The California gold rush was a period in history marked by hysteria concerning a gold discovery in Northern California. The period is also marked by mass migrations into California by people, almost exclusively men, seeking an easy fortune. Most, however, only found enough gold to barely pay for their daily expenses. The rush started at Sutter's Mill near Coloma, California on January 24, 1848 when James W. Marshall, an employee of Sacramento agriculturist John Sutter, found a gold nugget. Sutter wanted to suppress this fact because he was more concerned with expanding his utopian ideal of an agricultural empire than finding fortune in the cold American River. But rumors soon surfaced, and confirmed by San Francisco newspaper publisher and merchant Samuel Brannan, and the inevitable wave of immigration from around the world called the "49ers" soon invaded what would soon be called the Gold Country of California. As he predicted when he saw the gold nugget, Sutter was ruined as more and more of his agricultural workers left in search of gold and squatters invaded his land and stole his crops.
The gold rush prompted considerable development in California, and sparked the building of the Panama Railway.