Monthly Archives: December 2014

Where Did That Road Name Come From? N – O

Continuing through the alphabet of common and obscure names given the local roads and streets over the past century and a half:

Nashville Trail was once a road that connected the area east of Diamond Springs to the mining community of Nashville, which was located just north of the Cosumnes River on the main road connecting the northern and southern mines (now Highway 49). Nashville was formerly known as Quartzville, Quartzburg and Tennessee Bar, before getting its present name.

Newtown Road at one time connected Placerville with the mining town of Newtown. All that is left of the town is just a few buildings, but at one time is was much more.
Newtown started with a store built by Israel Clapp. This was soon followed by another store erected by Lewis Foster, W. F. Leon’s hotel and then a butcher shop, blacksmith shops, a post office (1852), a ten-pin alley and at least one brewery. The brewery obtained its water from a spring high on a hill to the south, through a wire-wrapped, wooden pipeline ( a portion of the pipe can be seen sticking out of the north side of a cut on Fort Jim Road). By 1854 the road leading directly from Newtown to Placerville was completed and Newtown had become, as Paolo Sioli so aptly put it in his History of El Dorado County (1883) “…a full-fledged California mining town, with all its appliances, even to a dance house in the suburbs.”

North Street, or in some cases North Alley, was the name commonly given to the first street north of the main street in early townsites. As has been pointed out before, the early settlers were uncomplicated people and gave streets their logical names. A perfect example of this can be found in he early mining town of El Dorado (Mud Springs), which has a Main Street, North Street, South Street, Church Street and Cemetery Street, among others.

Oak is probably the most commonly found street name in the foothills, mostly because of the abundance of the many species of oak trees. Separately or together with other words, at least fifty streets have this name.

In the 1980s El Dorado County adopted a policy of not allowing any more street names containing oak, gold, pine and several other common words due to the possibility of causing confusion to the emergency services such as police, ambulance and fire protection.

Roads with the name “Old” in front of them usually indicate that somewhere in its history the road has been moved, usually because new earthmoving equipment became available.

Examples of this are Old Bass Lake Road, Old Carson Road, Old Green Valley Road and Old Greenwood Road, to name just a few.

One exception to this is Old Frenchtown Road, which connects Mother Lode Drive with a former bustling Gold Rush community known as Frenchtown. The road name is new, but all that is left of the town is just a few buildings near the intersection of Old Frenchtown Road and French Creek Road.
In the early years of El Dorado County’s history, Old Frenchtown Road was the major road from the immigrant trail to the town of Latrobe and was previously known as Latrobe Road.

Omo Ranch Road connects the town of Mt. Aukum with the town of Omo Ranch and, ultimately, Highway 88.

Omo Ranch is believed to be named after a Miwok Indian village that had been located on this site. The name of the village was Omo, which may or may not be an Indian word meaning “water”. Some disagree with this pointing out that Omo could have easily been someone’s name, a misspelling of the Biblical town of Ono or even an old cattle brand. Omo, even others are quick to point out, is the Latin root for the word “man”.

One Eye Creek Road is named for a creek in the Mosquito area of El Dorado County, that flowed in through One Eye Canyon and then south into the South Fork of the American River.

According to Benjamin Summerfield and John Bennett, two gentlemen who built the first sawmill along this creek in 1851 or 1852, the creek and canyon are believed to have been named for the first miner along the creek, a man who had but one eye.

The word Oro shows up in several street names, obviously because it is the Spanish word for Gold.

Outingdale Road is a dead-end road between the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River and Fairplay Road that connects Mt. Aukum Road with one of the county’s earliest subdivisions known as Outingdale.

Outingdale was originally laid out in the 1920s as a number of small lots along the south side of the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River, most of which have been since combined to meet today’s building requirements. Prior to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the developers were very successful in advertising and selling the lots in the San Francisco Bay area as vacation homesites.

Sources for this story include: “Atlas of California,” by Donley, Allan, Caro and Patton (1979); “California Gold Camps,” by Erwin Gudde (1975); “California Place Names,” by Erwin Gudde, 3rd Edition (1974); “History of El Dorado County,” by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); the Mountain Democrat, 1854-present; the Empire County Argus (Coloma), 1853-1856; the Californian (Monterey), 1846-47; the California Star (1847-48) and the Alta California (San Francisco), 1849-1850.

Where Did That Road Name Come From? – M

Continuing through the alphabet of common and obscure names given the local roads and streets over the past century and a half:

There are a number of roads in El Dorado County that contain the word Madrone in their name. This is a reference to the Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), a native tree with a cinnamon colored, peeling bark and bright green leaves. These trees are often found in groups or as single individuals, above the 1000 foot elevation.

