Community Profiles

Along White Rock Road – Part 3, Forty Mile House to Mud Springs (El Dorado)

California House before changing to Hill Hotel. Courtesy of Steve Crandell Fine Art, Placerville

California House before changing to Hill Hotel. Courtesy of Steve Crandell Fine Art, Placerville

Before we leave Forty Mile House, just west of Frenchtown Road, we should note that the original 1848 – 1849 Carson Emigrant Road passed a hundred and fifty feet or so south of the existing Mother Lode Drive (old Highway 50).

About one-hundred yards west of where the original road crossed the Latrobe road (now  Frenchtown Road), was located a small grave of a young girl who died here after a long overland journey across the plains and mountains to California and only forty miles from Sutter’s Fort. Unfortunately, the wooden fence and marker that her grieving parents erected at her final resting place were destroyed by a brush fire many years ago.

About a half mile east of the Forty Mile House was the Mountain House, which stood at Greenstone (Road?), the intersection the main road and the road to Latrobe.

This roadhouse marked the eastern end of Johnson’s or Davidson’s toll road, which was several hundred feet north of the present Mother Lode Drive. There is some indication that Mr. Davidson may have run this roadhouse, but that is all that is known about it.

Three quarters of a mile further east was the Kingsville House, at a place known also as Kingvale or Kingville (across from Taeger’s Firewood just east of Summit View Subdivision).

In 1853, the proprietors of this roadhouse claimed they were “erecting the largest building in the state”, a statement that seems to have little factual information to support it.

In 1862 another proprietor, Withers King, prepared an advertisement for the newspapers offering it and the ranch, consisting of about 600 acres, for sale. He also offered for sale the nearby Slate Creek House and 50 acres, about which little is known.

Along White Rock Road – Part 2, Clarksville to the Forty Mile House

Duroc House PlaqueUp the hill towards Placerville and to the east of the Margaret Tong’s Railroad House at Clarksville, was Samuel Freeman’s place and the Atlantic House. Nothing is known about these two stops other than the fact that they were at the junction with a road heading north which passed by Bass Lake, a reservoir for the Diamond Ridge Water Company. This road, which has its northern termination at Green Valley Road, would become today’s Bass Lake Road.

About a mile and a half east of the Atlantic House was the Ohio House (a fairly common name for hotels and inns), located on the north side of the road just west of Deer Creek (just east of today’s Cambridge Road).

In 1858, Sebastian Zimmerman purchased this land, which had on it only a log cabin built in 1849. There he erected several buildings including the hotel. Until the railroad reached Shingle Springs in 1865, the Ohio House was a very important overnight stop for teamsters.

About a mile further to the east was another one of the inns about which little is known, Daniel Hate Holdridge’s Deer Creek Hotel. Strangely, only a half mile further was a place much is know about, the DuRoc House.

The earliest record owners of this inn that stood at the top of a hill on the south side of the road, were Lewis and Sarah Ann Holdridge. They owned it in 1857 and 1858, and sold “the DuRoc house and ranch” to E. S. and Maria Hanshett. Later it was acquired by Theron and Mary Foster, Foster at one time being a member of the California Assembly.

On November 20, 1860, Frederick Gustavus Crawford, a teamster who was a frequent visitor to the DuRoc House, married Theron and Mary’s daughter, Mary Lanette Foster. In 1867 he joined Theron in operating the inn.

After helping Theron plant a vineyard, Crawford would move to Davisville and then Willows, where he and Mary Lanette built and ran hotels. One of these hotels, the Crawford House in Willows, was rated by some as one of the best appointed hotels in northern California.

Along White Rock Road – Part 1, White Rock to Clarksville

Courtesy of Steve Crandell, Fine Art, Placerville, CA

Courtesy of Steve Crandell, Fine Art, Placerville, CA

The major immigrant trail through El Dorado County was known by many names. Some called it the Carson – Immigrant Trail, some the Overland Trail, some the Sacramento – Washoe Road and some White Rock Road.

Because hundreds of thousands of immigrants followed this road west and later the long lines of freight traffic followed it east, there became established on it numerous stops and inns to serve these travelers.

We will look at at this road in a west to east direction, starting just west of the El Dorado County line and ending in Placerville. At Placerville, we continue our journey over the summit of the Sierra Nevada, through the American River Canyon, along what is now known as Highway 50.

The White Rock Springs Ranch Hotel, which was located about a mile and a quarter to the west of the El Dorado County line, derived its name from both a natural spring on the south side of the road and an isolated outcropping of white “bull quartz” on the north side of the road.

The ranch and the hotel were purchased by William Chapman in the fall of 1850 and later, sometime after 1880, by Samuel (Sophary?) Euer. Although the hotel started as not much more than a tent in the early days of the Gold Rush, it soon grew into a large hotel and tavern, important enough to give the road its name.

Just west of the County was the Aldridge Ravine House, on the south side of the road across from a grove of cottonwoods. Little is known about this station along the road other than about 1857 the proprietor was a James Douglas.

About a half mile later, on the south side of the road and just inside El Dorado County was the Bar-E Ranch which was also known as the Dennis Philip Bence property.

It was acquired by Samuel Euer in 1864, a number of years before he purchased the White Rock Springs Ranch House. One hundred and twenty years later, much of the Bar E Ranch – by then known as the Euer Ranch – would become the El Dorado Hills Business Park.

A short distance further along the road is the Carson River House, located on the north side of the road on the bank of Carson Creek, a tributary of the Cosumnes River. Little more is known about this stop other than the name of an early proprietor being Paris.

Community Profiles – Spanish Flat

Spanish Flat Miners

Miners at Spanish Flat

Spanish Flat was once one of the most important mining towns in what was known both as the Kelsey Township and the Kelsey Mining District. It was located on the Placerville to Georgetown stage road (now Highway 193), about six miles south of Georgetown, north of Kelsey, and near another early mining town known as American Flat.

Its name is derived from the fact that it was first settled by Spaniards, which is the term loosely applied to the Mexican citizens who were in California when it was ceded to the United States (Californios) and also those miners that came from almost any of the countries in Central and South America.

The name of this town is known world-wide because of a single daguerreotype (photograph) entitled, “Miners at Spanish Flat, El Dorado County”, that appears in nearly every book about the Gold Rush. Attributed to an early photographer name Joseph Blaney Starkweather, the often printed photo shows four miners, two of whom are black, working together in what appears to be conditions of equality. The original of this photo is kept at the California State Library and was prominently on display at the Oakland Museum’s Sesquicentennial of the Gold Rush exhibition a few years ago. It is believed to have been taken in 1852.

The richest early diggings around Spanish Flat were close to the town, at a claim first worked by the “Spanish” miners. Later this claim was known as the “Frazier Claim” or “Deep Hole”, and was worked by a group known as M. S. Frazier & Co., that consisted of John Kennedy, George Hunsucker, Amos Blundell and John Hunsucker.

Together, this group was able to remove over $100,000 of gold, which is a large amount, since at the time gold was valued at around $16 an ounce.