Beaver Money

The “Beaver Money” coin designs, reprinted from John Horner’s 1919 Oregon history book.

If you’d been lucky enough to live in Portland in July of 1848, you would have been able to say, literally, that your ship had come in.

The ship in question was the sailing ship Honolulu. And, funny thing: she arrived in port in ballast, with her cargo holds empty.

That raised some eyebrows. At the time, Oregon was not even part of the U.S.A. yet — just a vast extranational territory jointly claimed by the U.S. and Britain. There was no national government authority to issue money, nor was there any gold or silver around to make money with.

Panning for Gold

A very old hand-tinted postcard shows three prospectors panning for gold.

Woodcut Illustration

A woodcut illustration of a man panning for gold on the Mokelumne River in 1860.


A block of postage stamps released in 1999 to commemorate the California Gold Rush.

Having a Drink

A woodcut image of a prospector having a drink, from an 1898 magazine article.


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