Just a couple of details to keep in mind as you play:
1. Your name is Albert Adams and you work as a teamster hearding draft animals.
2. You have a wife Cecilia and two children. You had a third child, but they died from sickness a few years ago.
3. You are a white male in his early 20's and you live in Independence, Missouri.
[[Click Here| The Setting]] to begin.It is late March 1848, and you work as a teamster, driving draft animals for a living. You and your family live meagerly enough to allow yourself some savings on the side, but it's nothing too big.
While the work is readily available, it's nothing to get excited about and always leaves you wanting more. You feel as if you're not able to give your family the life you want for them and if you stay in this place, you surely never will be able to.
After finishing another day's work, you need to unwind and think for a bit. You decide to...
* [[Go to the Saloon]]
* [[Go to the General Store]]
You decide to unwind at the local saloon. It's not something you indulge in much, but occasionally you have been known to stop off there after a hard day's work for a drink. As you approach the saloon you hear a chorus of voices all talking about gold in California! You speak to several people all giving you the same story; that there's gold out in California, as far as the eye can see, waiting and ready for the taking! You decide right there and then that this is the opportunity you've been waiting for to make it big, and provide a better life for your family.
[[Go forward|Go for it]]You decide to head to the general store to pick up a couple of things for the household. On your way there, you see a young man selling newspapers. You've got a little bit of extra money and feel like keeping up with current events, so you decide to buy one.
You take a seat on a nearby shaded bench and begin to read about large amounts of gold being discovered out west in California. You brush it off as being a larger than life headline to get attention and sell more papers.
You finish with your reading and head into the general store to gather supplies. You start up conversation with the local shopkeepe on these headlines of California being full of gold, and the man's eyes light up. "It's truer than you might think! I've been selling supplies like crazy to lots of adventurers, willing to set out west and claim their fortunes!" You decide that the supplies can wait for now, and immediately head home to talk this over with your family.
After talking it over with your wife, you decide you must go. Your wife reluctantly accepts. You decide to sell whatever you don't need, pack up your things and use the savings you have to purchase enough supplies and provisions for the long trip to California.
You know it wont be easy getting there, but well worth it if one can find gold just by reaching into a river.
[[Go for it]] After much thought you conclude it is destiny that wants you to go. You are happy about what you may find ahead, yet worried about the long road and harsh conditions that face your family in the coming months. You don't want to leave everything behind, yet this is an opportunity, an almost guaranteed win, that is there for the taking. You feel like you would be a fool not to go. You set off with your family on the first day of April, on the long Journey westward.
[[Go forward|Travel by wagon]] The only way to get there is by covered wagon. Should you pull up your resources and [[Go at it alone]] or minimize your expenses and [[Share the risk]]?You decide you will use all of your savings and prepare for the journey ahead. You buy food and tools from the local general store as the shopkeeper wishes you good luck in your endeavours. You ready your wagon and oxen to get moving on the Oregon trail.
[[Go forward|Oregon Trail]] You decide it would be safer and cheaper if you band together with others who are headed to California. After all, there's safety in numbers. You join a wagon train of several other wagons ready to leave and make arrangements for the travel together.
[[Go forward|Oregon Trail]] You spend a long 6 months on the wagon with your family in tow. You are glad to have them with you on the long trip, but the journey is long from enjoyable.
[[Press onward|Hard travel]] You arrive at Coloma and quickly realize that Panning for gold is not going to be as easy as you thought. Everywhere you look is crowded and full of miners who have made it here earlier than you. Everyone is here for the same reason, of finding their fame and fortune in gold.
You wonder if you should pick a spot immediately to prevent any further problems in the future, or if it's better to gather some information from the local miners first.
You decide to...
[[Claim your stake, ASAP|Work the Riverbed]].
[[Check the local saloon for info|Coloma Saloon]]
[[Head to the mining camp for advice|Mining Camp]]Lately it seems that there have been more reports of native encounters on the trail. From what you can tell, most of the natives seem peaceful enough, if just upset at the large amount of travelers now encroaching on their land. However, if an attack does happen, you'll want to protect your family from any danger. You continue the rest of the journey on high alert of any possible attacks from aggressive natives.
[[Continue towards your destination|Coloma]] The western exodus has been long and hard. Early in the trip, exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke were causing problems for your family and others on the trail, but now that the weather has become colder, sickness is becoming more rampant amongst travelers. You've come across many people already who have had to bury loved ones who couldn't live past a strong fever or flu. Knowing that feeling already, you count yourself lucky that nothing too serious has hit your family as of yet, as you couldn't bear the thought of having to bury another one of your children as a result of your actions towards moving out west.
[[Go forward|Native encounter]] You find an empty spot of land that looks good and immediately get to work, eager to find gold lurking in the mud below the bustling river.
[[begin panning for gold|Panning for gold]]Panning did not come as easy as you thought it would. It was back breaking work and the results were bare bones or non-existant.
[[Keep Panning|Not what expected]]You notice how Indians are pushed around and in some cases are forced to work for others. Some of the truly unlucky ones are shot for mere sport. The life of an Indian is not worth much around these parts.
