American River Canyon, Part 4 – Junction House to Riverton

Pacific House

Pacific House

Staying on the main route, the next station east of Junction House, so named because it is also near the junction of Johnson’s Cut-off, Ogilsby Grade and other roads, is Bob Blair’s House.

Bob Blair was one of four Blair brothers who emigrated to California from Scotland. The family owned and operated several lumber mills and lumber sales yards throughout the county. The first brother to leave Scotland for California, John Blair, was an early owner of Sportsman’s Hall.

Next along the road is Fresh Pond, or Fresh Pond House, a place where the Blair family had a mill and mill pond in 1911.

There is not a lot of early information about Fresh Pond. It is believed by some to be the “Fish Pond” that shows up in early emigrant journals. It is also believed that there was a natural pond at this location, before the Blair’s built one there around 1911.

The Fresh Pond school, originally built by the Blairs for the children of their mill workers, was here from 1911 through 1945.  In 1919, the building was torn down and replaced with the Sly Park School building that was moved here. Because the building came with its sign, after that it was called the Sly Park School.

A business of one sort or another has been at Fresh Pond since the 1860s, with a few voids due to fires.

In the 1930s Fresh Pond was known as Mealy’s Fresh Pond Tavern, featuring steak and chicken dinners and very popular dances on weekends.

The next station to the east of Fresh Pond is Pacific House.

Originally an inn on the emigrant trail, Pacific House was a relay station for the short-lived Pony Express in 1860-61. In 1864 one traveler reported it was a place one could get breakfast and also feed for the horses. At that time there was also a large stable of horses owned by the Pioneer Stage Company nearby.

On March 10, 1880, a Post Office called simply Pacific was established at this location with Adam Kessebring, Jr. as the first postmaster. On November 15, 1893, the Post Office would close, and then reopen again on September 15 of the next year. On June 1, 1958, the name of the Post Office was changed from Pacific to Pacific House, to avoid confusion with other places with Pacific in their name.

Just east of Pacific House, Johnson’s Cut-off and Brockliss (also spelled Brockless) Grade left what is now the main road and headed north and then east, crossing the river on Bartlett’s Bridge or Brockliss Bridge, respectively. Since this portion of Johnson’s Cut-off was short lived, due to the construction of Brockliss’ much better route, there are only a few records of historic stations along it. These include a mention of an inn at Atherton Flat, west of Barrett’s place, and a stopping place at Chimney Flat, just below Forni’s. On the other hand, Brockliss Grade had several stations of all sizes.

From Pacific House to just east of Kyburz, the stations along Brockliss Grade included: D. Yanbel, B. Brockliss, Peavine Ranch, Half Way House, Clark Gill & Company House, Silver Creek Ranch, Hiram Denny’s Trading Post, Daniel McEnlan, Scofield, E. H. Smith, Michael Tagg, G. M. Dunvall and John Hurlana.

The Brockliss Fountain House, with Mrs. E. Brockliss, proprietress, is believed to have been located at the station indicated as B. Brockliss.

An advertisement from April of 1860, announces the opening of Fountain House, twenty-three miles from Placerville, three miles from Brockliss Bridge and one mile beyond Pete’s Ranch. Mrs. Brockliss’ advertisement goes on to say that “I have hay, barley, good stables and stock corrals; plenty to eat and drink, good beds, also good rooms for families”

Backing up to Pacific House and then staying on what is now the main road, the next station east of Pacific House was the Esmeralda House, which was located at Esmeralda Canyon, near Bridal Veil Falls (variously spelled Bridle, Bridal, Vale, and Veil). Because of this, the falls were originally known as Esmeralda Falls, a name that probably should have been retained because of the proliferation of places known as Bridal Veil Falls.

The next station to the east was a hotel known as “Dirty Mikes,” followed by Moore’s Station, or just Moore’s, later to be know as Riverside Station and then Riverton.

    Sources for this story include: “History of California”, by Theodore Hittell (1897); “California Gold Camps”, by Erwin Gudde (1975); “California Place Names”, by Erwin Gudde, 3rd Edition (1974); “The Wrights Lake Story” by the Historical Committee of the Wrights Lake Summer Home Association (revised 1994); “The Saga of Lake Tahoe”, Volumes I and II, by E. B. Scott (1973); “History of California Post Offices, 1849-1976”, researched by H. E. Salley (1976); “Mother Lode of Learning – One Room Schools of El Dorado County” by the Retired Teachers Association of El Dorado County (1990); “I Remember…, Stories and pictures of El Dorado County pioneer families”, researched and written by Betty Yohalem (1977); “History of El Dorado County”, by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); the archives of the Mountain Democrat (1854-Present); and the wonderful people at the reference desk of the El Dorado County Main Library.

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