This passage discusses the discovery of gold in California, which helped to start the movement of people out to the West.
In 1848, gold was found in California. Gold floated in streams. You could pick it up with your hand. The news spread across the country. If you found gold, it was yours! Gold miners were making $30 a day. At that time, $30 was a lot of money. A farmer made $0.50 a day. A factory worker made $1 a day. A craftsman made $1.50 a day. People left their homes. They rushed to California. From the East, they came on a dirt trail. It was called the Oregon-California trail. It was a tough wagon ride. The trail was 3,000 miles long. The trip lasted from three to seven months. People didn't care. They had gold fever. They wanted to be rich. These people were called "forty-niners." Many people stayed in California. They didn't go back home. Cities grew. In 1856, San Francisco was the largest city in the West. It had 50,000 people.