You on the other hand have a choice. You can come and go as you please and all rights are in your favor. You justify your fortune as god willing, "manifest destiny" as some call it. Everyone who is not an American is not entitled to what is rightfully yours.
[[Continue panning your stake|Pan your Stake]]Everyone before you has already taken the easy gold, at the top. You are now having to work harder to get a fraction of gold. Some seem to be lucky, and have no problem finding sums of gold, but you and others seem to struggle to locate any in the mud and streams. However, there are still others with even more struggles than what you're currently dealing with.
[[Native Indians|treatment of indians]] Primary Sources
Hansen, Gladys. “ The Excitement and Enthusiasm of Gold Washing Still Continues—Increases.” California Star: "A Rush to the Gold Washings" - 1848, California Star Newspaper, www.sfmuseum.org/hist6/star.html.
Sutter, John A. “THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD IN CALIFORNIA.” Discovery of Gold, by John A. Sutter - 1848, Hutchings’ California Magazine, www.sfmuseum.org/hist2/gold.html.
Starr, Kevin. California: a History. Modern Library, 2015.
Johnson, Susan Lee. Roaring Camp: the Social World of the California Gold Rush. W.W. Norton, 2001.
Madley, Benjamin. An American Genocide: the United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873. Yale University Press, 2017.
Brands, H. W. The Age of Gold: the California Gold Rush and the New American Dream. The Folio Society, 2015.
“The Gold Rush.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/goldrush/.
After a few days of toiling in the muddy waters with nothing to show for it, you begin to lose heart. Your muscles are tired and the heat is bearing down on you constantly. It's almost becoming too much to bear. You feel as though you should search out a new spot elsewhere, as this one doesn't seem to be hiding any precious gold under it's muddy floor. Still, your gut is telling you to press on in this spot, and that the only reason you haven't found any gold yet is that you haven't dug deep enough. It's there. You can feel it there, can't you?
[[Your gut's always right! There's gold hidden here!|Alone End]]
[[No sense in looking for something that's not there. Time to move elsewhere|Basic End]]You decide to head to the saloon to see if you can gather info on where the hot spots in town for panning are. You spot gather from the patrons the locations of two local miners sitting on opposite ends of the bar. A burley looking man on the far side of the bar, and an older prospector on the bar side closer to you.
Who will you talk to?
[[The burley man|Burley Man]]
[[The old man|Old Man]]
[[Neither. You've changed your mind, and can do this yourself|Work the Riverbed]]You head off to the mining camp to ask for advice from the professionals. When you get there, you notice a couple of miners free to talk. One gruff looking man with a handlebar mustache, and a younger looking man with a dirty face.
Who will you ask?
[[Ask the gruff man|Gruff Man]]
[[Ask the young man|Young Man]]
[[This was a mistake. You should just follow your gut instincts|Work the Riverbed]]The burley man finishes his glass of beer as you approach him. From the looks of it, it's his seventh glass since he's arrived. You approach him and he gives you a solid pat on the back, followed by a hearty laugh. He claims to have made his fortune with a secret spot that no one else has discovered. He says that he'll share the secret with you if you can outdrink him at the bar. He'll even give you a seven glass handicap to give you a chance (not that he had a choice, being seven glasses in already).
[[Accept the man's challenge|Debt End]]
[[Turn down his game|Saloon 2]]You approach the old man sitting at the bar and ask to sit next to him. He happily gives you the seat and strikes up conversation to discuss his panning excursions. It seems that he was here early enough to get a good share of the gold, but luck never seemed to be on his side. He only ever came across small fragments, but nothing beyond enough to afford a drink in this saloon here or there. He goes on to tell you that he has begun regretting his decision here, as he knows there's not much gold left and he doesn't have much time left where he is still able bodied enough to meet the physical requirements for panning all day. Furthermore, he left his family behind to undertake this journey and feels like too much of a failure to reconnect with them. You thank the old man for his time, and leave him to finish his drink. This talk has been a bit eye opening for you, as you want to strike it rich, but don't want to follow in the old man's footsteps. After much thought, you decide to...
[[Give up on gold panning and find a stable job|Family End]]
[[Perservere and continue seeking your fortune|Old Man 2]]You approach the gruff man who is currently in the middle of relaxing with a local newspaper. As you go to get his attention and ask for the advice of a veteran, he responds with only a "Hmph!" and goes back to reading his paper. It doesn't seem like he's the type for talking, or for that matter, helping.
[[Try your hand at talking to the young man|Young Man]]
[[You've wasted enough time here|Corporation End]]You greet the young man, and he responds back with a friendly smile. You strike up conversation and while he only started a short while ago, he's more than happy to help you out with some assistance. He directs you to a location he claims is mostly untapped, but has not had a high yield like other locations. You thank him for his time and advice and offer to buy him a drink if you strike it rich.
You choose to...
