Lesson One: Getting to the Gold Fields
Upon completing the lesson students will be able to:
- Describe how the news of James Marshall's gold discovery along the American River in 1848 drew thousands of men and some women from all over the world.
- Discuss that while there were numerous routes to California, three were most commonly used: Cape Horn, Isthmus of Panama, and the overland trail.
- Explain the concept of immigration and the role geography plays in the movement of people.
One class period (45-50 minutes)
Computer and digital projector
"Routes to the Gold Fields" power point & script
"Travel to the Gold Fields" worksheet & Answer Key
1. Begin the lesson by exploring the students' knowledge of California's gold rush. Discuss with the students how news of the discovery of gold brought such a diverse migration to California.
2. With a world map available for reference, ask students to brainstorm how the miners got to the gold fields from South America, Asia, eastern United States, Europe, etc. 3. View the "Routes to the Gold Fields" power point.
What are some reasons people decided to come to California during the gold rush?
Discuss the difference between an immigrant and emigrant.
Between 1848 and 1852, California's population grew from 14,000 to 223,000. From what countries did gold seekers come?
4. Pass out the "Travel to the Gold Fields" worksheet. Once students complete the worksheet, collect it.
As either an in-class or homework project, have students design an advertisement poster or flyer for the route they chose for question 12 on the "Travel to the Gold Fields" worksheet. The advertisement should include the departure date, cost, route, and reasons why it is the best route. Remind the students that they are trying to "sell" their route, so encourage them to make it eye-catching with lots of color. If time permits have students present persuasive speeches advocating their route of travel.
"Travel to the Gold Fields" worksheet