Post Offices of El Dorado County

Post Offices of El Dorado County, Part 5 – “C” – “E”

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. Many others, once established, continue to operate until this day.

Cool 1896

Cool 1896

COOL: There are two schools of though about how this community in Cave Valley, six miles south of Auburn and at the northern intersection of Highways 49 and 193, received its name. Some say it was named for P. Y. Cool, an early miner, while others insist it simply was a reference to the weather.
The Cool Post Office was established on Oct. 20, 1885, with Henrietta Lewis serving as the first postmaster. It remains in operation to this day.

 

 

 

Culloma 1850

Culloma 1850

CULLOMA: This is the name first given the Coloma Post Office. The postmark included “Alta Cal” until statehood, and a short while afterwards. The name is derived from the name of a nearby Native American village.

 

 

 

 

 

Diamond Springs 1854

Diamond Springs 1854

DIAMOND SPRING / DIAMOND SPRINGS: This early mining location is most likely named for the crystal clear spring at this important intersection of the Carson Immigrant Trail with the main north-south road through the Mother Lode (now Highway 49). However, some believe it was named for the diamond like, clear quartz crystals found there.
Four miles south of Placerville, the post office was established here on Oct. 17, 1853 with Chauncy N. Noteware as the first postmaster. Since the town was alternatively known as Diamond Spring and Diamond Springs over the years, on July 1, 1950, the Post Office Department officially changed the name to Diamond Springs, at least for post office purposes.
This post office has been in continuous operation since it was first opened and, during the short life of the Pony Express, served as a station for it.

Duroc 1859 "via Panama"

Duroc 1859 “via Panama”

DUROC: This post office was originally known as El Dorado Ranch. The El Dorado Ranch post office was located half way between Mud Springs (El Dorado) and Clarksville, being eight miles from each on the main east-west immigrant road, according to the application filed in Washington, D.C., although the exact location is unknown (a “ghost” post office).
The proposed name for the post office established at this location on June 19, 1857 was Deer Creek, although El Dorado Ranch ended up being the actual name. Lyman A. Hoyt was the first postmaster and on Sept. 14, 1858 the name of the post office was changed to DuRoc, the name likely coming from the name of a French family in the area.
The first postmaster at the DuRoc (later Duroc and even later Durock) Post Office was Theron Foster. On Nov. 23, 1864, about same the time the railroad reached Shingle Springs and the traffic on the road decreased substantially, the post office closed. A portion of the old road still from Shingle Springs to Cameron Park still has the name Durock and there is a monument to the Pony Express  near the bend in the road where it turns into Cameron Park Drive .

ECHO: This post office serving the vacation resort area at Echo Lake, was reported as being ten miles west of Lake Valley and eleven miles east of Slippery Ford. It was established on Aug. 16, 1888 with Ollie Watson as the first postmaster, and discontinued on Dec. 15, 1910. Only a month later, on Jan. 28, 1911 it was reestablished. It was again discontinued on Oct. 31, 1913. On Dec. 11, 1926 it was reestablished and renamed Echo Lake Post Office. On Jan. 31, 1961 it became a rural station of the Vade (Phillips) Post Office. On Sept. 2, 1961 it was changed to a rural station of the Little Norway Post Office. It was again discontinued on Jan. 15, 1973, but reestablished on June 1 of that year, again as a rural station of the Little Norway Post Office. In 1974 it was dropped as a rural station by the Post Office Department.

El Dorado 1857EL DORADO: This early post office was originally known as Mud Springs, a name given this location because the thousands of immigrants traveling along this part of the immigrant trail watered their stock here, muddying the spring and the surrounding land.
The Mud Springs Post Office was established prior to Nov. 6, 1851, the date it was approved in Washington, D.C. Darwin Chase was the first postmaster. On Dec. 15, 1855, the name of the post office was changed to El Dorado with George W. Critchfield serving as its first postmaster.
Named after the Spanish word for “The Gilded One”, because of the number of rich gold mines in the area, the El Dorado Post Office has continuously operated since it was first established.

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).
   