Maidu Road is named in honor of the Maidu tribe of Native Americans that occupied much of El Dorado County and land to the north.

Malachite Way refers to the common green ore of copper by that name.

Manzanita, a name that often shows up in road names, is one of more common native plants (genus Arctostaphylos) which is found at nearly all elevations in El Dorado County. Some species grow as tall as 22 feet, while others form a ground mat no higher than a few inches.

Maraposite Lane is named for the green rock by that name which is found in association with gold bearing quartz, especially in the Mother Lode Fault, which runs north and south through the mid-section of our county. A block of maraposite was cut and shipped to Washington D.C. to represent California as a part of the “Rock Across America” event several years ago.

Markham Road and Markham School are named for Charles Edwin Markham, the world renown poet, who was elected to the office of Superintendent of El Dorado County Public Schools in 1879. He was married to the daughter of Roger and Margaret Nicholls Cox, early settlers in the Coloma area.

Marshall is probably the most common person’s name found on roads and businesses in El Dorado County. James Wilson Marshall was, of course, the early immigrant who in partnership with John Sutter, set out to construct a sawmill in the Culloma (Coloma) Valley. It was he who, on January 24, 1848 while checking the millrace, stooped and picked up a flake of gold thereby starting the California Gold Rush. In spite of the riches he led people to, he died a pauper.

Martinez Creek Road refers to the creek that starts east of Diamond Springs and flows to the southwest, ultimately connecting with the Cosumnes River. No one is sure for whom it is named, but it did pass by a large unnamed camp of several thousand Mexican miners to the south of the town of El Dorado, near what was the Union Mine landfill site.

Meder Road in Shingle Springs and Cameron Park is named in memory of John Meder, who arrived in California from Germany in 1854. After trying his hand at mining for a while, he decided to settle down and married Fredolina Fretman in 1861. The two of them raised a family of seven children on a 410 acre ranch they purchased in 1869, in what was then known as the White Oak Township. On the ranch were about 4,000 grape vines and a few fruit trees, along with the remains of the chimney and other relics of the former home of Peter Wimmer, who was at the gold discovery with Marshall in 1848.

Mewuk Drive is a common misspelling of the word Miwok, the tribe of Native Americans that occupied the southern part of El Dorado County before the arrival of the white man.

Missouri Flat Road is named for an early settlement by that name, which was north of Highway 50. It was there that some early miners from Missouri found gold around the year 1856.

Modoc Court and Modoc Way refer to the Modoc Tribe of Native Americans who lived on the California/Oregon border, to the east of the Cascade Range. The last of the major “Indian Wars” was fought there around the turn of the century between the forces of the United States and a group of Native Americans led by a chief named Captain Jack. In and around Lava Beds National Monument (a great place to take children) are remnants and reminders of this “war.”

Monitor Road and Monitor Court refer to the large water cannons used to free gold from the gravel of ancient river beds. Hydraulic mining, which washed away literally mountains (drive Big Cut Road south from Placerville), was banned in the late 1800s because of political pressure from the farmers in the valleys who claimed the process was silting up the rivers.

Monument Drive, in Coloma, leads to the grave of James Wilson Marshall, on which sets a large monument erected in 1890 The road is one-half mile long and has a sign stating it is State Route 153 and the shortest State Highway in California. However, in 1970 a portion of Highway 101 in Humboldt County was made into State Route 283 and is shorter. It is so short that it doesn’t have any signs indicating that it is a State Route (sounds a bit fishy to me).

Mormon Emigrant Trail, once known as Iron Mountain Road, follows the approximate route a large group of Mormon settlers took in 1848 on their way from Pleasant Valley to Salt Lake City. Since they were emigrating from El Dorado County, not immigrating into it, the road is properly called an emigrant trail.

Mosquito Road leads from Placerville to a historic mining camp on the north side of the South Fork of the American River called Mosquito (also Mosquito Valley). The road passes over one of the most picturesque bridges in El Dorado County, the famous cable and wood, “swinging bridge”. Because of a subdivision first developed in the late 1960s, Mosquito is often referred to as Swansboro County.

Sources for this story include: “Atlas of California,” by Donley, Allan, Caro and Patton (1979); “California Gold Camps,” by Erwin Gudde (1975); “California Place Names,” by Erwin Gudde, 3rd Edition (1974); “History of El Dorado County,” by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); the Mountain Democrat, 1854-present; the Empire County Argus (Coloma), 1853-1856; the Californian (Monterey), 1846-47; the California Star (1847-48) and the Alta California (San Francisco), 1849-1850.

