1850 - 1908
During the 1850s, gold was discovered in a number of locations around British Columbia. By 1858, thousands of people traveled along the Fraser River searching for gold. Significant finds in 1859 and 1860 started the Cariboo Gold Rush and, by 1863, almost $4,000,000 in gold had been found in the creeks of west central British Columbia, just southeast of Prince George.
In 1862, the Overlanders traveled via the Yellowhead route to reach the Cariboo Goldfields. There were four groups that left Fort Garry, the first being the McMicking party. The Symington and Redgrave parties are said to have made the journey as well, but with much greater difficulty. Disaster befell the Rennie party as they left too late in the season and were overcome by harsh winter conditions.
A decade later, gold was discovered northwest of Mackenzie in the Omineca District. While the Omineca Gold Rush of 1870┐1871 was minor in comparison to the Cariboo Gold Rush, the settlements of Germansen Landing and Manson Creek were formed from the hundreds of Omineca prospectors that made the difficult journey.
About the same time the `Enterprise┐ sternwheeler traveled up the Nechako River in search of gold. It made its way as far as Trembleur Lake, north of Fort St. James, but it was abandoned for a more direct route to the goldfields.
With rumours of a railway being constructed from Winnipeg to the mouth of the Skeena River, land speculators began to purchase land along the proposed routes. In 1903, the Dominion Government announced the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Large tracts of land were purchased around Fort George where people thought the railway would cross the Fraser River. The Grand Trunk acquired Indian Reserve No.1 from the Dominion Government on which to build the station and facilities for the railway. This is the present day site of downtown Prince George.