In 1848, while working at a sawmill in Coloma, California, James W. Marshall discovered gold flakes in the American River. This discovery sparked what would come to be known as the California Gold Rush, causing hundreds of thousands of business owners, artists, lawyers and people of all trades to leave their lives behind and flock to Northern California in pursuit of fortune and opportunity.
The Gold Rush was California’s defining moment, a moment immortalized by the state’s motto “Eureka! I have found it!” What California found, however, went beyond gold. The state found its identity as a melting pot of people, cultures and ideas that persists to this day. This moment of self-discovery was California’s true “eureka moment.”