Road Names of El Dorado County

Where Did That Road Name Come From? – S (Part 1)

Sacramento Street, a portion of which is now Highway 49 between Placerville and Diamond Springs, was at one time the only reasonable way to get from Placerville to Sacramento. In Diamond Springs it connected with the road commonly known as the Carson Immigrant Trail (now Pleasant Valley Road), the western end of which was Sacramento.

In some journals are found notes that it took a whole day to drive a team and wagon between Placerville and Diamond Springs, due to the steepness of Weber Creek Canyon. According to the same journals, it didn’t take much longer than that to complete the downhill trip from Diamond Springs to Sacramento.

Sage Court and Drive, refer to the very common native sage (Salvia columbariae) also known as chia. It blooms from March – June in dry, open, disturbed places. In other places the seed of this plant was gathered by the Pomo Indians who roasted and ground it into a meal called “pinole”, which they baked into small, nutty flavored cakes or loaves.

A short distance from where Salmon Falls Road crosses the South Fork of the American River, was its namesake, the early mining town of Salmon Falls. This town and the road, derive their name from the falls on the American River to where the Indians came down from the mountains to catch the abundant salmon that were stopped from going further upriver by the falls. The town and the salmon are no longer there as a result of the construction of Folsom Dam, but the name remains a part of our history as the name of a road, a bridge and a residential community.

Sand Ridge Road, which connects the town of Somerset (Buck’s Bar Road) with the early mining town of Nashville (Highway 49) is named for the sandy quality of the decomposed granite over which it crosses. The County’s quarry for the sand used on the roads during the winter is near the eastern end of this road.

Sasquatch Ridge Lane refers to the rarely seen and always poorly photographed cousin to the Yeti of the Himalayas, our own Bigfoot or Sasquatch. Recently there have been fewer and fewer sightings. Perhaps the Sasquatch should be put on the “rare and endangered” list and land be set aside as a “Sasquatch Preserve.”

Schnell School Road honors Louisiana Elizabeth “Pete” Schnell who taught school in Placerville for thirty-five years, starting with a job at Placerville Grammar School. Later she was the principal of Sierra Elementary School until her retirement in 1966. She passed away in 1985. The students of Schnell School, which is on Schnell School Road, wrote and published a wonderful book in her honor which is available in bookstores and at the library.

Scotch Broom Road is named for the European plant by that name (Cytisus scoparius) which was imported during or just after the Gold Rush. Also known as broomtops, common broom, European broom, Irish broom and English broom, it is on the noxious weed list in a number of eastern and western states, Hawaii and even Canada. It is a showy, bright yellow addition to the foothill roadsides when in bloom, but has become a serious pest in the forest and on range and other agricultural lands.

Naturalized in many areas it now occupies tens of thousands of acres of land and is continually expanding onto other lands. It is often spread along highways from the seeds picked up by the tires of roadway maintenance equipment.

Sequoia Court and Lane refer to the two redwoods growing in California, the Big Tree and Coast Redwood. The Big Tree or Giant Sequoia (Sequoia gigantea), a living fossil, is found in seven isolated groves from Placer to Tulare County, with most of the trees in the southern groves. The taller, younger and not as massive Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), occurs in many large groves on the northern coast of California.

The name sequoia is believed by some to come from Sequoyah, a Cherokee who lived from 1770-1843, and who is credited with inventing the Cherokee syllabary or written language. The seeds of both these trees have been exported and specimens are growing in countries around the world.

Shingle Lime Mine Road provided access to an underground limestone mine located south of Cameron Park. The mine and limestone processing plant were owned by El Dorado Limestone Company and operated for many years. After mining ceased, the plant continued to process limestone that was trucked in from an open-pit limestone mine in Marble Valley. That quarry is also closed.

There are a number of streets in El Dorado County that contain the name Sherman. These probably refer to William Tecumseh Sherman, who was an aide to Generals Kearney and Mason during the Mexican War and reported on the discovery of gold at Coloma. In 1850 he left California, but came back in 1853 as a civilian, working as a bank manager, attorney and educator. In 1857 he again left and ultimately became a well-know Union general in the Civil War. Later he returned to California and took a position as a vice president for the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad.

Sliger Mine Road gets its name from the Sliger Quartz Claim, which was located northwest of Greenwood, near the town of Spanish Dry Diggings. The Claim, which was believed by some to be of the richest of its type in the County and possibly the State, was originally worked by a group of gentlemen named Hunter, Wade, Roush, Simpers, Hines and Grinnel.

Slodusty Road, like many in el Dorado County, is just what it says.

