It should be noted that this series of articles is just a quick look at Green Valley Road. Much of this area is covered in greater depth in a recently released and fantastic book, “History of a Place Called Rescue,” by William C. Teie and Francis M. Carpenter. It can be purchased online at www.deervalleypress.com.
There were two distinct and separate east-west routes through the western part of El Dorado County during the early years of the Gold Rush. One was called the White Rock Road route and the other, Green Valley Road.
White Rock Road, the predecessor of Highway 50, was one of the major routes for the California immigrants traveling west by land. Many came over the Sierra Nevada and picked up the road in the Tahoe Basin, following it to Placerville and then, possibly to Sacramento and points west, north or south.
On the other hand, nearly all of the traffic that moved west to east (Sacramento to the mines) followed the other route – Green Valley Road (also known as the Overland Trail).
Green Valley Road was one of the earliest roads in El Dorado County. The first miners, those who arrived by ship or overland from Oregon and from towns along the coast of California, blazed this route to get to Mormon Bar, New York Creek, and, ultimately, Coloma only a few months after James Marshall picked up those first few flakes of gold.
As with other busy roads, there would soon be many places or stations along the road where a hungry or tired miner or teamster could find food, supplies or a place to rest for the night. Some of these places lasted only a short time and some went on to last a century or more. Therefore, not all of them may have existed at the same time.
Just east of Folsom and the Sacramento – El Dorado County line was the first of such stations in El Dorado County, the Leachman House, also known as the Kentucky House. It stood on the south side of the road at the junction with a road that led south to Clarksville (on the old Highway 50). It is named after an early pioneer from Kentucky, Austin Taylor Leachman, who arrived in California by wagon in 1850, married a young Irish lady named Mary Sullivan in 1859, and purchased a 220 acre farm and buildings near Brown’s Ravine. There, they established the Leachman House, and successfully operated it as long as the stages and freighters traveled the road.
Austin Leachman would go on to serve two terms as an El Dorado County Supervisor and unsuccessfully run for the State Assembly in 1866. The Leachman house would be operated as late as 1867 by Frank Cirby, Leachman’s son-in law.
East of the Leachman House, and grouped closely together, were the Rolling Hill House, Kaufman’s Deadfall House, New York House and a place referred to as only a “log cabin.”
The Rolling Hill House was on the north side of the road about halfway up Rolling Hill (the rise from Folsom to El Dorado Hills). It was a large two-story frame building owned by Charles Post. Post later sold it to Wendel Leike who sold it to Jacob Hyman. Across the street was “Doc” Ebenezer Fairchild’s blacksmith shop.
Little is known about Kaufman’s Deadfall House, or saloon, other than it was once owned by James K. Page. However, the New York House, which was on the south side of the road near New York Creek, has much more history.
Constantine Hicks, a carpenter from Vermont, owned the New York House and was a real character of the era and someone you may or may not have wanted to meet. Involved in the failed 1856 election fraud that attempted to keep the County Seat in Coloma, he went on to try and claim squatter’s rights on the section of land (640 acres) around the New York House. The Central Pacific Railroad successfully defeated his attempt in court.
His daughter, a story goes, fell in love with a hired hand and eloped. Hicks and a group of friends overtook them at the Rolling Hill House, where Hicks horsewhipped her lover to death. It is said he took the man’s body back to the New York House and buried him on a hill across the road.
In 1880 the New York House was purchased by Jeptha Wilson and later by Royal Ray Campbell. It burned down and was replaced by another building, built on its foundation.
A major source for this article is a book called “The Early Inns of California 1844-1869,” by Ralph Herbert Cross. Copies can be found in the rare book section of the El Dorado County main library.