“If I told you that Studebaker and Folger’s Coffee and Macy’s and the Irvine Company could all trace major success to the Gold Rush, you probably wouldn’t believe it,” noted Craig MacDonald, journalist, historian and raconteur.
He then proceeded to tell us the fascinating history behind the Great California Gold Rush that we’d never heard. How Mr. Studebaker built the wheelbarrows used by miners; and James Irvine made a fortune selling food and wool to residents and miners, then moved his sheep herd to a little old patch of land in Southern California.
The list went on and on: Leland Stanford, broke after a fire destroyed his law practice, migrated West with his five brothers to run a general store in Placer County; and R.H. Macy, after several failed retail enterprises in the East, headed West, making a fortune by selling shirts in Marysville, then taking the money back to try his hand at retail one more time in Manhattan.
“The California Spirit was born during the Gold Rush and has never left us,” Craig noted. Many Rotarians purchased his books on the subject and he promised to return with more stories next year.