Where Did That Road Name Come From? J- L

Continuing through the alphabet of common and obscure names given the local roads and streets over the past century and a half:

Jackpine Road is named for the gray-green pine tree that grows on the less fertile and drier soils in our county. For many years the tree was also known as the Digger Pine, after the local Native Americans who ate the pine nuts from the tree and were called “Diggers” because they also dug up roots and bulbs for food and other uses. More recently the tree has been officially re-named the Gray Pine to be more politically correct.

Jacquier Road (pronounced jake way) is a road in Smith Flat connecting Smith Flat Road (old Highway 50) and Carson Road. It is named for the Jacquier family who owned property in that area.

Jay Hawk Court, Jayhawk Drive and the Jayhawk Cemetery in Rescue are named for early settlers who came not from Kansas, but from Missouri in the 1850s (Kansas not becoming a state until 1861). The term was later applied to guerrilla raiders in Kansas during the Civil War.

Johntown Creek Road is named for a creek near Garden Valley that is one of the first places prospected north of the Coloma valley following the discovery of gold in January of 1848.

The town named Johntown, which was actually a suburb of Garden Valley, was located at the junction of Manhattan and Empire creeks (the headwaters of Johntown Creek). It was often used interchangeably with Garden Valley through the late 1880’s. Who the creek, town and road was named for is lost in history, although there is a possibility that it was named for an early settler, John Cody, who built a sawmill there.

Kanaka Valley Road, is a road that leads to Kanaka Valley, near Salmon Falls.
The term Kanaka, comes from the Hawaiian word for person or human being and was used to identify the immigrant natives from the Sandwich Islands (later Hawai’i) in the mid-1850s, including most of the crew on the ship that brought John Sutter to California from the Sandwich Islands. They were not liked by the American miners because they were great swimmers and would dive into the rivers and pick up gold nuggets. Kanaka soon became a derogatory word in California.

Kelsey Road and Kelsey Canyon Road get their name from the two brothers, Benjamin and Samuel Kelsey, early miners after whom the town of Kelsey is named.
Benjamin, his wife Nancy and their daughter, Ann, were members of the Bidwell-Bartleson Party which arrived in California in 1841, making Nancy and Ann the first white women to cross the plains into California. Benjamin and Samuel’s brother Andrew, also a member of that party, settled in Lake County and was killed in 1849 by the local natives whom he reportedly did not treat well. The town of Kelseyville in that county is named in his memory.

Kentucky Flat Road serves Kentucky Flat, a large area near Otter Creek, east of Georgetown that was first settled by a group of miners from Kentucky. Later, Aretas J. and Isabella Wilton settled on 160 acres there, engaging in mining and agriculture while raising four children.

Kingvale Road runs in a southerly direction from Motherlode Drive between El Dorado and Shingle Springs. At the intersection of the two roads was the community of Kingvale (sometimes called Kingsville) and the Kingsville House, a roadhouse claimed by the owners in 1853 (without much basis in fact) to be the “largest building in the state”.

Latrobe Road, which becomes El Dorado Hills Boulevard north of Highway 50, is named for the town of Latrobe, which it serves from both the north and the south, connecting with Highway 16 near Rancho Murietta.

The town and the road were named prior to 1864, by the Chief Engineer for the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad, F. A. Bishop, who surveyed and platted the town into small lots to sell and make money for the railroad. While doing so, he suggested the name of Latrobe for the new town, in honor of Benjamin H. Latrobe, Jr., the civil engineer for the first railroad in the United States. It is now believed that Latrobe, Pennsylvania is named after him, not his father, a famous architect of the same name who designed the Bank of Pennsylvania and rebuilt the U.S. Capitol after the British burned it in 1814).

Logtown Ridge Road, or more often Logtown Road, was the former name for a portion of Highway 49 between the town of El Dorado and the Amador County line.
The town of Logtown was about two miles south of El Dorado and was a large mining camp with a population of 420 in the 1850 census. Although no one seems to know for sure how the town got its name, it is believed that it was named for the log cabins that the early miners built.

Sources for this story include: “Atlas of California,” by Donley, Allan, Caro and Patton (1979); “California Gold Camps,” by Erwin Gudde (1975); “California Place Names,” by Erwin Gudde, 3rd Edition (1974); “History of El Dorado County,” by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); the Mountain Democrat, 1854-present; the Empire County Argus (Coloma), 1853-1856; the Californian (Monterey), 1846-47; the California Star (1847-48) and the Alta California (San Francisco), 1849-1850.

Where Did That Road Name Come From? F – I

Continuing through the alphabet of common and obscure names given the local roads and streets over the past century and a half:

Fallen Leaf Road, in South Lake Tahoe, is the road that takes one to Fallen Leaf Lake, a name it gets from its roughly oval shape.

