The shady side of the gold rush (1849)

The shady side of the picture

The Bangor Whig and Courier publishes extracts of a letter from a gentleman at the Sandwich Islands, who had been at the mines in California for two months, furnished by Mr Dole of Brewer, Maine. After describing the cold region and the abundance of the precious metal taken daily, the writer continues:

“One might suppose from reading the above that digging gold is a very profitalile business, but there are other things to be considered. At San Francisco, board and lodging, three in a bed, or on the floor, is from $20 to $30 a week. Pork is $50 a barrel, and butter $1 a pound, at wholesale. At the mines, pork is $200 a barrel.

“And then the sickness. Nine-tenths of all who have gone to the mines have been taken sick. Hundreds were lying sick at Sutter’s Fort, unable to procure a passage to San Francisco, and suffering from want of attendance and of the necessaries of life.

“Bilious and intermittent fevers prevail to an alarming extent. Take all things into account, and I think those that stay at home the best off.

“Mr H has gone to San Francisco to see what he can do to persuade the people to lay up a treasure in Heaven. He will doubtless find full employment among the sick and dying. Two individuals who went from Honolulu base been murdered — one of them leaving a wife, a very excellent woman, and four or five children. He had been addicted to drinking and gambling.”

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