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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Trails to Utah and the Pacific

[Detail] Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, ca. 1890's

Board Game: Gold Rush

Readers of the collection can test and demonstrate their comprehension of the gold rush by creating a gold rush board game. Create a game in which players compete with each other as prospectors who must make the cross-country journey to California and acquire gold.

Demonstrate your knowledge of the California Trail in your design of the board, using the spaces on the board to represent important landmarks on the trail. For help, refer to the special presentation "Chasing a Golden Dream: The Story of the California Trail (external link)," and Interactive Maps (external link), as well as the heading "California National Historic Trail" in the Trail Name Index. .

  • What will you choose for the starting point of the journey and the first space on the board?
  • What were the major landmarks on the California Trail?

Players' progress might be determined by rolling dice or by drawing cards that dictate certain events. For example, a card may say that a player's oxen died and must go back two spaces. Another card might say that a player received a free meal from a Mormon settler and can advance a space.

  • What other sorts of things happened to prospectors to set them back or help them out on their journeys to California?
  • What determined a prospector's success or failure once he reached California? How can you represent this in your game?
  • Use these ideas as a starting point to create your own game that represents your understanding and appreciation of the gold rush experience.
  • Do you think that the gold rush is a good topic for a board game? Why or why not?
  • What else might be a good topic?