History in Context
The 1880 U. S. Census found 75,132 Chinese living in California ‒ 8.7% of the total population of the state at that time.
Coming to "Gold Mountain"
The first Chinese who came to California called the region Gum Saan, or "Gold Mountain". The name originally referred to the gold mines found in the Sierra Nevadas, but over time the meaning expanded beyond referring to gold to referring to general prosperity. By the last half of the 19th century Gum Saan became a generic term used by Chinese both here and in their country to refer to western North America.
Note: Locations on this map are approximate. Some of the distances between cities have been exaggerated in order to prevent overlapping names. Click on a place name to learn about what happened there.