Monday, March 27, 2006

Gold Rush Tour of San Francisco

Last week I received an unusual request for a tour. I was asked if I could provide a "Gold Rush Tour" to two visitors. My quick response was, "Sure." This was a chance to show off some sights that are not on my usual San Francisco Tour.

While gold was discovered by James Marshall on January 24, 1848 in Coloma, about 150 miles east of San Francisco, and the mining for gold took place in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, San Francisco was the port of entry for nearly all who came seeking their fortune.

A tour of San Francisco circa 1849 must start in today's Portsmouth Square in Chinatown. Portsmouth Square is the site of the plaza in the Mexican Village of Yuerba Buena. Captain John Montgomery captured the village of 300 people in 1846 for the United States and the following year the village changed its name to San Francisco. The square features a monument to the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson who came to northern California to ask the woman he loved to leave her abusive first husband and marry him.

Nearby is the Jackson Square antique district, home to the oldest surviving buildings in downtown San Francisco. Many of the buildings on Jackson and Pacific Streets between Montgomery and Sansome Streets were built in the 1850s and 1860s and survived destruction in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire three times. Here you can see the buildings where the Ghirardelli chocolate empire began and where William Tecumsah Sherman worked as a banker before rejoining the army and burning Atlanta during the Civil War.

Two nearby museums contain artifacts from the Gold Rush era. The Pacific Heritage Museum houses Asian art, but is on the site of San Francisco's first mint and subtreasury. The art is upstairs and the late 19th century artifacts are in the basement. The Wells Fargo Museum is on the site where the company was founded in 1852. Many Gold Rush era items, including a stage coach, are on display.

There are other Gold Rush era sights in San Francisco, including the Presidio and Mission Dolores. If you want to learn more about the Gold Rush in San Francisco, I would be pleased to customize a San Francisco Tour for you. To book a tour, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

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