Coming by Sea

Men and women who travelled to California by boat were called "Argonauts." This name came from the Greek mythology in which Jason and his ship "Argo" searched for the Golden Fleece.

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There were two water main routes to California. A 17,000 mile route around the South America and Cape Horn took 5 to 7 months. Travellers had to deal with fierce storms, and lots of sickness due poor living conditions and limited fruit and vegetables causing scurvy.

The second route was by steamship via Panama. This route was much quicker, but very expensive. These ships also had very crowded living quarters and lots of sickness.

At one time there were more than 500 ships in the San Francisco harbor. Most were abandoned, and left to decay, by crews headed in search of gold.

Many people arriving by sea expected to find gold right off the boat. They didn't know that the gold was 150 miles inland. They had spent all their money and were very tired and hungry upon reaching San Francisco. Many were not prepared for this extra part of the journey.


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