Street Scene in La Rancherie, California
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Carleton E. Watkins, Robert H. Vance
American, La Rancherie, California, 1853 - 1855
Hand-colored daguerreotype
3 1/4 x 4 1/2 in.

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The mining camp of La Rancherie was located near the fabled Sutter's Mill in California, where gold was discovered in 1849. In the volatile gold-rush environment of prospectors, get-rich-quick dreams, and fly-by-night towns, an assembly of men in the foreground stood for the camera to immortalize their roles in the historical moment. La Rancherie stood out for its stability: it could boast a few buildings made of clapboard and some that were even painted. The illustrated hotel sign at upper left indicates a clientele that was not entirely literate and might rely on pictures to identify potential lodgings.