In El Dorado County there were, at one time or another, over 100 post offices with some 120 different names. Some had a short life and some apparently never even existed at all, although history books make reference to them. The latter were appropriately called phantom post offices. Many others, once established, continue to operate until this day.
EL DORADO HILLS: The post office at this real estate development was established on Sept. 16, 1962 as an independent rural station of the Folsom Post Office. As the population in the area increased, in 1966 it was upgraded to a branch of the Folsom Post Office and later received its own zip code. Around 1997 a new facility was built on Post street to served this growing area.
EL DORADO MILLS: This post office was established on May 6, 1891 at an unknown location, according to the Post Office Department archives. The postmaster refused the appointment and the post office was discontinued on Sept. 29, of the same year.
EL DORADO RANCH: This was the original name for the post office located eight miles west of the townsite of El Dorado and eight miles east of Clarksville. It was established on June 19, 1857, with Lyman A. Hoyt serving as the first postmaster. This post office was discontinued on Sept. 14, 1858, when its name was changed to DuRoc.
Service at the DuRoc, later Duroc and then Durock, Post Office, where Theron Foster was the first postmaster, was discontinued on Nov. 23, 1864. Service at the nearby Shingle Spring Post Office had been discontinued on Mar. 30, 1855, but it would be reestablished on October 10, 1865, with an “s” added to spring, and serve this area.
EMERALD BAY: This Lake Tahoe post office was named for the nearby bay in the lake and was established on Dec. 17, 1888 with Lucy N. Kirby as its first postmaster. On Aug. 28, 1899, it was moved one mile to the northeast, to a location reported as being seventeen miles south of Tahoe City. On Feb. 28, 1959, service at this post office was discontinued and the mail moved to the summer post office at Homewood, in Placer County.
FAIR PLAY: This post office was established on Apr. 13, 1860, with George Merkindollar as its first postmaster. The post office derived its name from the rule of conduct of the miners who founded the town itself. Located eight miles south of Pleasant Valley and seven miles west of Mendon (also known as Brownsville), according to the archives of the Post Office Department, it was active until Feb. 15, 1944, when the mail was moved several miles north to the post office at Young’s.
The Young’s Post Office was located one mile north of Somerset at a vacation resort on the North Fork of the Cosumnes River owned by Morgan W. Young. It was established on Mar. 7, 1924, with Morgan W. Young as postmaster, and discontinued some time later when it was moved one mile south to Somerset. On August 1, 1950 it was renamed Somerset Post Office.
Aimee Hicks was appointed the first postmaster of the Somerset Post Office. It is still an operating post office.
FALLEN LEAF: Named for the lake by that name, which resembles a leaf which has fallen to the ground, this summer post office was established on May 13, 1908 to serve a vacation and recreational community, which has since become a year-round, residential area in the Lake Tahoe basin. William W. Price was the first postmaster. On May 19, 1967, it was changed to a rural branch of the South Lake Tahoe Post Office.
FIDDLETOWN: This post office, at an 1849 mining camp, was established on Dec. 13, 1853 with Dennis Townsend as its first postmaster.
The name, which is memorialized in Bret Harte’s “An Episode of Fiddletown”, came from the founding Missouri miners who were addicted to fiddling.
Located six and one-half miles northeast of the City of Plymouth, it became a part of the new county of Amador when the boundary was moved from Dry Creek to the South Fork of the Cosumnes River in 1854, a fact that the Post Office Department did not find out about until Feb. 6, 1864.
On May 24, 1878 the name of the post office was changed to Oleta, and then changed back to Fiddletown on July 1, 1932. It is still an operating post office.
Sources for this story include, “History of California Post Offices, 1849-1976”, researched by H. E. Salley (1976); “The Gold Rush Mail Agents to California and Their Postal Markings”, by Theron Wierenga” (1987); “California Town Postmarks, 1849-1935”, by John H. Williams (1997); “Short Stories Regarding The History of South El Dorado County”, by D. A. Wright (undated); the “History of El Dorado County”, by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); and the archives of the Mountain Democrat, Empire County Argus and Placer Times (on microfilm at the El Dorado County Main Library).