In 1848 gold was discovered in California. Word soon spread eastward and by 1849 America’s first gold stampede was on. The 49ers, as they were called, were not seasoned miners but poor immigrants and farmers who were looking to find a quick way out of poverty. By 1860 over $595 million in gold had been taken out of the California hills, almost all of which went directly into the hands of the hard-rock miners. The gold that the placer miners worked so hard to pry out of river beds and outcroppings only told the hard-rock miners where to dig their tunnels. The placer miners, having left their hard earned gold in the hands of saloon owners, prostitutes and gamblers, either had to work for wages or look for other gold fields to try their luck.
Consequently there was slow eastern migration of experienced miners looking for gold in the hills and streams of Nevada, Montana, Colorado, and eventually, the Dakota Territories. - places they had passed in their haste to reach the gold fields in California.