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7.1.1 California Satellite View, The National Atlas of the United States of America,

Page 10.

California Geographic Alliance, California: A Changing State: An Atlas for California Students. Humboldt State University, 2011.

There are two major reasons why San Francisco became a site of encounter in 1848. Both of them relate to geography. The first is the location of the city just inside San Francisco Bay, a large bay where ships could shelter from the storms of the Pacific Ocean. The city, first called Yerba Buena, was founded in 1835. While the town only had about 800 people living in it before the discovery of gold, the port was important for ships that traveled across the Pacific to trade with China. The second reason was that on January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall found flakes of gold in the American River in Coloma, a town in the Sierra Nevada foothills that is approximately 50 miles east of present-day Sacramento. When thousands of fortune seekers heard about the news and rushed to California to try their luck, Yerba Buena, renamed San Francisco, was the closest and most convenient port to the gold fields.

In 1835, while California was governed by Mexico, an Englishman named William Anthony Richardson founded a little town called Yerba Buena. In 1846, during the Mexican–American War, a US warship sailed into the bay and took over the town for the United States. It was one of several ports at which ships could load cattle hides and tallow, exports from California. Before gold was discovered in 1848, there were approximately 800 people in the town. They were Mexican, Californio, Native American, European, Chinese, African American, and Hawaiian. Not far from Yerba Buena, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, James W. Marshall found flakes of gold in a streambed while building a water-powered sawmill for John Sutter. News of the discovery soon spread, and thousands of fortune seekers from all around California, the eastern states, South America, China, Australia, and Hawaii rushed to the Sierra. When traveling to the gold mines from outside of California, the fastest way was to sail to Yerba Buena, now renamed San Francisco — making that port a fast-growing transit and supply point for the miners.
Where We Are



In 1972, Landsat began transmitting views of our planet back to Earth. The fist Landsat and its five successors (two of them are in operation now) have delivered millions of images from a satellite orbiting 438 miles above the Earth. Landsats' orbit enables a new image to be recorded every sixteen days of any area on the Earth's surface. The satellite view on this map was created from a mosaic of many Landsat images joined together. Colors were selected to better show variations in the landscape. Relief shading was added to enhance the terrain and make the landforms of each state more apparent.

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

The National Atlas of the United States of America