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On the Trail to the California Gold Rush

On the Trail to the California Gold Rush (Paperback)

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Lured by "the astonishing accounts of the vast deposits of gold in California," Alonzo Delano (1806-74) of Ottawa, Illinois, bid farewell to his wife and children and joined the rush to El Dorado. For the next five months-April to early September 1849-he persevered in writing his remarkably detailed diary, recounting his experiences among the more than thirty thousand goldseekers representing all thirty states who struggled across half of the continent to California's "gold fields." With each entry the reader is drawn into the changing circumstances, from a hurried trailside burial of a comrade to a defense against an Indian attack; from suffering thirst in the desert to anger at a lazy campmate. Unlike most diarists who at the end of the epic journey gave up their demanding task, Delano continued his vivid account until the summer of 1851. He went on to report as a professional journalist, ranging far and wide across the scenes of life in the diggings and the cities, from prospecting along the Yuba River to witnessing lynch law in San Francisco. First published in 1854 as Life on the Plains and among the Diggings and deemed a California Gold Rush classic, this new edition will carry on the adventure for thousands of new readers.

J. S. Holliday is the director emeritus of the California Historical Society and the author of The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience and Rush for Riches: Gold Fever and the Making of California.

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