Slug Gulch Road is not named for the often seen “banana slugs” that reside in our County. The term “slug” refers to the large gold nuggets that were found in Slug Gulch, often the size of a man’s thumb. In the early days of California the very large $50 gold piece was also called a “slug.”

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? – R

Rancheria Court and Drive are associated with the Shingle Springs Rancheria, a large parcel of land purchased by the government around 1920 for a group of Native Americans who at the time were residing near a place called Verona, on the Sacramento River. After sitting vacant for some time, the Rancheria is now has homes and the RedHawk Casino.

Rattlesnake Bar Road is named for early mining camps along the forks of the American River. At one of them, probably the one on the Middle Fork of the American River that is the boundary between El Dorado and Placer counties, resided one Richard H. Barter, alias “Rattlesnake Dick.” We are told he was an honest miner who was later “led astray”.

Ray Lawyer Drive, which serves the County Government Center, is named for Raymond E. Lawyer, a well liked professional forester and rancher in the Coloma area who served as a member of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors during the 1960s and 70s. Ray Lawyer passed away shortly after the new government center was dedicated in 1977 and the road was named in his honor. One outside wall of the main building at the government center is covered with rock from a quarry on his property.

Redbud Lane gets its name from the native California Redbud (Cercis occidentalis). Each spring thousands of them “bud” in a gorgeous red color, most easily seen along the freeway in the area between Shingle Springs and Cameron Park.

The word Reservoir is a common road name for the several roads that do, or did lead to a reservoir created for domestic or mining purposes.

Ricci Road, in the Greenwood area, is named for an early settler, Felix Ricci. Mr. Ricci, a cabinetmaker by trade, originally arrived in California in mid-1849, settling in Tuolumne County were he worked as a miner. In 1854 he went back to his native Italy but returned to California one year later, this time working as a storekeeper, first in American Flat and later in Greenwood. He and his wife, Eliza Delat, raised seven children in Greenwood.

The misspelled Ringold Road is found in a area just east of Diamond Springs formerly known as Ringgold. This town, the location of which still shows up on maps, was most likely named for U. S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Cadwalader Ringgold (1802-1867).

Lieutenant Commander Ringgold arrived with Lieutenant Charles Wilkes on the first U.S. exploring expedition in the Pacific in 1841. He commanded the U.S.S. Porpoise and led a survey party mapping the Sacramento River as far as Colusa, and also parts of San Francisco Bay.
There is also a Ringgold Creek, Ringgold Creek Canyon and Ringgold Ranch in El Dorado County, and a Ringgold Street in San Francisco.

Ringtail Road gets its name from a native animal, the Ring-tail (Bassariscus astutus), often called the Ringtail Cat or Miner’s Cat because the early settlers “domesticated” them to keep the rodents away from the cabins. A relative of the raccoon, it is nocturnal by nature and rarely seen. It has a drab brown body with a large bushy tail that has alternating black and white rings from which it gets its name.

Robert J. Matthews Parkway, in the El Dorado Hills Business Park, was named for the founder of Cable Data, one of the first businesses to locate there.

Rock Creek Road, one of the two roads serving the Mosquito/Swansboro area, is named for one of the major tributaries of the South Fork of the American River that it crosses, Rock Creek.

Roller Coaster Road is a name of only one road in El Dorado County, but it could easily be applied to many local roads.

Rose Springs Lane refers to the early community of Rose Springs, which is now called Rescue.

On the south side of the Overland Trail (Green Valley Road) stood the Rose Springs house which was built by one Thomas Wood as a stage station. In 1862 John William Hodgkins purchased the property and added a general store. In 1863 it passed into the hands of Alfred P. Grainer and in 1870, to Jacob Egger (Eggers?). In 1880 Egger built his residence on the 200 acre Rose Springs Ranch, across the road (north) from the original place. The Rose Springs House is said to have been a stop for the Pony Express, although there is no hard evidence to substantiate that belief.

Rubicon Drive, Road and Trail refer to the Rubicon River, a tributary of the Middle Fork of the American River that is a portion of the boundary between El Dorado and Placer counties. This, of course, is not the same Rubicon River that Gaius Julius Caesar stood in front of some 2000 years ago, faced with the choice to cross and start a war or remain bound by mediocrity, but simply a namesake.

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? P – Q

Tahoe’s Pacific Crest Trail is a part of a connecting group of trails that stretch from Mexico to Canada. 2650 miles in length, it takes about five months to hike the entire route.

Palmer Drive, in Cameron Park once served the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy, which had a small golf course and golf teaching facility at the northeast corner of Highway 50 and Cameron Park Drive. The Palmer House was built as a dormitory for the students and the “Blackwell’s” (now Los Pinos) building was the pro shop and offices. The Academy closed in the early 1970s due to financial problems. The golf course was let die and on the site the Goldorado Shopping Center was later constructed.

