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.

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