Monthly Archives: January 2013

Community Profiles – Nashville

Bridge at Yeomet - 1850s

Bridge at Yeomet – 1850s

About nine miles south of the town of El Dorado is the town of Nashville, which for a time was known as Quartzville, Quartzburg and even Tennessee Bar. It is the one still remaining of a group of towns that existed near the Cosumnes River along the main road running between the northern mines and the southern mines (now Highway 49).

These towns, Nashville, Pittsburg Bar and Yeomet (which was also known as Saratoga, Yornet and Huse Bridge) were small communities located on flat pieces of land downstream from the confluence of the Middle and South Forks of the Cosumnes River.

The northern towns, Nashville and Pittsburg Bar were originally mining locations, while Yeomet, on the Cosumnes River, was the only nearby place where there was a ferry, and later a bridge, to cross the river.

A. L. Chilton arrived in Nashville in 1851 and immediately constructed a store and boarding house. Soon another store was opened by a Dr. Thurston and his brother Joel, who after a number of years, would move north to the town of El Dorado.

The Nashville School District was organized on October 5, 1869. The school building was located along the Cosumnes River, near what is now Highway 49. The school was closed in 1953 when it merged with the El Dorado School and later the Mother Lode Union School District.

The Nashville post office was established prior to March 5, 1852, with Elias DeYoung as Postmaster. On June 20, 1854, it was closed and less than a month later, on July 14, 1854, one was opened at Yeomet, which the Post Office renamed Yornet, the local Indian word for waterfalls or sounding rock.

Eustace P. Bowman was the first Postmaster at Yornet and served until the Post Office was closed and moved south to Jackson on June 8, 1861.
One would wonder why a Post Office in El Dorado County would be moved to an Amador County town. The answer is simple, Yeomet was part of El Dorado until the boundary was moved north from Dry Creek to the Cosumnes River and Amador county was created.

In 1854 that the State Legislature realized that people living between the Cosumnes and Mokelumne rivers were not being taxed by either El Dorado or Calaveras county. Apparently the separation from the two county seats was too far to make it convenient to collect taxes, or too difficult because of the necessary river crossings. They realized that this problem wasn’t going to go away so that year they formed a new county from portions of El Dorado and Calaveras counties.

Community Profiles – Murderer’s Bar

Murderers-Bar-1850-e1314658488495Among the names given to the mining camps of early California, none is more accurately descriptive than the one given a camp on the Middle Fork of the American River – a camp named “Murderer’s Bar.”

Although it sometimes shows up on maps at different locations, we do know it was some three or four miles up river from the Middle Fork and North Fork junction and a couple of miles downstream from Spanish Flat and Spanish Dry Diggings. We also know how it came to get this name.

The Middle Fork of the American River was one of the richest mining regions in California and it was estimated that at least ten thousand men were working there by the fall of 1849. During that time this army of miners extracted some 10 million dollars in gold from its gravel. Unfortunately, among the many hard working miners that came here, were a few who were less than honorable.

In the summer of 1848, a group of sailors arrived at Sutter’s Fort with a considerable quantity of gold dust. Among the men at the fort was a J. D. Hoppe, who was acquainted with the sailors and to whom they disclosed the source of their gold: the Middle Fork of the American River.

Mr. Hoppe engaged a group of seven men, one being Thomas M. Buckner, a former resident of Kentucky and Oregon who had arrived in California shortly after hearing of the gold discovery. The eight set out for what they called “Sailor’s Diggings,” where they discovered good quantities of gold.

Because they knew little about the area, they believed the trapper’s tales that is was impossible to over-winter in the Sierra Nevada. So, when the rains came they left.
Buckner decided to spend the winter in the hills behind Oakland, making redwood shakes and pickets. It was there he met Capt. Ezekiel Merritt, who had been very involved in the Bear Flag revolt at Sonoma in 1846.

In April of 1849 the two, accompanied by an Indian boy called Peg, set out in the direction of Sailor’s Diggings. Crossing the South Fork of the American River a few miles west of Coloma, and then proceeding up over the divide and down into the canyon of the Middle Fork, they came upon a waterfall and attempted to mine the large hole it had made in the riverbed.

Not having much success, and surprised that they had not seen any other white men but many signs of Indians, they carefully proceeded down river to the head of a large bar on the south, or El Dorado County side of the river.

With Capt. Merritt in the lead, the party rounded some rocks where they were startled to find evidence of a plundered camp, the hair (scalps?) of both white men and Indians and a large pile of ashes that contained burned bones.

Community Profiles – Mud Springs (El Dorado)

Mud Springs to El Dorado

Official change of name, Mud Springs to El Dorado

Although the townsite of El Dorado was one of the first mining camps in El Dorado county, it was not always known by this very appropriate name. Up until late 1855, some six years after the first miners coaxed golden nuggets from the streambeds in this area, the town was known simply as Mud Springs.

No, the area did not have natural mud springs, the name was chosen because the thousands of immigrants traveling through on their way westward and southward watered their livestock at the once clear springs that flowed here, muddying the surrounding land and the water itself.

To distinguish these springs from those much clearer, two miles further up the immigrant trail at Diamond Springs, the location was called Mud Springs and the name stuck. Although quite picturesque and descriptive, as were many of California’s early town names, the name of Mud Springs soon fell before the sweep of “civilization” and was changed to the Spanish word for “The Gilded One” – El Dorado.

The word of the rich rewards that were being taken from the ground nearby soon spread, and in just a couple of years mining had expanded from simply working the rich placer claims to digging for gold often found hiding in quite shallow veins of quartz.

By the year 1851 there were some 500 laborers employed in the mines and mills near Mud Springs and we’re told that all night and day you could not help but hear the continuous clatter of the seven steam mills located on Matheney’s and Logtown creeks, noisily freeing gold from quartz.

Community Profiles – Mt. Aukum

Aukum Post Mark 1899

Neatly divided by Mt. Aukum Road (County Road E-16), and lying just north of the Amador – El Dorado County, line is the town of Mt. Aukum.

This has not always been the name of this town, at times it may also have been known as Aurum, Oakum, Orcum, Ockum, and once even as Mt. Auburn. If fact, the mountain from which the town gets its name rarely shows up as Mt. Aukum on maps, but usually as Mt. Orcum or Mt. Aurum (it is the mountain with a microwave/radio relay station and Mount Aukum Winery, atop its 2615 foot summit).

No one knows for sure the origin of the name, which may be why it changed so often. Some believe it may have been a Miwok word, Ochum, which we are told meant village. But then, some also put forth the idea that it was named by some sailors after the tarred rope called oakum, often used to calk the planking of early sailing ships. However, in 1961 the U. S. Post Office solved the problem for everyone by officially changing the name of the town from Aukum to Mt. Aukum, mainly because the Aukum mail was getting mixed in with the mail bound for Auburn.

Unlike most of the other towns in the region, Mt. Aukum was not really known as a mining town, but more as a farming and ranching area. Hay and grain were widely grown around Mt. Aukum, and raising beef cattle was a big business. That is not to say that mining did not occur in the area. The many streams and creeks, along with the South Fork of the Cosumnes River, gave up fair amounts of gold to those willing to work for it.