When the gold rush commenced in 1848 California's native population was approximately 110,000. There were also some 7,000 persons of Mexican and Spanish descent, 700 Americans, and 200 Europeans.1 In 1850, a year after California's admission to the United States and with the gold rush in full bloom, the first state census put California's white population at 92,597. The native population had decreased to about 30,000 as a result of disease, starvation, and murder.
At the heart of the Mother Lode, El Dorado County experienced its own population boom to bust as a result of the gold rush. In 1850 over one fifth of the state's white population lived in the county. A decade later the state's population had grown to almost 380,000 while that of El Dorado County was virtually unchanged. The rush to the golden county of the golden state was over just a decade after it started. As the table at right suggests the county's population declined during the remainder of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth reaching a low of 6,426 in 1920 before it began to grow again.
El Dorado County's changing demographics over the last 50 years are the focus of the activities below.