January 24 - 1848 - Gold is Discovered at Sutter's Mill
When James Marshall saw flecks of gold in the American River as he was building a sawmill for John Sutter, he knew he had discovered something special. John Sutter was the most significant property owner in the Northern Central Valley of California at the time, and he thought keeping the discovery of gold a secret would benefit his ability to profit from it. Instead, his employees paid shopkeeper Samuel Brannan in pieces of gold. Brannan publicized the presence of gold in California, but only after starting a store selling mining equipment. At that point, the California Gold Rush was inaugurated. Coming right after the conclusion of the Mexican-American War and the transfer of California to America, the California Gold Rush transformed the area, making San Francisco a significant port and creating boom towns all around Sutter's Mill. It would also enrich men like Brannan and Levi Strauss, but left Marshall and Sutter no richer than before.