January 24, 1848. Coloma, California. In a saw mill belonging to Swiss pioneer John Sutter, James W. Marshall, a carpenter, finds pieces of shining metal in the stream next to the saw mill: it’s gold! Marshall shares his discovery with his boss, who decides to keep this news secret—a secret the two men are unable to keep. The news spreads like wildfire and is confirmed by a number of newspapers in March 1848. It’s the start of an unprecedented gold rush. Waves of immigrants from all over the world arrive in California, raising the population from 15,000 to several hundred thousand. The Indians are driven out, expropriated and decimated by disease. The first transcontinental railroad is built, and a Californian constitution is soon passed. Criminality also explodes: this is the beginning of the myth of the “Wild West” and its infamous outlaws. The Gold Rush will end several years later, but California and the American mentality will be changed by it forever.