Community Profiles

Along Green Valley Road, Part 3 – Skinner Winery to Lotus Road

Rose Springs Literacy Society Building

Rose Springs Literacy Society Building

Only a short distance to the east of the Skinner Winery, on the western end of White Oak Flat, was a large red brick store built by George D. H. Meyers, a miner from Tennessee Creek. Years later John Wing purchased the property and, after his death, his widow Louisa ran a roadhouse in conjunction with the store, which was commonly known as Wing’s Store. Nearby, James Wing, her son, operated a toll road paralleling the county road.

One mile to the east, on the north side of the road, stood the White Oak Springs Hotel. Opened in 1852, it was purchased by Arthur Litten in 1859.  Across from it was a brick house that was originally owned by Constantine Hicks (New York House owner) and later, Louisa Wing’s brother, Aylmer Pelton.

Much of the history of the White Oak Springs Hotel is lost except for an April 28, 1852 altercation between an employee of the hotel, James Hewlett and a man named Abner Spencer. Hewlett is said to have stabbed Spencer, who died the next day. On the spot of the crime, a citizens’ committee tried Hewlett and convicted him of murder. Within an hour of the crime he was hanged from a nearby oak tree.

Just beyond the White Oak Springs Hotel was the original location of the town of Rescue (later moved to Rose Springs), where Mrs. Pearle Wing managed a later version of Wing’s Store.

A little over a quarter mile to the east, on the south side of the road and on the east bank of Kelly Creek (just west of the future location of the Tennessee Schoolhouse) was the Kelly Creek House. It was owned by an immigrant from Scotland named William Harriett.

Mr. Harriett operated the business for over fourteen years. When he died, his wife Agnes married August Baring (also known as Frederick Riemer) and the couple ran the business for several more years.

Along Green Valley Road, Part 2 – New York House to Skinner Winery

skinner winery bwJust to the east of the New York House was the beginning of the Hopkin’s Toll Road, which was a mile and a quarter long and better maintained than the county road. Along it, on the north side of the road was a log cabin in which a Mrs. Powell kept a roadside hotel. It is close to where the Live Oak Schoolhouse was later built. Just to the east of it, on the south side of the road was large two-story frame building knows as the Wakasha or Walkershaw House.

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Taylor, the aunt and uncle of Austin Taylor Leachman (Leachman House), operated the Wakasha House, which was one of the main stops for travelers going to the Mother Lode. It, like many early hotels in the Mother Lode, was built and assembled on the east coast, disassembled and shipped around the Horn to California. It was the Taylors who offered a job to young Mary Sullivan, who soon thereafter, met Austin and married him.

The origin of the name is unknown, but some say it strangely commemorates the Paiute chief called Walker-aw, who misdirected a group of the Bennett-Arcane party (also known as the Sand Walking Company or Jayhawkers) through Death Valley to the gold fields. The Jayhawkers ended up a few miles to the east, near Rescue.

About a mile further along the trail, on the eastern edge of Green Valley was the Green Springs House.

Located on the south side of the road, the Green Springs House was built by Rufus Hitchcock, who had been connected with the Sutter’s Fort Hotel. He would run the place until 1851, when he died from smallpox. It was then purchased by William Dormody, who ran it until he died in 1876. His widow, Sarah F. Dormody then took over what would become a favorite location for wedding parties.

Along Green Valley Road, Part 1 – County Line to the New York House

The Rolling Hill House

The Rolling Hill House

It should be noted that this series of articles is just a quick look at Green Valley Road. Much of this area is covered in greater depth in a recently released and fantastic book,  “History of a Place Called Rescue,” by William C. Teie and Francis M. Carpenter. It can be purchased online at www.deervalleypress.com.

There were two distinct and separate east-west routes through the western part of El Dorado County during the early years of the Gold Rush. One was called the White Rock Road route and the other, Green Valley Road.

White Rock Road, the predecessor of Highway 50, was one of the major routes for the California immigrants traveling west by land. Many came over the Sierra Nevada and picked up the road in the Tahoe Basin, following it to Placerville and then, possibly to Sacramento and points west, north or south.

On the other hand, nearly all of the traffic that moved west to east (Sacramento to the mines) followed the other route – Green Valley Road (also known as the Overland Trail).

Green Valley Road was one of the earliest roads in El Dorado County. The first miners, those who arrived by ship or overland from Oregon and from towns along the coast of California,  blazed this route to get to Mormon Bar, New York Creek, and, ultimately, Coloma only a few months after James Marshall picked up those first few flakes of gold.

As with other busy roads, there would soon be many places or stations along the road where a hungry or tired miner or teamster could find food, supplies or a place to rest for the night. Some of these places lasted only a short time and some went on to last a century or more. Therefore, not all of them may have existed at the same time.

Along White Rock Road – Part 4, Mud Springs (El Dorado) to Placerville

Diamond Springs 1856

Diamond Springs 1856

At the eastern end of the town of Mud Springs a toll road owned by Michael O’Keefe left the main road and proceeded north towards Placerville. This road was probably along a portion of Forni Road, which at one time was part of the state highway system, before being replaced by the extension of Mother Lode Drive.

The only roadhouse on the toll road was one owned by William Madison Tanner. It was located about three miles north of Mud Springs and two miles west of Placerville. Some years later, a slaughterhouse was constructed on that site.

Eastward from Mud Springs along the main road (Pleasant Valley Road), about half way to Diamond Springs, was “Doc” Bradford Hammill’s (B. Hammel?) roadhouse and stage station. There is little information about this stop, other that it and its supporting barns were located on the south side of the road and were operated by Hammill in 1869. It then passed into the hands of a William Voss (“Van Voss”?).

Another mile to the east the road enters the mining town of Diamond Springs.

Known by this name because of the crystal clear springs that made it a favorite camping place for immigrants (some contend the clear quartz crystals found in the area were the source for the name), Diamond Spring (later Diamond Springs), was a major stop along the immigrant trail.

Early on gold was discovered in Diamond Springs and in a short time buildings of all kinds sprung up. The first was a log cabin built in 1849, followed the next year by the first roadhouse, which was built by Andrew Carbly Bloom.

In 1855 he sold this hotel and bakery and, like many of the early immigrants, simply moved on. The place was operated by different people until it and most of the town were destroyed by what became known as the Great Fire of 1856. Luckily, one roadhouse survived the fire, the California House.