Gold was discovered in California in 1848 by John Sutter and John Marshall. They were building a sawmill when they noticed flakes of gold in the water. Most of the forty-niners rushed to the Mother Lode country, part of the western foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Over 90,000 people had reached California by 1849, and the population topped 220,000 by 1852. The rush had declined by 1854, and most prospectors turned to other jobs. Idea: Children could find out how mine claims are made legal and how assays prove metal content of ore. Children could learn more at: California Gold. Children would really enjoy reading Sid Fleischman’s excellent historical fiction book By the Great Horn Spoon!
Hale Telescope on Mount Palomar began operations in 1949. Named after George Ellery Hale, the 200-inch reflecting telescope was the largest of its kind. Located near San Diego, California, the telescope is still in use. Children can view a webcam at the telescope’s site at: Hale Telescope.
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1848, ending the war between Mexico and the United States. In return for fifteen million dollars from the United States, Mexico gave up the land that became California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Texas also became part of the United States. Children can learn more at: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
First glider flight in the United States occurred in 1893. John Joseph Montgomery flew his glider near Otay, California.
Swallows return to San Juan Capistrano, California. The American cliff swallows arrive after wintering in Argentina. They stay until October 23 when they fly 6,000 miles back to Goya, Argentina. Children could visit a website at: Swallows. They could read Leo Politi’s classic, Song of the Swallows.
First wagon train left Independence, Missouri, for California in 1841. The wagon train reached its destination November 4, 1841. Most wagon trains left in the spring, because it took four or five months to reach their destination. The trains did not want to be isolated in the mountains during winter. The trains, perhaps as much as one hundred wagons long, traveled about fifteen to twenty miles a day. The wagons were called prairie schooners because their white tops looked like billowing sails. Idea: Children could view copies of Russell Freedman’s Children of the Wild West.
Ellen Church became the first woman flight attendant in 1930. The United Airlines employee flew from San Francisco, California, to Chicago, Illinois. The 20-hour flight stopped at numerous cities. Female flight attendants became more common, but they often had to help pilots, process luggage, or push airplanes into hangars.
RMS Queen Mary made her first voyage in 1936. She traveled from Southampton, England, to New York, New York. She shuttled passengers between North America and Europe for many years. During World War II the ship was refitted to transport troops. After the war she again became a luxury liner until 1967 when she was retired to Long Beach, California. Today the RMS Queen Mary is a tourist attraction.
Golden Gate Bridge opened to pedestrian traffic in 1937, and vehicles could cross the bridge on May 28. Construction began on January 5, 1933. About 4,200 feet long, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge until 1964 when the Verrazano Narrows Bridge opened. Children can learn more at: Research. They could also learn more at America’s Library: Golden Gate.
Sierra Club was organized in 1892 in San Francisco, California. John Muir was the first president. Children could visit the group’s website at: http://www.sierraclub.org.