great misfortune was this sudden gold discovery for me!
It has just broken up and ruined my hard, restless, and industrious labors, connected with many dangers of life, as I had many narrow escapes before I became properly established. From my mill buildings I reaped no benefit whatever, the mill stones even have been stolen and sold. My tannery, which was then in a flourishing condition, and was carried on very profitably, was deserted, a large quantity of leather was left unfinished in the vats; and a great quantity of raw hides became valueless as they could not be sold; nobody wanted to be bothered with such trash, as it was called.
So it was in all the other mechanical trades which I had carried on; all was abandoned, and work commenced or nearly finished was all left, to an immense loss for me. Even the Indians had no more patience to work alone, in harvesting and threshing my large wheat crop out; as the whites had all left, and other Indians had been engaged by some white men to work for them, and they commenced to have some gold for which they were buying all kinds of articles at enormous prices in the stores; which, when my Indians saw this, they wished very much to go to the mountains and dig gold.
At last I consented, got a number of wagons ready, loaded them with provisions and goods of all kinds, employed a clerk, and left with about one hundred Indians, and about fifty Sandwich Islanders (Kanakas) which had joined those which I brought with me from the Islands. The first camp was about ten miles above Mormon Island, on the south fork of the American river. In a few weeks we became crowded ,and it would no more pay, as my people made too many acquaintances. I broke up the camp and started on the march further south, and located my next camp on Sutter creek (now in Amador county), and thought that I should there be alone.
The work was going on well for a while, until three or four traveling grog-shops surrounded me, at from one and 8, half to two miles distance from the camp; then, of course, the gold was taken to these places, for drinking, gambling, etc. , and then the following day they were sick and unable to work, and became deeper and more indebted to me, and particularly the Kanakas. I found that it was high time to quit this kind of business, and lose no more time and money. I therefore broke up the camp and returned to the Fort, where I disbanded nearly all the people who had worked for me in the mountains digging gold.
This whole expedition proved to be a heavy loss to me. At the same time I was engaged in a mercantile firm in Coloma, which I left in January, 1849 – likewise with many sacrifices. After this I would have nothing more to do with the gold affairs. At this time, the Fort was the great trading place where nearly all the business was transacted. I had no pleasure to remain there, and moved up to Hock Farm, with all my Indians, and who had been with me from the time they were children. The place was then in charge of a Major Domo.
It is very singular that the Indians never found a piece of gold and brought it to me, as they very often did other specimens found in the ravines. I requested them continually to bring me some curiosities from the mountains, for which I always recompensed them. I have received animals, birds, plants, young trees, wild fruits, pipe clay, stones, red ochre, etc. , etc. , but never a piece of gold. Mr. Dana of the scientific corps of the expedition under Com. Wilkesa Exploring Squadron, told me that he had the strongest proof and signs of gold in the vicinity of Shasta Mountain, and furthers south.
A short time afterwards, Doctor Sandels, a very scientific traveler, visited me, and explored a part of the country in a great hurry, as time would not permit him to make a longer stay. He told me likewise that he found sure signs of gold, and was very sorry that be could not explore the Sierra Nevada. He did not encourage me to attempt to work and open mines, as it was uncertain how it would pay and would probably be only for a government. So I thought it more prudent to stick to the plow, not withstanding I did know that the country was rich in gold, and other minerals.
An old attached Mexican servant who followed me here from the United States, as soon as he knew that I was here, and who understood a great deal about working in placers, told me he found sure signs of gold in the mountains on Bear Creek, and that we would go right to work after returning from our campaign in 1845, but he became a victim to his patriotism and fell into the hands of the enemy near my encampment, with dispatches for me from Gen. Micheltorena, and he was hung as a spy, for which I was very sorry. By this sudden discovery of the gold, all my great plans were destroyed.
Had I succeeded for a few years before the gold was discovered, I would have been the richest citizen on the Pacific shore; but it had to be different. Instead of being rich, I am ruined, and the cause of it is the long delay of the United States Land Commission of the United States Courts, through the great influence of the squatter lawyers. Before my case will be decided in Washington, another year may elapse, but I hope that justice will be done me by the last tribunal – the Supreme Court of the United States.
By the Land Commission and the District Court it has been decided in my favor. The Common Council of the city of Sacramento, composed partly of squatters, paid Adelpheus Felch, (one of the late Land Commissioners, who was engaged by the squatters during his office), $5,000, from the fund of the city, against the will of the tax-payers, for which amount he has to try to defeat my just and old claim from the Mexican government, before the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington.
The gold rushes of the nineteenth century and the lives of those who worked the goldfields – the ‘diggers’ – are etched into our national folklore. There is no doubt that the gold rushes had a huge effect on the Australian economy and our development as a nation. It is also true to say that those heady times had a profound impact on the national psyche. The camaraderie and ‘mateship’ that developed between diggers on the goldfields is still integral to how we – and others – perceive ourselves as Australians.
The diggers’ defiance and open disdain of authority during this time is still a dominant theme in any discussion of our history and national identity. Indeed, mateship and defiance of authority have been central to the way our history has been told. Look at Australia’s World War I ‘diggers’ (named after their goldfield predecessors) at Gallipoli and how they have been portrayed: mates in the trenches with a healthy disrespect for their ‘English superiors’.
Even today, nothing evokes more widespread national pride than groups of irreverent Aussie ‘blokes’ beating the English at cricket, or any other sport for that matter! It is this early flowering of a national identity that makes any study of the gold rush days so intriguing. It is also true to say that the idealisation of goldfield life excludes or overlooks the squalor, greed, crime, self-interest and racism that were part and parcel of the times.