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gambling houses, theatres, &c. The gambling and eating-houses were thronged, and appeared to be doing all the business of the town. Monte-banks were even opened under tents, the patrons standing up to their knees in mud. The Round Tent contained eight tables, each letting for eight dollars per day. These, together with the profits of the bar, paid Mr. Weeks, the proprietor, at least $100 per day—a fair income for a tent, particularly one in which a man needs an umbrella and a pair of India rubber boots. The rain did not dampen the ardor of the operators, but caused them to treat more frequently, which gave
them more ready access to their victims.
Here were gray-haired men commingling with boys in the game-profanity and dissipation—some of them having passed, perhaps, within the last twenty-four hours, from a competence to penury. A gloom seemed to pervade the countenance, revealing the reckless despondence that reigned within.
How truthfully were their feelings portrayed in the gloom of the surrounding elements. Here were young men, who, a few months previous, had left their friends and homes with vigorous constitutions, and characters unblemished, to seek their fortunes in this land of gold. A few short months had sufficed to accomplish the work of ruin. In an unguarded moment they were tempted from the path of rectitude; they visited the gaming-tables and halls of dissipation; and when the brief dream was over, they awoke and found ruin, like a demon, staring them in the face. They had neither means nor character, and their constitutions had been laid waste by the blighting hand of dissipation. Who can calculate the hours of anguish, or tears of blood that have been wrung from the hearts of bereaved parents and friends by that blighting curse.
Sacramento had become a large city (see Plate), and, next to San Francisco, the most important town in the State. It numbered at this time from twelve to fifteen thousand inhabitants. The town is regularly laid out, the streets running at right angles, many of which are closely built upon for the distance of a mile. The margin of the river is bold, and vessels of the largest class are moored to its banks. Some of them are used as stores, others as dwelling or boarding places. The steamer Senator runs up to the bank and puts out a gang-plank, which is all that is necessary for the accommodation of passengers The town at the time was submerged in mud, the streets almost impassable. Flour, pork, bread, &c., were piled up along the sides of the streets without protection. There were many surmises as to the probability of the city being flooded in case of freshet. It was said by the “oldest inhabitant" that the surrounding country, including the site of the town, had been flooded, so that canoes had been navigated as far as Sutter's Fort. Indications went to confirm his statement. There are gullies running through the town that have undoubtedly been caused by floods, and in the sequel, proved channels too small to relieve the city from inundation.
Many kinds of goods had become extremely scarce, and were selling at exorbitant prices. This was the case with woollen clothing, boots, and provisions. Common flannel shirts were selling at from $5 to $8 each; blankets at from $12 to $20 per pair; and ordinary boots from $20 to $32. Long boots of grained leather were held at, and selling for 6 ozs. ($96.) The interior, or mining regions, were entirely destitute, and merchants were in town from every point, trying to contract for the transportation of goods. Teamsters knew the country to be impassable, and although as high as $50, and even $100 per 100 lbs. was offered for a distance of fifty miles, no one would make the attempt. The consequence was, that miners were driven into town in many cases, to prevent starvation. Trade, during the latter part of the summer, and for the first one or two weeks of the rainy season, had been remarkably brisk in Sacramento City. The advance in prices of all the staple articles had enabled merchants to reap immense profits, and many, within a few weeks, had made fortunes.
The impetus to trade had come upon them unawares; some had leased their stores for short terms; others merely kept possession from day to day; but when this season of prosperity burst upon them, all were anxious to secure leases for the longest possible period. Thousands were eager to embark in trade, offering unparalleled rents—in many cases as high as $100 per day for a store. Long leases were granted at these exorbitant rents, and in consequence of the scarcity of tenements, lots were purchased—the prices predicated upon the above—buildings