News & Tall Tales. 1800s.

To California Gold.

A Very Tall Tale

Truth or Fiction? Printed in the Boston Herald, 1849

We all know that newspapers don't always print "news," but it's a stretch to think that an esteemed newspaper such as the Boston Herald would have printed the following other than tongue in cheek.

The editors of the Alta California were also undoubtedly amused by the "news" in the Boston Heraldas they reprinted it in their own paper.

Thursday, July 12, 1849, Alta California, San Francisco

The gold fever besets the Press, as well as the Public. All the newspaper columns glitter with "Gold," "Gold," "Gold."

The Boston Herald (and no other paper has the news) thus discourses upon the brilliant shining theme:

"Highly important from California! -- 
Great excitement among the people! --
Gold region inexhaustible!!!--
A new people, and a gold forest!!!!

"By the arrival of the bark Ariel, Capt. Tudacher, we are placed in possession of despatches from California to the very latest date, and a little later. The Ariel sailed from Provincetown on a whaling voyage, but has returned with a cargo of gold dust, valued at $7,500,000, besides a quantity of hides and tallow.

"When Capt. Tudacher left San Francisco, the people were returning from the gold washings. "The excitement was tremendous. "Not finding vacant storehouses in which to place the precious metal, the people were piling it up in the public streets, as tom-cods used to be of yore, in the streets of Watertown, Mass. barricades erected of solid ingots of gold actually impeded the travel.

"Iron had become scarce, and nails and bolts, manufactured out of pure gold, were in common use. "Several whale ships, their bottoms having been scraped in crossing the bar of the harbor, had been refitted with gold sheathing, in place of copper.

"A railroad from San Francisco to the washings was already begun, the rails of which were fabricated out of the purest gold. (Some fears were entertained by Gov. Mason, that they would not prove of sufficient strength.)

"A golden gridiron is among the most common articles of domestic economy.

"The California buffaloes are killed with golden bullets cast in golden moulds (with a trifling alloy), the California ducks and pigeons are brought down with golden hail shot. A foundry of golden cannon balls is about to be established.

"The stories in circulation in the United States respecting the extent of the gold region, are not a circumstance to the real state of the case. Captain Tudacher informs us (and his word is as good as any of the Tudachers on Cape Cod), that a Gold Forest and a new race of beings had actually been discovered. This marvelous forest lies due east from Ciudad de los Angeles about seven hundred miles, in a district of country which has hitherto been considered impassable by travellers, and consequently unexplored.

"This golden forest has been ascertained to comprise a region of two hundred and forty miles square; the people are extraordinary specimens of humanity. The riches of this district cannot be conceived by the wildest imagination. They are really incredible. -- The El Dorado of Sir Walter Raleigh was a fool to it. Diamond mines whose depths have never been discovered exist in abundance. They are said to undermine the golden forest, and to be far more extensive than the coal mines of Pictou, and are so brilliant that the whole country is illuminated at night as if by millions of Drummond lights.

"The buildings in this extraordinary country are large and massive, (none less in size than the Tremont House in Boston, of a conical shape, and built of solid gold, cemented by diamonds, (paste probably). The trees of this forest average about a hundred feet in belt -- all solid gold! Their height is enormous -- They are felled by means of a sort of triangular saw, with diamond teeth, worn to a sharp edge. A single tooth of this instrument would be considered a princely fortune in Europe or the United States.

"The people have a language of their own; but all that could be comprehended relative to their origin was, that they were "Children of Gas." In the vernacular of the natives, their country is called "Aurifera." The ladies are of an amorous complexion, and extremely partial to red hair; an additional inducement to young men to emigrate thither. The boys play at taw with huge diamonds instead of marbles -- one of which would pay the whole expense of the introduction of Cochituate water into Boston, and leave a sufficient surplus to build a gold fence around the Common.

"We could scarcely believe the above accounts, were they not substantiated by the crew of Capt. Tudacher. And that gentleman himself being one whose veracity we never yet questioned, contributes to strengthen us in the opinion that his statements, astounding as they are, are really true and correct.

"P.S. Capt. Tudacher says that, while in Aurifera, he saw a criminal executed for stealing a tenpenny nail, who was stuffed to death with diamonds, administered with a golden ladle as large as a kettle drum!"

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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