Room Two

The Journey

George H. Baker drew these scenes and J. M. Hutchings of Placerville published them as a letter sheet. The trip across the plains proved to be no small undertaking as many an argonaut's diary would attest. Only two scenes on this sheet depict the perils, the rest depict scenes that would be familiar to the forty-niners.

Hutchings' panoramic scenes, crossing the plains
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Hutchings' panoramic scenes, crossing the plains
BANC PIC 1963.002:0055--B
Calisphere Image Source

Aretas J. Blackman's detailed account of his overland journey to California, his life in the diggings, and his return to New York by ship via the Isthmus route.

Journal of Overland Journey to California
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Journal of Overland Journey to California
BANC MSS 2002/202 v.1

The hardship of the overland journey did not necessarily end when the party arrived in California. This song relates the story of an emigrant family who arrived at the San Joaquin River after the heavy rains had begun. The mother died on the plains; the father is left with two children. Their supplies are used up and the swollen river prevents their crossing to obtain food.

Father! I'm Hungered, Give Me Bread
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Father, I'm hungered, give me bread, or the last words in the emigrant's dying child
BANC PIC 1963.002:1751--AX
Calisphere Image Source

Brothers Henry and William Anable came to California in 1852 searching for the golden strike that would make them rich. Although they held joint claim to this mine, William ran the mine while his brother Henry ran a merchantile operation. They returned east in 1854 because Henry's fiancée refused to join him in California.

Anable Placer Mine
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View of the Anable Placer Mine, Auburn, California
BANC PIC 1966.012--CASE
Calisphere Image Source

The other route to California was by sea. Here, Isaac Baker's journal records his voyage around the Horn. His writings also provide an interesting glimpse into the life of one of the forty-niners, complete with sketches to illustrate the text. He later produced large paintings of some of these sketches, which are also in the Bancroft collection.

Isaac W. Baker journals
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Isaac W. Baker journals
BANC MSS C-F 53 v.2

Clipper cards served as advertisements for the ships plying the California trade. The three cards displayed all advertise ships that arrived in San Francisco during the period of June 17, 1852 to January 6, 1853. The Sea Serpent made the fastest passage of the season in 112 days from New York. The Winged Arrow made its passage in 113 days from Boston and lost an eighteen year old sailor off Cape Horn. The Golden Fleece took longer, 140 days, in sailing from Boston. The clippers did carry passengers, but their primary concern was cargo.

Clipper Cards
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Three Clipper Cards
BANC PIC 1963.002:1556:039,92,111--A
Calisphere Image Source
Golden Fleece
Sea Serpent
Winged Arrow

This view by an unknown photographer was once said to be the earliest taken of San Francisco. It is one half of an original panoramic view of San Francisco and was taken from the corner of Kearny and Clay Streets. Note the great number of ships laying at rest in what now is the financial district of San Francisco. Although not the earliest photograph of the city, a date prior to May 4, 1851 is confirmed because the storeship Niantic is visible. The ship was destroyed by the May 4 fire that swept through San Francisco. The three story brick buildings add to the image of the growing economic importance of the city. Of particular interest is the sign atop the building at the extreme right edge of the plate, "DAGUERREAN," possibly marking the studio of the photographer.

San Francisco, east from Kearny and Clay Streets
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San Francisco, east from Kearny and Clay Streets, with masts of sailing ships in the harbor
BANC PIC 1905.16242:106--CASE
Calisphere Image Source

Bayard Taylor came to California to report on the gold rush for the New York Tribune. Considered by many scholars to be the best of the books to be written about the early stages of the gold rush, Eldorado became a best seller in both the United States and England.

Eldorado
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Eldorado; or, Adventures in the path of empire
F865.T23 1859
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