Post Offices of El Dorado County, Part 4 – More “C”

Camp Sacramento

Camp Sacramento

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. Many others, once established, continue to operate until this day.

CAMP SACRAMENTO: This summer or seasonal post office was first established at this location in the American River Canyon, twelve miles east of Kyburz and three miles southwest of Vade (Phillips), on June 17, 1929 with Pearl Chapell as postmaster. Originally it was at Lover’s Leap, one mile to the west, before being moved to this location.
The Lover’s Leap Post Office, named for the legend of an Indian girl who plunged from the adjacent 1,285 foot high rock because her love was unrequited, was established on October 30, 1919 with Annie M. Scherrer as the postmaster. As previously mentioned, it was discontinued in mid-1929 and moved to Camp Sacramento.
The Camp Sacramento Post Office was discontinued on October 31, 1940 and the mail moved to Kyburz.

Canyon 1898CANYON (CREEK): The Canyon Post Office was located five miles to the southeast of Shingle Springs, and named for its location on Big Canyon Creek, once a trading center for the mines in the area. It was established on August 27, 1897 with William A. Green as postmaster. Less than nine years later, on May 14, 1906, the post office was discontinued and the mail moved to the Shingle Springs Post Office.

CEDARVILLE: The Cedarville Post Office was established on November 22, 1853, probably seven miles northwest of Indian Diggings where the road crosses Cedar Creek. The exact location is unknown as there is no record of that in the archives of the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C.
It was discontinued on November 12, 1863 and the mail probably moved to Indian Diggins. Because of the lack of solid information, the Cedarville Post Office is often called a “ghost post office.” The first postmaster was Joseph M. Hawley.

Clarksville 1856

Clarksville 1856

CLARKSVILLE: The post office at this early mining location on the main east-west immigrant road, near the western edge of El Dorado County (25 miles east of Sacramento and 7 miles west of Shingle Springs), was established on July 14, 1855. This post office was discontinued on August 30, 1924 and then reestablished a short time later on February 24, 1927. On May 31, 1934, service was discontinued and the mail moved to Folsom City. The first postmaster was David Cummings.

 

 

 

Cold Spring 1857

Cold Spring 1857

COLD SPRING: This early post office at a location six miles northwest of Placerville, which is now called Cold Springs, was established prior to January 21, 1852, that being the day that its first postmaster, John M. Goetschines, was finally confirmed by the Postmaster General in Washington, D.C. Like many early mining camps, this one soon became a ghost town and on June 11, 1874 the post office was moved to the southeast and renamed Granite Hill with William P. Vernon serving as the Granite Hill Post Office’s first postmaster.
On February 29, 1908 service at the Granite Hill Post Office would be discontinued and the mail moved five miles north to the Coloma Post Office.

 

Coloma 1858

Coloma 1858

COLOMA: Jacob (John) T. Little came to California (Coloma) in 1849 and established one of the first stores for general merchandise. The first post office was operated out of Mr. Little’s store, with him serving as the first of twenty-five postmasters that would serve this post office over the next 150 years. It was officially registered with the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C. on November 8, 1849, however, the earliest known postmark from Coloma bears a manuscript marking of October 20, 1849, proof that Coloma had a post office established earlier than the official record (Special Agent Allen’s letter of August 29, 1849 places him at the site in the latter part of June or first part of July of 1849 when he established the post office).
The early postmarks spelled Coloma as “Culloma” and added “Alta Cal”, for Alta California. After California was admitted as a state in 1850, the “Alta” was no longer used.
The Placer Herald for 1853 indicated that Coloma was then the principal post office in California. There were six different “pony expresses” running between Coloma and surrounding mines to deliver the semi-monthly arriving mail, charging one dollar per letter for delivery. The Empire County Argus also reported on April 15, 1854 that over 4000 letters and packages left the Coloma Post Office for the Atlantic States. The Argus periodically published a list of names of people who had letters waiting unclaimed at the post office. This list frequently contained several hundred names. As a result wagon loads of unclaimed letters were sent to the Dead Letter Office in San Francisco.
Many of the post offices in gold rush towns discontinued service and were closed as the miners and prospectors moved on to new gold fields. They were reopened as people came back to the areas and the towns became viable again. The Coloma Post Office has never closed. The service has remained uninterrupted since 1849, when it was the first post office in what would become El Dorado County.
Mr. Little’s store, and the first post office, was located on the north side of the river, across from the present town. subsequently the office was located in various buildings around Coloma and is currently on Main Street (Highway 49) in the heart of Marshall Gold Discovery State Park.

