Amazing Kids! Magazine

My Experience in the Gold Rush Era

By Akshaj Mehta, 4th Grade, Sacramento


Hi, I am a 4th grade student and wanted to share with you my experience reliving California history. By visiting Coloma Gold Rush Live at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, I was able to go back in time to the Gold Rush Era.

The Gold Rush of 1849 was the massive movement of people to California following the discovery of gold there in 1848. In January 1848 James W. Marshall, a carpenter who was building a sawmill in partnership with John A. Sutter in California’s Sacramento Valley, discovered gold. This was the beginning of a major change for California.

For me, visiting the historic park was an experience of a lifetime as everyone was dressed in period clothing. The men donned cowboy hats and the ladies were wearing long gowns complimented with a front apron. I learned about the Gold Rush, the barter system, knitting and other crafts of the women, the fruits and vegetables grown in that time, and the kind of transportation used. I even had the opportunity to travel in a horse wagon. I also learned about various other discoveries made at that time, which have made a huge impact on our lives today.

The one station that really attracted my father and me and made us curious about the subject was Pharmacy / Medicine. We found the demonstration and information engaging and informative. The gentleman at that station was really funny and spoke in the English used during the Gold Rush days. Some words were very different from our phrasing today. He began his presentation by saying, “Howdy Pardner! I am a pharmacist. We didn’t have the fancy electronic devices that you have today. I am here to tell you all about the pharmacies around here. I am going to tell you rules and how to make your own medicine. So let’s get started!”

His demonstration of the process of making medicine was really funny, but certainly helped us more fully understand the techniques. He started by showing us some bird waste. Then he made an X on it and lit it on fire. He proceeded to tell us about the real state of medicine and pharmacy in the Gold Rush days. The medicines were high in sodium, alcohol and opium, which are drugs that cause intoxication. People used to just take it from anyone who would offer the medicines, not only pharmacists. The pharmacist explained some basic and important rules that we all should follow:

Rule number one:

Never ever take medicine from a stranger. You never know when they could be giving you bird waste or some other substance that could kill or harm you.

Rule number two:

Never, ever, mix medicines. Mixing medicines may cause more harm than good.  Leave the choice of medicines and their combinations to your handy pharmacist and stick to your pharmacist’s/doctor’s instructions.

This adventure made me so interested in medicine that I have decided, when I grow up, I would like to conduct research about my allergy medicine.

In a nutshell, I think that we all are blessed to have doctors and pharmacists now. This discovery changed my point of view on medicine. I am now interested to learn more about medicine and pharmacies.


  1. preeti /

    Loved the article. It was interesting to read about Gold Rush!

  2. Debjani Pal /

    Akshaj, I must say while reading I was actually taking a brief tour of the gold rush era. You told your story beautifully. Now I would rather be careful about my medicines 😉 Awesome job, keep writing.


    Great article Akshaj !!