Blacksmith shapes history |

Blacksmith shapes history

Levi Fifield was John Sutter’s blacksmith, who built James Marshall’s mill-irons in 1848 two weeks before the gold discovery on Jan. 24, 1848, at Coloma. Levi had come to work at Sutter’s Fort the year before, along with other Mormon Battalion soldiers. Sutter’s diary reveals that Levi accomplished “the heaviest kind of blacksmith work which has ever been done here,” and gives him “great credit as a good workman.”

When Levi’s work was delivered to the Coloma sawmill, the water channel had to be deepened. When James Marshall spotted golden flakes Monday morning, Jan. 24, 1848, a new era in the history of California and the world began. Without Levi’s blacksmithing skills, that first gold would have remained at the bottom of the American River.

Wayne Dixon


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