To California by Sea
The gold rush drew wealth-seekers from around the world. More than a third came by sea.
Glittering rumors of gold for the taking spread from California around the globe beginning in 1848. Tens of thousands of people left homes and families to chase the dream of quick riches. For most of the world, the ocean was the only way to reach California. For Americans, it was the fastest way. In 1849 alone, 42,000 Americans headed west over land; 25,000 took to the waves.