Gold Rush, Part 2

The year is 1875. A man fishing in the isolated Trout River of California has just discovered several large gold nuggets. He has reported his findings to the United States government officials. The officials are worried about another Gold Rush like the one in 1849, which was uncontrolled and led to many problems.

They decide to have a competition. The small towns of Sleepyville, Deer Valley, Pinetown and Quiet Gulch all lie along the Trout River. The government offers a generous amount of the tax money that the miners will pay to the town that comes up with the best plan for managing the crowds that will come to the area once the discovery is announced. That town will be designated as the official Boom Town of 1875.

Each town is asked to consider transportation, housing, and providing food and goods for the arriving miners. Preserving the area's beautiful environment is also important to the people living there, so the plans will have to assure residents that nothing will be changed. Keeping law and order in the area is also an important issue to consider.

A committee from each town will be asked to present their findings to a United States government panel, who will decide where the Boom Town will be established.

The Task

Committees will be formed from each of the four towns: Sleepyville, Deer Valley, Pinetown or Quiet Gulch. It will be each committee's job to come up with a plan that will successfully solve the problems of the last Gold Rush. In order to do this, you must first find the following information about the Gold Rush of 1849:

  • How did the miners reach the gold fields? What problems did this trip cause?
  • What did the miners do once they reached the fields?
  • What kinds of equipment did they need for mining? What other goods did they need?
  • Were there any problems caused by these needs? How did they get the supplies that they needed?
  • Did any of the mining cause harm to the environment?
  • What kind of problems arose in the mining towns before there were laws? What laws were needed?

Once you have answers to these questions, you will come up with solutions to each of the problems.

Each town's committee must write a convincing argument to present to the U.S. government panel, which will be composed of students or adults who are not part of your class. Your presentations will let them know how you intend to solve each of the problems of the past Gold Rush. They will then select the town with the best plan.

In choosing the best plan, the government panel will consider the following issues:

  • Have the problems of reaching the gold fields been handled well?
  • Have provisions been made for miners to purchase mining supplies as well as food and other essentials?
  • Are the plans for housing adequate for all of the miners?
  • Has careful thought been given to the problem of law and order?
  • Has the committee presented ideas for protecting the environment?

The Process

Your class will divide into five groups: one for each of the four towns and one for the government committee who will make the decision.

Each town's group will need to make a chart showing each of the following items in a column across the top: transportation to the fields, mining materials, food and other goods, and laws. In the first row under these headings, you will write how these matters were handled in 1849 and the problems that were caused by each. In the second row, list how you think these needs will be met in this 1875 Gold Rush in order to solve the problems of the last one.

It may also be valuable to read about the Gold Rush in Australia to see how they improved on some of the problems of the 1849 California Gold Rush.

You will also need to think about the events that have taken place in the years since the last California Gold Rush. Are there any new kinds of transportation? Have there been changes in the government in California? Will these affect the new Gold Rush?

Make your charts clear and use them as tools to make your presentations to the government panel. They will decide on the best plan based on the committee that has carefully thought out all of the problems and come up with good solutions.

Resources

Your Social Studies textbook will tell you about the problems of the 1849 Gold Rush. There are many books that you will be able to find in the library that will also help.

There are also quite a few Internet sites that will give you valuable information about the last Gold Rush and gold mining. Here are a few:

A Brief History of California's Gold
http://www.goldfever.com/

The Goldrush: Journey
http://www.pbs.org/goldrush/journey.html

Sacramento Bee Gold Rush Series
http://www.calgoldrush.com/

Discovery of Gold in California by John Sutter
http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist2/gold.html

PBS Documentary: The Gold Rush
http://www.isu.edu/~trinmich/home.html

Oakland Museum Exhibit: Gold Fever!
http://www.museumca.org/goldrush.html

You might also want to look at this site:

Driving the Last Spike
http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist1/rail.html

Learning Advice

Within your group, have each member research one of the issues to be evaluated--mining tools, transportation, etc. It is a good idea to take notes on index cards as you work, and then share what you have found before entering it on your chart. Once you have entered all of your information on the chart, practice your presentation to the panel. Have all group members give their ideas about the best way to convince the government representatives that you have solved all of the problems that might come up.

Be sure to consider all of the information that you have found as well as the changes in California since 1849. Remember to include the effects of the mining on the environment in your presentation.

Evaluation

The presentation must include good information to argue its point on the following topics:

  • Have the problems of reaching the gold fields been handled well?
  • Have provisions been made for miners to purchase mining supplies as well as food and other essentials?
  • Are the plans for housing adequate for all of the miners?
  • Has careful thought been given to the problem of law and order?
  • Has the committee presented ideas for protecting the environment?
  • The presentation must show excellence in speaking including good stage presence and proper use of language.
 

Reflection

1. Research was complete and related to the point of presentation

2. Used effective visuals or technology

3. Oral delivery
> Persuasive
> Used proper English conventions
> Presentation clear, poised, and audible

4. Reasoning was sound


Adaptations for Special Needs:
Second language students can create supplemental pictures and posters for the presentations, and work with an English speaking student when doing the oral activity.

Lesson submitted by: Karen Krupnick
Chino Unified School District
kkrupnic@cyberg8t.com

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Last Revised: 03/23/06