Monthly Archives: March 2014

Steppin’ Out – Hog Wild Bar-B-Que & Catering

hogwild-snowy-512x288Aaron and Jamie Evans are the new owners of Hog Wild Bar-B-Que and Catering, which is located at 38 Main Street in Placerville.

Aaron, a native born Texas boy, met Jamie, a native born California girl from Placerville, back in 2000. They were married in South Lake Tahoe in 2002 and began their life together in Texas.

For 16 years, Aaron was a key player for one of the largest catering outfits in the southwest United States, Eddie Deen & Company.  He has been a part of two Presidential Inaugural Balls in Washington DC, the Dallas Cattle Baron’s Ball (which is the largest one night fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in the United States) and many more high-profile events around the country.

While at Eddie Deen’s, Aaron learned the art of freshly smoked meats, tasty side dishes prepared from scratch, homemade yeast rolls and, of course, Southern Hospitality.

Jamie was an instrumental part of the new home construction industry for 10 years in the Dallas – Fort Worth area.

Jamie is no stranger to hospitality, either, having grown up helping in her mom and dad’s candy store as well as alongside Aaron at Eddie Deen & Company.

Now, they are making a home, here in Placerville, for their family of 4 wonderful boys, and bringing a little taste of Texas barbecue back to Jamie’s hometown and the area.

My friend Russ Salazar and I had lunch at Hog Wild several years ago, when he was interviewing me for a presentation he wanted me to give for the Sirs (Sons in Retirement) group in Pollock Pines. We thought it would be a good idea to stop by and try out the new recipes that the new owners were using, so a couple of weeks ago we did just that.

It was a little after 11:30 a.m. on a Thursday (we meet for lunch early on days I have my yoga class) when Salazar and I walked into Hog Wild. It was busy, but we found a table and sat down. Our smiling server came over and put two plastic glasses on the table, pointing us to the soda machine, which had of all things, RC, Royal Crown Cola. I haven’t seen that in a long time.

We almost always order a couple of different things and then split them, so we can share comments. I thought about the Smokehouse Burger, Wild Style – topped with pulled pork, but decided I would stick to our usual and ordered a sliced brisket sandwich, cut in two, with a side of “Ranchero Pinto Beans.”

Salazar thought for a while and then ordered a half rack (six ribs) of baby back ribs, probably the best deal on the menu at $13.95. For a side he chose their  “Chopped Cole Slaw”

The brisket sandwich, which came on a homemade wheat bun with sauce, pickles and onions, was delicious. They put one-third pound of nicely smoked meat on their sandwiches and the Eddie Deen’s Bar-B-Que sauce they serve really added to it. I also tried their hot bar-b-que sauce, which had a nice bite to it. The beans were likewise good, and full of flavor.

The ribs had a smoke ring that went almost to the bone, which meant they were smoked for many hours. We both agreed they were nicely smoked, moist and excellent.

I don’t know why, but even though they were tender from all that time in the smoker (check out their huge smoker at the side of the building) they didn’t easily pull off the bone, something I look for.

The cole slaw, we both decided, was….cole slaw. We have had better, we have had worse, much worse.

We decided against dessert, but I took a long look at that Chocolate Fudge Pecan Pie.

Their menu includes sandwiches, plates and family style meals made from a choice of tender beef brisket (sliced or chopped), spicy sausage links, pulled pork, baby back ribs, spare ribs or smoked chicken breast.

As a warning, their meats are slow smoked and when they are gone, they are gone (even as early as we got there, they were out of their regular spare ribs).

Sides include homemade potato salad, chopped cole slaw, sauteed green beans, a small house salad, Ranchero pinto beans, Campfire potato wedges, mashed potatoes with gravy and sweet cornbread with honey butter.

They also have vegetarian and light items, along with a children’s menu.

We stuck with the soda, but beer and wine are also available.

Hog Wild Bar-B-Que is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11a.m. until 8 p.m., closed on Mondays (Open for Labor and Memorial Day). They can be reached at (530) 622-3883.

You can check out their webpage at http://www.hogwildbar-b-que.com and visit them on Facebook. Their menu, pictures of the building and patio and catered events are there.

Post Offices of El Dorado County, Part 8 – “G” – “H”

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.

GREEN SPRINGS: This post office, believed to be named for the lush green growth around the local spring, was established prior to July 28, 1851, the date the first postmaster, James C. Parks, was confirmed in Washington, D.C.
Located on Weber Creek, eight miles southwest of Coloma and fifteen miles northeast of Mormon Island, the town was an important way station on the road to Coloma. Service at the Green Springs Post Office was discontinued on January 21, 1852 and the mail moved to the Mormon Island Post Office in Sacramento County.

