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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

The California Gold Rush and Development of the West

Evening Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Friday, December 11, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1NV026
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A replica of Sutter’s saw mill at Marshall Gold Discovery State Park


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.

On a January day in 1848, a sparkle of gold flashed in the American River near Caloma, California, where James Marshall was building a sawmill. His discovery touched off a massive wave of gold seekers as several hundred thousand young men from around the world came to seek their fortunes. A few got rich and most left disappointed, but the gold rush of 1849 forever altered California and the nation’s destiny.

Garrett Peck examines how the California gold rush became an engine for the development of the American West, how emigrants made the epic trek to the gold fields, their impact on the environment and the area’s native tribes, and how the Transcontinental Railroad two decades later joined California to the rest of the nation.

Peck is an author, public historian, and tour guide who grew up in Sacramento exploring the California gold country.

Patron Information

  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.