[[Follow his advice and head for his location|Riches End]]
[[Decide it's not worth the time for a low yield and pick somewhere else|Corporation End]]You decide to go away from where the crowds are and find a quieter place to pan for gold at. Unfortunately, you have no such luck with finding any gold, and after weeks of minimal gain, you decide to take work in town to pay the bills. Years later, a corporation comes into town offering work and decent salary for anyone who wants to sign on with them to excavate gold through hydrolic mining. While you won't get to keep the profits of the gold you find, you decide that the possibility of higher profits sounds much better than taking odd jobs around town to pay the bills. You realize that this isn't what you had in mind when you gave up everything to move out west, but as long as you can provide for your family, you suppose that's all that really matters in the end.
-ENDYou figure that even a light yield is better than nothing and head off to the location the young man marked on the map. When you get there, it's practically uninhabited as of yet, with much room to pan.
Days pass as you find small bits here and there, but nothing that will really change your quality of living. Then, after two weeks of solid hard work and sifting through the mud, it happens. You pull up a handful of deep mud in a spot you've been staking and feel a good, solid chunk of gold nestled in your muddy palm. Then another. And another. And another, until your small satchel has been filled with lumps of solid gold! It seems that due to many people writing this location off as a dud, the hidden mother lode was left untapped, waiting for the right person to come along and find it. You return to town to tell you wife and children. Your wife bursts into joyful tears, and your kids run over to hug you, proud of the fruits of your labor. You sell the gold you have on you for a hefty sum and continue returning to the spot to excavate the remaining riches until it's completely tapped out. With the gains of this haul alone, you can give your family the comfortable, happy lifestyle that they've deserve for many years to come.
-ENDYou accept the burly man's challenge with a smile on your face. How hard can it be? He's already seven glasses down and you're feeling fit as a fiddle. By the time you reach your 5th glass, the room has begun spinning and you find yourself having trouble sitting straight in your bar seat. Another 4 glasses and you can feel yourself fall to the floor before everything goes dark.
You awaken some time later propped up against a back wall of the saloon, the burly man nowhere to be seen. According to the bartender after you blacked out, the burly man and his colleagues continued drinking, racking up quite the hefty tab owed to the barkeep. A tab that has been handed off to you, since you lost his little game. You used most of the money you had to buy supplies and provisions to get here and don't have enough to pay off the extravagant amount that has now befallen to you. The barkeep threatens to have you thrown in the local jail if you don't work off your tab. The threat is enough to make you agree, but due to the low wages, cost of living, and constant payment of the debt, you're now worse off than you were before you left. Your family slowly dwindles into poverty as you struggle to make ends meet.
-ENDYou feel like even with the handicap, you're no match for his insatiable thirst and decline his invitation. He shrugs you off and you leave the saloon to search for yourself.
[[Find a good spot and begin|Corporation End]]You realize that you got caught up in the whole gold rush fever and almost lost sight of what was truly important. You immediately return to your family and apologize for putting them through this whole ordeal for the pursuit of a pipe dream that may never come true. You agree to look for more stable work in town that will keep them living the same lifestyle you're accustomed to and continue striving for something better. You aren't going to make the same mistake that old man in the saloon made. You know what's truly important here and will do what it takes to keep them safe and healthy, even if it means never having a chance at fortune again.
-ENDYou won't make the same mistake this old man did. You know that there's gold waiting for you somewhere out there and all you need to do is go out and find it. You leave the saloon with your drive burning stronger than ever, determined to strike it rich for you and your family.
[[Days go by...|Pan your Stake]]You know that there's gold here, hiding just out of sight. You continue panning the area, day after day, always so certain that your next sift will be the big one, finding the mother lode that everyone else gave up on too soon. However, the big break never comes and you lose much in the process. After one of your children becomes sick and takes on a high fever, you leave your wife to take care of them, so that you can continue panning for gold that you assure her will allow you to hire the best doctors to care for your sick child, with plenty left over. More days pass as you succumb to your obsession of finding the hidden mother lode, and after fighting for as long as they can, your child eventually succumbs to the sickness and passes. Furious at your actions, your wife leaves you and takes your remaining child, cursing you as she goes. You continue sifting through the muddy bottom of the river, positive that your fortune is here. As more time passes, you only ever find small bits, which fuel your fantasies even further. However, you ultimately waste any money you make at the local saloon, drinking away your sadness over the family that you've lost in pursuit of financial gain.
-ENDYou decide that this spot looks empty, and to spend any more time here will be a further waste of precious energy. You search around for different spots before finally settling on one further upstream. It's a longer hike to get there from town, but the locations here are less crowded by others. After panning a small area for days, you spy something shiny glimmering under the rushing water. You dip your pan into the water and scoop up the mud to confirm your suspicions. A nugget of gold nestled snugly in the lump of mud in your pan! You quickly tuck it into the small sack at your side and immediately dig into the mud again, pulling up several other small nuggets and broken bits that you wash and store away. You take the gold back into town and sell it for a sizeable amount. Not the fortune you were hoping for (at least, not yet), but it's definitely something! You return home to deliver the good news to your family and decide to use your newfound wealth to purchase jewelry as a gift for your wife, and toys as gifts for your children, to thank them for staying with you through the long and arduous journey.