Economic Boom

49's Panning for Gold

49's panning for gold in California

Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss, founder and onwer of Levi Strauss & Co.

With over three-hundred thousand people searching for gold in California, the end result was truly incredible. Nearly eight-hundred thousand pounds of gold was obtained, equaling about three-hundred and fifty million dollars. In today’s economy, that same amount is worth over thirty billion dollars. Even with labor shortages in most markets at this time, the sheer quantity of gold found, along with the investments made by the banks and big business moguls, allowed America’s economy to soar to new heights.

However, self-mining for gold was not a very profitable career. Most individuals who set west in search of their self-made fortune were often left with little more than they started with. And in the case of Chinese, Mexicans, and African Americans, they were forced out of mining stakes due to unfair taxes set on them and were left in a worse position than they had started.

So where did all the money go? The government collected most of it, and the mining business that were big enough made a handsome profit. But the most successful individuals were merchants, such as Levi Strauss. His Patented blue denim jeans became a necessity for miners across the state. He, and other merchants, were able to corner the mining market by providing a product or service that was inherently essential to search for gold.