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.
TWIN BRIDGES – This post office eleven miles east of Kyburz was established on Oct. 1, 1947, with Mrs. Lesta H. King as its first postmaster. It was closed temporarily on Jan. 15, 1952 and reopened on Mar. 15, 1952.
The full name of the post office at this vacation and recreational resort was Twin Bridges Hotel, the name coming from the two highway bridges over Pyramid Creek, one for eastbound traffic and one for westbound traffic. Several years ago the building at this location was destroyed and the post office closed.
UNIONVILLE – The post office at this location was established on Mar. 6, 1861 with Gaston D’Artois serving as the first postmaster.
The changing of town names to various “Union” names was popular on the eve of the Civil War, and this place was no exception.
There is no location listed for this post office, yet the Post Office Department notes the town was once called Marshall and that it was on the South Fork of the American River.
Marshall, we do know, was the original name for a town that would become later known as Uniontown and then Lotus.
Neither Marshall or Uniontown had a post office, according to the same records of the Post Office Department, however, there could be some confusion between the names Unionville and Uniontown.
The Unionville Post Office would last less than a year and be discontinued on Feb. 2, 1862.
UNO – The Uno Post Office was established on Feb. 12, 1892 with Leander C. Morris serving as the first of only three postmasters: Morris (1892), Sarah Farnsworth (1892-1914) and Nancy Giles (1914-1920).
Uno was located about two miles to the southeast of Mt. Aukum on Cedar Creek, but rarely shows up on early maps, and never on those made after the 1880s. It is believed by some that the reason there is so little information on Uno is that it may also have been known as Coyoteville.
The name is believed to have come from the Spanish word for “one”, although that too is questioned by some. Apparently the only business in town was the Farnsworth store, in which the Post Office was conveniently located. Nothing remains of Uno, or for that matter, Coyoteville.
The Uno Post Office was closed on April 9, 1920 and moved to Aukum, a named that was later changed to Mt. Aukum. The Mt. Aukum Post Office is still in operation.
URBAN – The Urban Post Office was established on Aug. 28, 1909 with Eva L. Urban serving as the first postmaster. It was located five miles southwest of Pleasant Valley and seven miles northwest of Fair Play.
The interesting name for such a rural post office obviously came from the name of the first postmaster, a practice that the Post Office Department sometimes allowed, but usually frowned upon.
On Feb. 29, 1912, the Urban Post Office became known as the Pleasant Valley Post Office. On Dec. 31, 1917, the post office was discontinued and the mail moved to Placerville.
This stop on the main freight and passenger road between Sacramento and the Comstock Lode (Virginia City), later known as Highway 50, was first settled by the Phillips family in 1862.
The Phillips’ daughter, Sierra Nevada, who was six years old at the time the family settled here, grew up and became a well known businesswoman, establishing the Rubicon Mineral Springs Hotel and Resort and managing resorts at Tahoe City and Meeks Bay.
When she tried to get a post office in Phillips she was told that name was taken. Consequently, when the post office was established it was named Vade – her nickname.
On September 2, 1961, the post office was moved three miles east and renamed Little Norway, a post office that has now closed.
Phillips, also casually known as Pow Wow, after the restaurant and gas station located there (“Eat at Pow Wow and get gas” the sign said for years), is the location of Sierra at Tahoe (formerly Sierra Ski Ranch).
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).