church history, mormon studies, latter-day saints, gold-rush


The California gold rush, the first international gold rush in history, turned the world upside down, reaching its zenith in the years 1849-50. As a result of the rush during these two climactic years, the population swelled our nation's Pacific coast, entitling California to receive statehood in the fall of 1850. During these catalytic years, Latter-day Saints were journeying to the American West for a different kind of treasure. They gathered from afar to their Mormon mecca nestled in the Salt Lake Valley to fulfill their dreams of establishing Zion. Yet the California gold rush had a significant impact on the Latter-day Saint economy as thousands of Agronauts passed through Salt Lake in need of provisions. As a result, the Saints became able to further stimulate immigration from abroad, swelling the Mormon population in the West. Subsequently, with the aid of the Compromise of 1850, on the same day California received her statehood (9 September 1850), Utah was granted official status as a territory in the United States. The story behind these parallel gatherings certainly deserves sesquicentennial recognition.

Original Publication Citation

Fred E. Woods, "More Precious than Gold: The Journey to and through Zion in 1849-1850," Nauvoo Journal 11, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 109-24

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Nauvoo Journal




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine