The Long Way Around

By "The Cowboy" Jim Gray

News of the discovery of gold in California was well reported by October of 1848. In a message to Congress in December, U. S. President James Polk noted, “The accounts of the abundance of gold in that territory are of such an extraordinary character, as would scarcely command belief.”

By spring of 1849, it seemed as if the whole nation was on the move. Steamboats arrived at St. Joseph, Mo., bursting with emigrants. The St. Joseph Gazette estimated that 27,000 emigrants had left Independence for California by June 4, 1849. “California Fever” had taken hold of approximately 40,000 souls by mid-May, 1850. Horses, mules, and oxen were estimated at 100,000 to 120,000 head.

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