The Forty-Niners

Words and Music by Laurie Draper and Alan Billingsley

For the past 150 years, the near-mythic Forty-Niner has dominated gold rush history. Any schoolchild can conjure the image: boots, red flannel shirt, slouch hat, a pick balanced on his shoulder, a pan dangling from his mule’s pack. The discovery of gold in California was an epoch-making event. News of the discovery attracted hundreds of thousands of gold-seekers from across the country and around the world. Their coming transformed not only the economic history of California but also much of its social, cultural, and political history as well. Although there were many gold rushes in world history, the California gold rush was a unique event. Unlike other places, the gold in California was plentiful and easy to get — at least at first. As brave men and women ventured to California in search of fortune, they awakened America to the idea of high-risk entrepreneurialism.

This remarkable story comes to life in “The Forty-Niners,” as two students take a journey back in time to meet “Ma” (Mother Lode) and the “Miners.” They introduce the students to the mining town at Sutter’s Mill. The journey takes us from the westward trail to the successful businesses formed by the famous entrepreneurs of the time. The “Forty-Niners” teaches students’ the importance of protecting the environment and the value of friendship and cultural diversity! The musical contains six original musical numbers as well as an entertaining and factual script. Enjoy the journey westward along with “The Forty-Niners!”

Original 49ers

National Education Standards




Our Current Production

Trading Holidays
Performance Dates: Deceber 8th & 10th
9:00 am & 7:00 pm
Performing Arts Center
2617 Bell Avenue • Manhattan Beach


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