Green ValleyGREEN VALLEY: This early post office was located on the Green Valley Ranch, a supply center for the local mines and also on the main route from Sacramento to Coloma, seven miles southeast of Salmon Falls and ten miles south of Lotus. Nelson Van Tassel was named the first postmaster when the post office opened on Feb. 4, 1854.

On Mar. 30, 1855, this still young post office was discontinued, probably because of downturn in mining. On Sep. 12, 1865 the Green Valley Post Office was reestablished by renaming the Hitchcock Ranch Post Office, which was located on the Hitchcock Ranch, a short distance away from the Green Valley Ranch. On Dec. 12, 1908, the post office was moved one and one-half miles to the east. Then, on Oct. 14, 1911, it was discontinued and the mail moved to the post office in Rescue.

Greenwood postmark by Alta Express

Greenwood postmark by Alta Express

GREENWOOD: The Greenwood Post Office was originally the Louisville Post Office, which was established prior to July 28, 1851, the date when the first postmaster, George C. Blodgett, was confirmed by Washington, D.C.

The name, Louisville, had been given to this 1848 mining town, thirteen miles east of Auburn, by the miners working here, who were from the city by that name. On Oct. 9, 1852, just a short time after being established, the Louisville Post Office was moved and its name changed to Greenwood.

The Greenwood Post Office, like the town, was named for Caleb Greenwood and his two sons, Britain and John, who had established an early trading post at this location. C. C. Brady was the first postmaster at Greenwood. The Greenwood Post Office is still in operation.

Grizzly flat 2GRIZZLY FLATS: This post office was established on Aug. 31, 1855 and took its colorful name from a legend of an encounter between an early prospector’s pack mule and a California Grizzly Bear on a flat area eleven miles east of Somerset. James Burgess was named to serve as the first postmaster.

Although the post office is officially named Grizzly Flats, the town more often shows up on early maps as Grizzly Flat, without the added “s”. Unlike the California Grizzly Bear, which is now extinct, the post office is still in operation.

HITCHCOCK RANCH: This post office was established on Oct.9, 1860, with William Dormody serving as its first postmaster. The Hitchcock Ranch was settled in 1848 and had become a supply center for the local miners. Service at the Hitchcock Ranch Post Office was discontinued on Sep. 12, 1865 when its name was changed to the Green Valley Post Office.

HULFISH: This post office, with a name of unknown origin, was established on Mar. 5, 1901, at a location forty-two miles east of Georgetown. John Darrington would serve as its first, and possibly only, postmaster. On July 30, 1904 it was discontinued and the mail moved to Georgetown.

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).

When Placerville Knew How to Party

Placerville LabelSome time ago Steve Crandell, who owns Steve Crandell, Historic Prints on Main Street in Placerville, came across an interesting old advertising poster for an event in Placerville. “When I saw it I knew I had to have it,” said Crandell, “I had never seen one like it before.

“It had a picture of an old saloon with people dancing and said it said, ‘Hit the Gold Trail to Hangtown’ and ‘Placerville Days of ‘49 Mining Camp, May 21 to July 5.’ I knew it was something special. It wasn’t in perfect shape, but since most of these kinds of posters were thrown away when the event was over, it was amazing to find one at all.

“It was printed using an old process called stone printing, that was only used commercially up until the 1920s or so.  I figured it might be really old, maybe even from the 50th celebration of the discovery of gold in 1898 or at least the later 100th celebration in 1948.”

It turns out that the celebration was neither of those events, but a very special, six week long event that took place in 1931.

Like 1930, 1931 was predicted to not be a good year for the country. The Great Depression was affecting everyone in all walks of life and things looked grim. That is probably the reason that the California State Chamber of Commerce and California Newspaper Publishers Association came up with the idea to make 1931 the “California Fiesta Year, Bringing Happiness to the World.”

In October of 1930 three members of the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce attended a meeting of the state chamber in Sacramento where local communities were encouraged to came up with an idea for an event with a “ ’49er” theme. At the next meeting of the El Dorado Chamber, one of the attendees commented that “Although Mariposa, Woodland and Stockton have plans for events, the northern part of the state is looking to Placerville to stage the biggest ’49 celebration. After all, old Hangtown is the home of ’49.”

In November of the same year, the County Chamber announced that there would be a one day event on May 23, 1931 as a special feature of entertainment for the Grand Lodge of the Knights of Pythia, who were meeting in Sacramento that week. It addition, there would be a ten-day celebration ending on July 4 as the “principal ‘49er observance of the summer in Placerville.” They then offered a $5 prize to the person who could come up with the best slogan for the event, using the word “Hangtown” in it and invited bids from private citizens for the staging of the event.