Panther Court, Panther Drive, Panther Lane and Panther Hollow Road most likely refer not to the jungle denizen, but is one of the other common names given the local mountain lion (Puma concolor), which is also often called a puma, and semi-officially, a cougar.

Park Creek Road is named for Park Creek, one of the two creeks that flow into Jenkinson Lake (Sly Park), the other being Sly Creek.

Pear Blossom Lane reminds us of the beauty (but not the aroma) of the white pear blossoms that bloom in the spring. At one time pears were the major fruit crop in western El Dorado County, until the trees became infected with what is commonly known as pear “decline” or “blight” in the 1950s (see Psylla Lane, below). Grapes, apples and in some cases, homes, have replaced the many orchards.

Peavine Ridge Road, which parallels a portion of Highway 50, was a part of the major road eastward from Placerville in the early years of the Gold Rush and probably named for the native sweet peas. It was built along the ridge line because the local natives had pointed out that building a road in the bottom of the canyon was a bad idea because the canyon was unstable and subject to landslides (did we listen?).

Pedro Hill Road, along Highway 49 north of Coloma, was once a part of the Georgetown – Sacramento Road. How Pedro Hill got its name is unsure.

Perry Creek Road is named for E. H. Perry, an early settler near Indian Diggins in the southern part of our county. The road parallels Perry Creek to the northeast of Fairplay Road, crossing it twice. Once an area known for its walnut orchards, Perry Creek Road is now an important wine grape growing area with several premium wineries.

Pinchem Creek Drive is named for the creek and ravine by that name – a name with an interesting origin. Pinchem Gut or Pinchem Tight was a community located at the junction of Pinchem Ravine and Weber Creek in the Salmon Falls area. A German shoemaker named Ebbert kept a store and saloon there and when paid in gold dust, reached in to the miners poke and took as tight a pinch as possible, thereby getting a much as he could.

The word Pine shows up in more El Dorado County streets that any other name. It refers to the many native pines found in El Dorado County, the most common being the Ponderosa, Grey and Sugar.

Pineoakyo Road is probably one of more clever road names around, if you think about it.

Pioneer Trail, at South Lake Tahoe, is just that – the original immigrant and freight trail through the valley. It was later bypassed by Highway 50, which more closely follows the shoreline of the Lake.

Pollock Avenue in Gold Ridge Forest, along with Pollock Pines, are named for Hiram Robert Pollock, his wife Anna and son Claude Earl. Hiram was an experienced lumberman from Michigan who arrived in this area around 1909. In the 1930s they would construct some summer cabins in the Cedar Grove area that became very popular with people who lived in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Later they would subdivide several parcels of land into what is now Pollock Pines.

Pony Express Trail, which connects Camino and Pollock Pines, was once the route of the short-lived Pony Express. Part of the immigrant trail through the American River canyon, it later became Highway 50 until it was replaced by the freeway in the 1960s.

Porter Ranch Road connected Mr. Porter’s ranch with Highway 193 (formerly the Placerville-Georgetown Road). Mr. Porter owned the Porter Muffler Factory on Pierroz Road in Placerville, where they made after-market mufflers that were very popular with the younger generation in the 1950s. When the factory was closed in the 1960s, the building became the County Government Center. It remained that until the new buildings were constructed at the present location on Fair Lane in the late 1970s. Emma and Ferdinand Pierroz formerly owned the property, thus the road name.

Psylla Lane, in Camino, refers to the insect by that name (Capopsylla pyricola) that transmitted the disease known as pear “decline” or “blight” which nearly wiped out the pear orchards in El Dorado County.

Puma Crossing reflects another common name for the mountain lion.

Pyrite Street refers to the very common sulfide of iron usually called iron pyrite or, more often, “fools gold”. Its presence often created fortunes for the unscrupulous.

Quail Road, Quail Court, Quail Trail, etc. honor the State Bird of California, the very common Valley Quail, with its “question mark” topknot, which has also been called the California Partridge. There is also a Mountain Quail with a straighter topknot that is less commonly seen at higher elevations.

Quarry Road connects Big Cut Road with Cedar Ravine Road. It is named for the large limestone quarry near its eastern end. In operation since the time of the Gold Rush, this quarry supplied, on behalf of the State of California, a block of limestone that was used in the construction of the Washington Monument in Washington, D. C. It replaced a block of quartz laced with gold veins that somehow disappeared.

Quercus Road refers to the Latin name for the genus of our oak trees.

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? 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.