Flat Broke Way is a similar statement to Costalotta Road.

Forebay Road, in Pollock Pines, is named for the manmade lake called Forebay. Forebay is the usual name for a body of water that feeds a power plant. When the water has finished turning the turbines, it flows into an afterbay.

Forni Road is named for one of the Forni families in El Dorado County. It connects El Dorado with Placerville Drive. At one time a portion of this road was the State Highway before several re-alignments and the creation the freeway.

Fort Jim Road, which parallels Newtown Road, is named for “Old Fort Jim” which is located somewhere on Jim Valley Road.

Fowler Lane, in Diamond Springs, is believed to have been named for either William J. or Gus H. Fowler, two early immigrants to El Dorado County.

Fruitridge Road was named because of the large number of fruit trees that were planted in the deep soils along the ridge in the area. Ridges have fewer frost problems than valleys.

Garden Valley Road is the name of a road which serves the community of Garden Valley. It is in the northern part of our county where vegetable gardens once, and now again, flourish.

Georgetown Road, now a part of Highway 193, a road named for the famous town on the “divide” formerly called Growlersburg after the sound made by the large gold nuggets that “growled” in their pans. It was then called George’s Town, and later Georgetown after the first miner to pitch a tent at that location, a sailor named George Phipps (there is controversy about this, since some report that it was named after another 49er, George Ehrenhart).

Georgia Slide Road connects Georgetown with a mining camp where many experienced miners who had left an 1828 “gold rush” near the town of Dahlonega, Georgia and settled, bringing with them vast amounts of mining knowledge and experience that they fortunately shared.

Gold Hill Road, an east-west road connecting Highway 49 and Lotus Road through a very rich mining area of El Dorado County, an area that because of its warmer winter climate, now has groves of avocado and citrus trees. It is considered to be El Dorado County’s “banana belt.”

Granite Hill Road, another road to the north of Placerville, served a community by that name, a community to which the Cold Spring Post Office was moved in 1874.

Greenstone Road is named for the locally common rock of that color.

Green Valley Road is a portion of the main route the early miners and their supply wagons took from Sacramento and points west through Green Valley to the rich mining areas near Coloma. It is now the major north-side connection between Cameron Park, El Dorado Hills and Folsom.

Greenwood Road is the road that serves the early mining town of Greenwood. It was formerly named Long Valley, Louisville, Greenwood Valley then finally just Greenwood, after an early trading post operator there named John Greenwood.

Grizzly Flat Road, the major supply road from Somerset to the very successful mining town of Grizzly Flat is named for an encounter between some early argonauts and the now extinct, California Grizzly Bear.

Hackomiller Road is named after Henry Hackomiller (often spelled Hakemoller), an early settler, rancher and store-owner who arrived in California in 1849, married and raised five children.

Hank Monk Avenue is named for the very colorful stage driver who, among other accomplishments, brought presidential candidate Horace Greeley from Carson City to Placerville in record time (there is also a Horace Greeley Road).

Hanks Exchange, which is east of Diamond Springs, is named for Julian Hanks who brought goods from San Jose to a location near where Hanks Exchange and Pleasant Valley meet and sold them. Hanks, who was 39 at the time, was a signer of the original 1849 Constitution of the State of California. Due to the makeup of the population in California, that document was published in both English and Spanish.

Happy Valley Road is a road which connects large plots of timber and ranching land in the area known as Happy Valley with Mt. Aukum Road. It has a unique wooden and steel bridge which crosses the North Fork of the Cosumnes River.

High Grade Street is named after a mining technique where only the rock richest in gold was removed from underground mines (often on the sly, without the knowledge of the actual owner of the mine).

Ice House Road is a road which leads from Highway 50 north to the resort community of Ice House and the surrounding Forest Service lands, including Union (formerly Onion) Valley and the rest of the Crystal Basin.

Indian Diggings Road, which serves the community of Indian Diggins, is so named because early immigrants prospecting in the area of Fair Play and Omo Ranch came across Native Americans panning for gold.

There are also a self-evident group of street names in this list which did not appear until fairly recently. Among these are Garbage Dump Road, Getta Way, Goferbroke Road, and Hewenthatta Way.

Sources for this story include: “Atlas of California,” by Donley, Allan, Caro and Patton (1979); “California Gold Camps,” by Erwin Gudde (1975); “California Place Names,” by Erwin Gudde, 3rd Edition (1974); “History of El Dorado County,” by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); the Mountain Democrat, 1854-present; the Empire County Argus (Coloma), 1853-1856; the Californian (Monterey), 1846-47; the California Star (1847-48) and the Alta California (San Francisco), 1849-1850.