Fourth Grade Rushes for Gold

Brian Houl and Sean Dang

On February  19, 2019, the McPherson Magnet School fourth graders went on a field trip to a reenactment gold mine at Irvine Park Railroad. There they learned about how people came to California in 1849 through the early 1850s to find gold and become rich.

The fourth graders at McPherson are learning about California history so the field trip can give them more insight into the subject of the California Gold Rush which began when workers at Sutter’s Mill in Northern California found gold. Word soon spread across America and the world and everyone wanted to go to California for a possible chance to get rich. At Irvine Park Railroad which is made to look like an early 1850’s California town, the fourth graders were separated into groups named after California Gold Rush terms and toured the entire reenactment town complete with buildings that they could go inside, a gold mine, a small train, and a place where they could see how people in the California Gold Rush found gold in water. The people at Irvine Park Railroad were dressed like people were during the Gold Rush and demonstrated how people during the Gold Rush lived their lives in California.  

We interviewed a few fourth graders and asked them what they at Irvine Park Railroad. Rodrigo Duarte said, “We learned that they used birds to see if there was gas that they could die from and if the bird was still alive than they could go down and mine for gold, but if the bird was dead they would have to leave.”

Rain Connell said, “We learned how to set up campfires and how they mined for gold in the river.” Our next question was what was one activity you did at Irvine Park Railroad. She said, “We went in the water and there was a little pipe and we got to put pans in it and rock it for gold.” 

Luke Houch said, “I first learned how they traveled by so they used covered wagons and they had all the stuff they stored. They had dolls, cattle shoes, and they had water and I learned about how they took the railroads to get to places and after that we did this gold rocker thing and we panned for gold and then we put them in a square box where you put it down and it goes through rails and it spreads to more gold.”

The fourth graders surely learned a lot about the California Gold Rush from this field trip.