At their next meeting the County Chamber announced that W. J. Tracy of Pacific House had won the slogan contest with “Hit the Gold Trail to Hangtown,” and accepted the plan and bid from L. J. “Doc” Anderson, to manage the affair.

The final plan was to call it the “Hangtown 49er Homecoming, Celebration” with the theme “Hit the Gold Trail to Hangtown,” and it would last for seven weekends, starting on May 21 and ending on July 5th. On five acres next to the Marcus P. Bennett, Jr. Memorial Park they would build a Gold Rush style “Hangtown Camp” with a saloon and casino, an outside dance floor, and much more. For races and games they would use Bennett Park.

Posters, such as the one Crandell located, were printed, “in the old manner on a coarse grade of wrapping paper, which used to be known in some sections as ‘butcher paper’” it said in the April 17, 1931 edition of the “Mountain Democrat.” These were widely distributed and a later edition of the same newspaper mentions that they were posted in Sacramento and San Francisco, and as far away as the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego.

Stickers were also printed, along with 5,000 programs as an advertisement. The stickers were perfect for putting on packages and letters to friends outside the county and the programs fit easily into a regular envelope.

A delegation of local citizens led by the Native Daughters of the Golden West met with California Governor James Rolph who was so delighted with the idea that he arranged to have both houses of the State Legislature recess so that the delegation could meet with them to promote the event. As a souvenir, the governor was presented with a paperweight containing a golden butterfly created with flakes of gold from the gold mine James Marshall had opened in Kelsey. The governor also agreed to attend the event and June 13 was scheduled to be “Governor’s Day.”

A. B. Gray, the secretary of the California Tourist Association, and former editor of the Mountain Democrat, visited communities with posters in hand, promoting the event, and for  the first time ever  banners advertising any event, let alone one in Placerville, were allowed to be hung on the Ferry Building in San Francisco and several bridges between Sacramento and that city.

The Man Who Discovered the Gold

James Wilson Marshall

James Wilson Marshall

On top of a hill in Coloma, I’m told,
lies the grave of the man who discovered the gold.
James Marshall’s his name and his fame has spread wide,
although the attempted his secret to hide.

A sawmill he built by the river so wild,
and the great trees which stood, became lumber they piled.
The mill and the land were John Sutter’s to hold,
but he’s not the one who discovered the gold.

While checking the millrace Marshall bent and moved sand,
and picked up some flakes which he held in his hand.
To his workers he said, “I think a gold mine I’ve found,”
a secret they thought, but the word got around.

He packed a small can with the nuggets he got,
and took them to Sutter, to see what he thought.
The words that came back made him shiver like cold,
“It appears to me sir, you’ve discovered some gold.”

The word spread like fire throughout all the land,
it’s there for the taking, just reach out you hand.
And to John Sutter’s land, which he only had claimed,
they started to come the vast riches to gain.

From the east they first started and westward they went,
from the north, from the south, from the far orient.
Up the river they came miners brazen and bold,
to the place where the man had discovered the gold.

First by hundreds, then thousands up the river they came,
followed closely by more, each to stake out a claim.
By foot and by horseback and by wagon they sped,
“To Coloma!,” the cry, “It’s just straight ahead.”

It was littered with great ships, the Golden Gate bay,
as their crews left for riches, they all ran away.
They’d come ‘round the horn jammed from topdeck to hold,
bringing men towards the place he’d discovered the gold.

Jacob Phillips Mining Operation, Grizzly Flat 1851-52 cropThey divided the land, Sutter’s land don’t forget,
each man worked his claim the vast riches to get.
They moved the great river, it’s gravel laid bare,
to get at the gold, it was just lying there.

But soon their luck faded, fewer riches they took,
thus some of he brave ones went elsewhere to look.
So outward they spread, miners both young and old,
away from the place he’d discovered the gold.

But a few hearty souls took a long look around,
and saw there were riches not deep in the ground.
Like great stands of timber and fields to be plowed,
a land to be settled and of which to be proud.

So they planted he fields and the timber they cut,
where once there were tents, their houses sprung up.
Their families came west, as the wagon trains rolled,
to the land where the man had discovered the gold.

The merchants they prospered as more people moved there,
by railroad or wagon, o’er the Sierra with care.
They came west with purpose and talents in need,
to make blossom these towns, which were growing, indeed.

Some towns that they started great cities became,
as more and more settlers moved across the great plain.
They made California a land to behold,
it honors the man who discovered the gold.

Marshall Monument 2 cropOn top of his grave, in Coloma, is set,
a statue of Marshall, so none will forget,
the man who came west, many years long ago,
and started the rush to the valley below.

His arm is outstretched and it points slightly down,
towards the river that winds through the center of town.
He seems to be saying, to all young and old,
“There!, that’s the place I discovered the gold.”

Copyright 1977, Douglas Noble