A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers to an area that has had a dramatic discovery of gold deposits. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and the United States, while smaller gold rushes took place elsewhere.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, there were several major gold rushes. The permanent wealth that resulted was distributed widely because of reduced migration costs and low barriers to entry. While gold mining itself was unprofitable for most diggers and mine owners, some people made large fortunes, and the merchants and transportation facilities made large profits. The resulting increase in the world's gold supply stimulated global trade and investment. Historians have written extensively about the migration, trade, colonization, and environmental history associated with gold rushes.
Gold rushes were typically marked by a general buoyant feeling of a "free for all" in income mobility, in which any single individual might become abundantly wealthy almost instantly, as expressed in the California Dream.
Gold rushes helped spur a huge immigration that often led to permanent settlement of new regions and define a significant part of the culture of the Australian and North American frontiers. As well, at a time when the world's money supply was based on gold, the newly-mined gold provided economic stimulus far beyond the gold fields.
Gold rushes presumably extend back as far as gold mining, to the Roman Empire, whose gold mining was described by Diodorus Siculus and Pliny the Elder, and probably further back to Ancient Egypt.
Famous quotes containing the words gold and/or rush:
“Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed
Droops on the little hands, little gold head;
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.”
—A.A. (Alan Alexander)
“Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity,
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them,
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly
different from myself,
On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,”
—Walt Whitman (18191892)