Growing Food for the Gold Rush

103# English   112# Spanish


          On the morning of January 24, 1848, John Marshall spotted the gleam that made his heart thump.  It was gold, and this discovery influenced how food was grown and produced in the Sacramento Valley.


           Not all miners made their fortune mining gold.  Some immigrants fell into a familiar routine of clearing the land, farming and stocking it as they went along.  Hunting and fishing were practiced for subsistence.  All that was missing were the wives and children, some of whom arrived by the overland route in the mid-1800’s.  Among the immigrants were settlers who began their lives along Putah Creek in Yolo County.  They staked out land, raised cattle, farmed, and sought a fresh start.  Putah Creek’s population was about 900 by 1850.  They were transplanted southerners, mainlanders from Pennsylvania, and travelers from Germany and Great Britain.  They brought a host of different backgrounds, values and beliefs.  Most of them identified themselves as Westerners. (25)


           The early recordings note the amazement of travelers who came upon an utterly flat, treeless grassland encompassing thousands of acres.  They observed that farmers had planted wheat and other crops.  Entrepreneurs developed giant machines pulled by teams of horses and mules to harvest crops. 


          Because of the unique relationship between tractors and early machines used to cultivate and harvest you’ll see an evolution of tractors and threshers, reapers, combines and harvesters in the Fred C. Heidrick permanent collection.