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A participant in the California [[GoldFever Gold Rush]] of 1848-1855.

When gold was discovered near Sutter's Mill, California in 1848, it brought a huge influx of people to the area, at first those already living in California and the surrounding areas, but when the story broke in the East Coast newspapers, from all over the world. UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco, the nearest port, became a BoomTown (after nearly becoming a GhostTown when the denizens all flocked to the gold fields -- San Francisco's population very briefly fell to just 250 at its lowest point before arrivals from the east came through. An editor even bemoaned the impending death of the namesake city in one editorial -- [[HypocriticalHumor it was his last article before leaving town to find gold]].)

They became known as "'49ers" from the year when the biggest crop of would-be miners arrived. At first, finding gold was easy, and the miners prospered. But as the most obvious sites played out, mining required more and better-skilled effort, and competition grew for the best claims. By 1855, only large mining companies were still viable, and the Rush was over. Most of the Forty-Niners went on to other professions in the newly-booming states; a few stubbornly stayed in the prospecting business, moving from site to site in hopes of striking it rich elsewhere.

This character type includes those who moved to California to take advantage of the gold miners, but did not themselves mine the ground. For other people searching for valuable minerals, see {{Prospector}}. For the San Francisco sports team that takes its name from these miners, see UsefulNotes/NationalFootballLeague.


* ''Film/PaintYourWagon'' (1969 musical)
* ''[[http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0122072 The Forty-Niners]]'' (1954)
* ''[[http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0001696 In the Days of '49]]'' (1911)
* ''[[http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0049540 The Naked Hills]]'' (1956)

[[folder: Live-Action TV]]
* When [[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration Data]] gets sent back in time to San Francisco, 1896, he meets an old street beggar who had come out in the gold rush.

* The song ''My Darling Clementine''.
* "Days Of '49", recorded by Music/BobDylan and others.

* Thanks to the discovery of Ghost Rock several decades earlier, the gold rush was supplanted in ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}''.

* ''Theatre/PaintYourWagon'' (1951 musical)

* ''Compass Point: West'', a combination strategy and collectible-card game set in the American Old West (according to one review, it's basically ''VideoGame/ClashOfClans'' meets ''Hearthstone''), has a character called the Forty Niner, portrayed as a crazy, dynamite-obsessed old man. He tosses dynamite at his targets.
* The Sierra adventure game ''GoldRush'' chronicles the journey of one Brooklyn resident as he becomes a Forty Niner (technically, he can arrive in California in late 1848, but he still fits the trope).
* In ''VideoGame/OregonTrail'' you can choose to go to San Francisco if you leave in the correct years, and once you get there you can choose to pan for gold instead of getting a plot of land.

* "The Miner Forty-Niner", a ghostly miner, was one of the villains on ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooWhereAreYou''.
* A WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes episode where Elmer Fudd travelled west to seek his fortune in gold. Unfortunately for him, he ran into Bugs Bunny on the way. (This was an early Elmer Fudd cartoon, when he was still ridiculously fat.)
** The Early WesternAnimation/PorkyPig cartoon "WesternAnimation/GoldDiggersOf49". (The title references ''Film/GoldDiggersOf1933'' and its sequels, which are about the ''other'' kind of GoldDigger.)