what a time to be alive

“Between 7 December 1848, and 20 January 1849, ninety-nine windships sailed from United States ports alone for California; and from October 1849 to October 1850, 70,000 gold-hungry emigrants reached San Francisco, mainly by sea. Sacramento which, in April 1849, had four houses, in little more than twelve months blossomed into a well-built town of 70,000 inhabitants.

On New York’s waterfront, in Salem, Boston and elsewhere right along the Eastern seaboard craftsmen swarmed like ants over vast supplies of white pine and spruce, white oak and fir as it came out of sawmills; and in a hundred or more lofty sailmaker’s works men cut, gored and sewed huge banks of canvas. Ship designers, ship-chandlers, rope makers, merchants and brokers got together to talk things over and agree plans.”

Warren Armstrong – Square-Rigger Days (1964)

(What a time to be a sailor or in the supporting maritime trades! Of the estimated 300,000 people who came to California in the gold rush between 1848 and 1855 around half arrived by sea. Most of those “Argonauts”, as they were called, made the long, perilous passage from the East Coast.)