During the Gold Rush Era people headed west with hopes of striking it rich based on stories published in newspapers. However most of these stories were nothing more than tall tales. In the end it was the merchants and small entrepreneurs that struck it rich off of the miners in need of supplies and food.
"Mechanics, lawyers and doctors have left for the gold region. Soldiers run from their camps,sailors from their decks, and women from their nuseries; cradles answer for machines to wash out gold... I know a little boy only twelve years of age who washes out his ounce of gold a day, while his mother makes root beer and sells it at a dollar a bottle."
-From a letter published in the Daily Union (Washington D.C.) newspaper September 22, 1848