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. Others existed, but nobody was sure of their exact location. These were called ghost post offices. Many others, once established, continue to operate until this day.
NASHVILLE – This early post office, located a short distance north of what is now the crossing of the North Fork of the Cosumnes River by Highway 49, was established prior to March 5, 1852, the date the first postmaster, Elias DeYoung, was confirmed by the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C.
The area and the post office were named by the miners who had come from the town of that name in Tennessee. In fact, the area was also known as Tennessee Bar and Quartzite, but there was never a post office at this location with either of those names.
Service at the Nashville Post Office was discontinued on June 20, 1854 and reestablished again on May 25, 1870. It was again discontinued on Mar. 15, 1907 and the mail moved north to the El Dorado Post Office.
NEWTOWN – This post office was established on June 17, 1854 with Wilber Fisher serving as the first postmaster.
The town, which was located on the South Fork of Weber Creek, was originally named Dogtown by the miners in 1849. Believing that to be an inelegant name, the Post Office Department and the local citizens changed it to Newtown, which is often spelled Newton.
For some reason, service was discontinued on Sept. 23, 1875 and reestablished less than a month later on Oct. 18, 1875. On Dec. 31, 1912, service was again discontinued and the mail moved to the Smithflat (Smith’s Flat, Smith Flat) Post Office.
OMO RANCH – Located five and one-half miles east of Fair Play and six miles northwest of Indian Diggins, this post office was established on May 9, 1888 with William H. Frye serving as the first postmaster. The name for the post office and the town came from the name of a local Miwok Indian village.
Service was discontinued on Mar. 15, 1974 and the mail moved to the Somerset Post Office.
PACIFIC (PACIFIC HOUSE)- This post office, located 13 miles west of Slippery Fork (Kyburz) and 16 miles east of Smith’s Flat, was established on March 10, 1880 with Adam Kessebring, Jr. serving as the first postmaster. The name commemorates the Pacific House, an inn on the American River immigrant route. It was also a relay post for the Pony Express.
Service was discontinued on Nov. 15, 1893 and reestablished less than one year later on Sep. 15, 1894. On June 1, 1958, the word “House” was added, making the name of the post office Pacific House.
PARK – This relatively unknown post office was located eight miles east of Pleasant Valley. It was established on Oct. 15, 1891, with John T. Wallin serving as the first postmaster. The name probably came from the same source that named Park Creek.
On Jan. 13, 1900 the post office was moved one mile to the east, and on Oct. 31, 1907 moved two and one-half miles to the northwest. Service was discontinued on Dec. 15, 1919 and the mail moved to Placerville.
PILOT HILL- The post office at this location was established at this 1849 gold mining site on Apr. 18, 1854 with Silas Hayes serving as the first postmaster. The post office and the community get their name from the hill by that name on which fires were lit to guide early explorers and miners.
Located nine miles south of Auburn, the Pilot Hill Post Office is still in existence. It should be noted that this area was also known as Centreville, but no post office of record had that name.
PINO GRANDE – Pino Grande a lumbering site on the north side of the South Fork of the American River, almost directly across from Camino (although the Post Office Department showed the location as eleven miles north of Pacific House). The name is derived from the Spanish word for “big pine.” Lumber cut at Pino Grande was sent to mill in Camino by way of a cable which terminated on the south side at Cable Road.
The post office at this location was established on Oct. 20, 1892 with George W. Cummings serving as the first postmaster.
On Aug. 22, 1893, the post office was moved five and one-half miles to the south and on Sep. 30, 1899, service was discontinued. On Oct 14, 1902 the post office was re-established and then, on May 31, 1909, service was discontinued for the final time and the mail moved to Fyffe (often believed to be near or at Sportsman’s Hall).
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).