This is one of my favorite All Pro Dad articles written by BJ Foster, All Pro Dad’s Director of Content.
At the beginning of 1848, a carpenter named James Marshall was working on building a sawmill near Sacramento, California when he found gold. Although he and his employer tried to keep the discovery quiet, news started to spread. Sam Brannan, a shop owner in nearby San Francisco, looked to cash in, not by mining but by selling equipment to prospectors. He initially announced the great gold hope in the streets and then he sent publications east. Initial reports around the country were greeted by skepticism. But, in December, President Polk confirmed the abundance of gold in California. By 1849, the rush was on. The hope-filled prospectors looking to strike it rich became known as “The 49ers”. Unfortunately, some thought they struck it rich only to find out that the shiny, gold substance was only pyrite. It is otherwise known as “fool’s gold”. While gold is both soft and nearly indestructible, pyrite is brittle and breaks apart easily. Another way to tell the difference is during panning; pyrite is lighter and will easily move around the pan with the water while gold will normally stay in the same place