Gold! Gold! Gold! What is it about this precious metal that causes such a rush among human beings? Throughout history, the discovery of gold veins has sparked mass movements of people and capital to hitherto unknown parts of the world. Gold rushes have been documented as far back as ancient Rome, but most of the major gold rushes occurred during the modern era, which runs roughly from 1500 AD to the present.
The most famous gold rush in American history is the California Gold Rush of 1849, (RealClearHistory covered it recently), but the history of gold rushes deserves a bit more scrutiny. Why on earth would a precious metal cause so much upheaval in population transfers, in spending on infrastructure, and on violence and property rights adjudication? Here are 10 gold rushes in history that deserve more attention:
10. Klondike Gold Rush (1896-99), Yukon Territory, Canada. Let’s start with Canada’s most famous gold rush. While gold was discovered in 1896, the Klondike was so hard to reach (the Canadian government required each potential miner to travel with a year’s worth of supplies before embarking on the journey) that the gold rush didn’t really get going until 1898. Continue Reading →