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. Others existed, but nobody was sure of their exact location. These were called ghost post offices. Many others, once established, continue to operate until this day.
SUNBEAM – This post office was established on Apr. 6, 1888 at a location on the west side of Lake Tahoe, some two and one-half miles south of McKinney (Placer County) and nine miles north of Tallac.
It is known that the first postmaster was Dietrich Kaiser, but there is no record of the origin of the name.
On Oct. 14, 1893 service at this post office was discontinued and the mail moved to the post office at McKinney.
TAHO – This post office, originally named Lake Valley for its location at the southern end of Lake Tahoe, was established on Dec. 26, 1863 with Underhill Van Wagner serving as the first postmaster.
The name is believed to be a corruption of the Washo(e) Indian word “Tahooee”, meaning “much water.” Service was discontinued on Dec. 20, 1870 when the name of the post office was changed to Tallac.
TAHOE KEYES – The Tahoe Keyes Post Office, named for what was originally a vacation and recreation marina on the south end of Lake Tahoe, was established on Aug. 17, 1959 as a branch of the Tahoe Valley Post Office. Since it was a branch of another post office, it had no postmaster.
On July 1, 1962 service at this branch was discontinued.
Like the Tahoe Keyes Post Office it was named for a vacation resort that would become a subdivision. Also like the Tahoe Keyes Post Office, and for the same reason, it had no postmaster.
On Mar. 24, 1967, it became a rural branch of the South Lake Tahoe Post Office.
A Lake Tahoe vacation resort, it was located three and one-half miles southwest of Al Tahoe and five miles southeast of Camp Richardson.
On Mar. 24, 1967, it became a station of the South Lake Tahoe Post Office.
TALLAC – This post office was established on Dec. 20, 1870 as a result of the change of the name of the Taho Post Office, with Ephraim Clement as its first postmaster.
Located on the south end of Lake Tahoe, five and one-half miles west of South Lake Tahoe, it obtained its name from an Indian word meaning “large mountain”.
On Feb. 15, 1871 service was discontinued and the name changed to Lake Valley. On Mar. 12, 1875 it was reestablished as Tallac. On Nov. 13, 1883, it was moved one-half mile east and on Mar. 10, 1888, moved one-half mile west.
Service was discontinued on June 16, 1927 when the name was changed to Camp Richardson.
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).