Gold Rush

Gold Fever: Impoverished or Greedy, Islanders Sailed for California

Six ships sailed from the Vineyard to San Francisco between February and October 1849, carrying away more than 400 Island men to the gold mines of central California. Not long ago Ann Allen calculated that in Edgartown and Chilmark roughly one man in five between the ages of 18 and 50 set off for “the El Dorado of America”; in Tisbury it was closer to one in four. Many gathered - and died - in a settlement that came to be known as the Vineyard Camp on a southern bank of the Stanislaus River, two miles east of the town of Melones.