Gold Discovery  Centennial Stamp 1948

Gold Discovery Centennial Stamp 1948

A “First Day Cover” with a stamp celebrating the centennial of the discovery of gold was postmarked and issued at the Coloma Post Office on January 24, 1948. On November 8, 1999, a special cancellation was applied to letters to celebrate the sesquicentennial of this historic post office.
Note: Much of the above information was provided by the Coloma Post Office.
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).

Post Offices of El Dorado County, Part 3 – “B” and “C”

Bijou Postmark. Last Day.

Bijou Postmark. Last Day.

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. Many others, once established, continue to operate until this day.

BIJOU: This early post office was established at this town on the south end of Lake Tahoe on September 11, 1888, when it was moved here from Rowland, about one and one-half miles to the west. The Rowland Post Office had been established on June 26, 1874, and was named for Bernard F. Rowland who developed this vacation and recreation resort and it’s first postmaster was Sophonia Rowland.

Bijou was named for the French word for “jewel” and was originally a lumber center, before becoming a vacation resort. The Bijou Post Office was discontinued on March 24, 1967, when mail service was taken over by South Lake Tahoe Post Office. Bijou’s first postmaster was Anthony W. Ransey.

Bottle Hill 1857

Bottle Hill 1857

BOTTLE HILL: There are at least three stories behind why this mining camp near Georgetown, where a post office was established on May 28, 1855, was named Bottle Hill or Bottle Hill Diggings.

The first story contends that some miners paused here in 1849 while searching for gold and saw a bottle under a bush. Picking it up, they found it was full of whiskey, which they soon consumed. Believing it was an omen, they went to mining on the hill, starting this camp four miles north of Georgetown.

The second story mentions some miners coming across a pile of bottles at this location.

The third, and most likely story, says that the town was named after a nearby bottle shaped hill in the Hornblende Mountains.

The Bottle Hill Post Office, where Samuel M. Jamison had been the first postmaster, was discontinued on August 17, 1859 and moved to Georgetown.

CaminoCAMINO: The Camino Post Office, most likely named for the Spanish word for road, was established on June 22, 1904.

The community, seven miles to the east of Placerville, was at one time was known as Seven Mile House, although there was no post office by that name.

The Camino Post Office, which is still in operation, is listed as being four miles east of Smith’s Flat and two miles west of Fyffe (believed to be Sportsman’s Hall, although the distances are incorrect). The first postmaster for Camino was Margaret S. Hoff.

CAMP RICHARDSON: This summer or seasonal post office, located at the south end of Lake Tahoe, was named after the first postmaster, Alonzo L. Richardson and has a confusing history involving other post offices and name changes.

Originally, there was a post office called Lake Valley. It was officially established on September 17, 1861. However, the August 2, 1858 issue of the Sacramento Union reports a Lake Valley Post Office with Martin Smith serving as postmaster. It should be noted that this same issue of the Union listed another Tahoe basin post office, Job’s Store, with Mosses Job as postmaster and there is no official record of such a post office ever existing.

The “official” Lake Valley Post Office, which was at the location of the Pioneer Stage Line Company station known as “Yank’s Station”, was discontinued on December 26, 1863 when its name was changed to Taho, a corruption of the Washoe Indian word “tahooee” meaning “much water”, with Underhill Van Wagner as its first postmaster.

The Taho Post Office was discontinued on December 20, 1870 when its name was changed to Tallac, an Indian word meaning “large mountain”, and Ephraim “Yank” Clement designated as the postmaster. A few months later, on February 15, 1871, the name of the post office was changed back to Lake Valley.

