On This Day in Oil & Gas: January 24th - Discovery Of Gold

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January 24th 1848, Culloma, Alta California, Mexico – A 38-year old New Jerseyan carpenter is surveying the water course on the site of a proposed sawmill mere days before California becomes an American possession. As he steps down to inspect the depth of the channel more closely, James Wilson Marshall notices a constellation of shiny flecks glinting back at him in the afternoon sun. He bends down to collect a handful of pieces. After a few rudimentary tests, his mind is made up:

  • "I have found it" he said to his colleague, Mr Scott.
  • "What is it?" inquired Scott.
  • "Gold."

Marshall’s discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill precipitated the California Gold Rush – a worldwide migration that would see 20 nationalities descend on Californian soil and the population of San Francisco swell from 1,000 to 25,000 in 24 months. By the end of the 1850s, estimates put the total amount of gold mined at some $600 million and California was well on the way to becoming the most populous state in the USA.

What has this got to do with oil and gas? Well, the shale boom in North Dakota has sparked a Black Gold Rush of its own, and the Flickertail State now leads the other 49 in terms of net migration with a population increase of four per cent since 2008 which is set to climb a further 50 per cent in the next two decades. Bah criminy! There’s gol’ in them thar wells!

PS – The Gold Rush of 1849 inspired the naming of the San Francisco 49ers. The Williston Frackers in a couple of years anyone?



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