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.
FYFFE: This post office was established on either July 24, 1882 or Aug. 16, 1882, depending on the source of the information. It was named after the operator of this summer resort located six miles south of Pacific (House) and nine and one-half miles east of Smith’s Flat. Oswald Hardie was appointed as its first postmaster.
Service was discontinued on Oct. 31, 1913 and the mail moved to Camino. Some records indicate that a Fyffe owned Sportsman’s Hall at one time and confuse this post office with the one at Sportsman’s Hall, which only existed for a short period during the 1860s.
GARDEN VALLEY: The Garden Valley Post Office was established on Dec. 16, 1852, with Thomas McConnell serving as the first postmaster.
The town was often called Johnstown, but the Post Office Department decided to use the name Garden Valley because of the number of vegetable farms that had been established in this fertile valley four miles south of Georgetown and ten miles north of Placerville.
On Dec. 20, 1853, the post office at Garden Valley was discontinued, but then reestablished less than one year later on Dec. 4, 1854. It was then discontinued on June 4, 1862 and reestablished again one decade later, on Jan. 22, 1872. It was again discontinued on Oct. 31, 1895 and reestablished just a few months later, on Jan. 27, 1896. The post office was then moved one-quarter mile to the northwest on Feb. 1, 1940.
In spite of its open and closed history, it is still in operation.
GEORGETOWN: Unlike the opening and closing Garden Valley Post Office four miles to the south, the Georgetown Post Office opened prior to Oct. 17, 1851, the date its first postmaster, William T. Gibbs, was confirmed by the Post Office Department in Washington D.C., and has simply remained open ever since.
Georgetown, which is located some twenty miles east of Auburn and fourteen miles north of Placerville, was named after either George Ehrenhaft or George Phipps, both of whom settled there in 1849.
The town, which was at the western end of an alternate immigration route that connected with the main route in the American River Canyon, burned down more than once and was even moved to its present location on high ground from a canyon to the south as a protection against fire.
GLEN ALPINE: This post office was named for a vacation resort at the south end of Fallen Leaf Lake, six miles to the southwest of Camp Richardson. It was established on June 23, 1904 with Susan G. Pierce serving as the first postmaster.
On Sep. 14, 1918, service was discontinued and then reestablished on Sept. 13, 1929, with the post office becoming a Summer Post Office. The Glen Alpine Post Office did not open during the 1938, 1943, 1944 and 1945 seasons and service was ultimately discontinued on Sept. 10, 1947, with the mail being moved to the Camp Richardson Summer Post Office.
GOLDEN: This aptly named but short-lived post office was located sixteen miles to the northeast of Placerville. It was established on Oct. 13, 1923 with Miss Callie L. Golden, after whom the post office was named, serving as its first postmaster. The post office was discontinued on Apr. 30, 1926 and the mail moved to Placerville.
For the benefit of the geographers amongst you, the Golden Post Office was located in the SE 1/4 of Section 31, Township 12 North, Range 12 East, M.D.M.
GRANITE HILL: As mining waned and the population of the gold rush town of Cold Spring (s) left, the post office was moved to the southeast, near a landmark known as Granite Hill and given that name. This event occurred on June 11, 1874 and William P. Vernon became the first postmaster of the renamed post office.
On February 29, 1908 service at the Granite Hill Post Office was discontinued and the mail moved five miles north to 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).