A Tallac Post Office was reestablished, apparently at a different location, on March 12, 1875 and on November 13, 1883, moved one-half mile to the east. On March 10, 1888 the post office was moved back again, one-half mile to the west. Service at the Tallac Post Office ended on June 16, 1927 when its name was changed to Camp Richardson.

The Camp Richardson Post Office was discontinued on October 9, 1964. It was reestablished as an Independent Rural Station of Tahoe Valley on June 1, 1965 and became a Rural Branch of South Lake Tahoe on March 24, 1967. It was discontinued on January 15, 1973.

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).

Post Offices of El Dorado County, Part 2 – Starting with “A”

Al Tahoe Postmark

Al Tahoe Postmark

In El Dorado County alone there were, at one time or another, over 100 post offices with some 120 different names ranging through the alphabet from Alabaster to Zodok. Some had a very short life and some, like Coloma, the first post office in El Dorado County, continue to this day. Then there are a few, like Job’s Store, Lake Bigler and Macksville, that apparently never even existed at all, although mentioned in history books from the period. Because of this confusing information, these are often referred to as phantom post offices.

Because a majority of the early population of El Dorado County was made up of miners – a transient group if there ever was one – many post offices were established and then, moved, discontinued (closed) and even reestablished, all in a very short period of time.

If someone found gold in a different place over the mountain or up or down the river, the whole town might move overnight to the new location, always believing that there they would finally strike it rich.

In order to serve the miners, the local post office often just picked up and moved with them. If there was an existing post office at the new location, the two were combined. If none existed, the relocated post office simply reopened, sometimes changing its name and sometimes not. In fact, occasionally the name changed even when the post office didn’t move. All of this provides an interesting view of the history of El Dorado County, its post offices and the movement of its residents over the past century and a half.

ALABASTER: Named for the limestone that was mined in the area, this post office was established on March 23, 1883, having been moved to this location on the western edge of El Dorado County from Rattlesnake (Bar) in Placer County, were it was first established on November 1, 1854 with Thomas Woods as postmaster. The first postmaster at the Alabaster Post Office was William E. Donahoo.

On July 10, 1888, the post office was closed and moved to Newcastle in Placer County. Most of the Alabaster area is now part of Folsom Lake Recreation Area.

AL TAHOE: Located at the south end of Lake Tahoe, two miles west of Bijou, the name of this post office was derived from two things, the name of the lake and the diminutive of the first postmaster’s given name – Almerin R. Sprague. It was first established on August 11, 1908 and changed to a branch of the Bijou Post Office on October 12, 1963. On August 10, 1964 it was made an Independent Branch of Bijou and on March 24, 1967, after the incorporation of the City of South Lake Tahoe, it became a Station of the South Lake Tahoe Post Office.

Aukum 1899

Aukum 1899

AUKUM: This post office in the southern part of El Dorado County was established on September 23, 1895 and discontinued on August 31, 1914, the mail then being directed to the post office in the town of Uno.

On April 9, 1920 the Uno Post Office was discontinued and the mail moved back to Aukum. Because much of the mail destined for Aukum went instead to Auburn, the U. S. Post Office Department officially changed the name of this post office to its present Mt. Aukum on October 28, 1961.

The location for this town named for the nearby peak is officially listed as five miles north of Oleta, the original name of the post office at Fiddletown in Amador County. Aukum, often spelled Aurum, Oakum or Orcum, is apparently derived from a Miwok word, which may be the word Ochum, one of the names they gave their dwellings. The first postmaster at Aukum was Lydia A. Wrigglesworth (Wigglesworth?)

Aurum City 1853

Aurum City 1853

AURUM CITY: Named for the Latin word for “gold”, Aurum City was not a city at all, but a gold camp two miles to the southeast of the townsite of El Dorado. The post office at this camp that was often spelled “Auram” on maps of the time, was established on July 6, 1852 and discontinued on November 22, 1853 when it was moved to the town of El Dorado, which was also known as Mud Springs. The first postmaster at Aurum City was John S. Bostick.

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 (on microfilm and computer accessible at the El Dorado County Main Library).