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.
SPANISH DRY DIGGINGS – This short-lived post office was established on Feb. 12, 1875 on the summit of a hill between two creeks, at a site above the Middle Fork of the American River, some five miles northwest of Georgetown and four miles north of Greenwood.
For a short period it not only served the community of Spanish Dry Diggings, but other noted mining communities such as Spanish Bar, El Dorado Slide, Dutch Bar, Rockey Chucky and Canyon Creek.
Its name came from the fact that a group of Mexican miners, under the command of General Andreas Pico, the brother of California’s last Mexican governor Pio Pico, were sent by the Mexican Government to prospect through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. They established the first gold camp at this location in 1848, giving the area its name. The first, and only postmaster was William R. Davis, since the post office was closed on Dec. 22, 1875, only ten months after its opening and the mail moved to Greenwood.
SPANISH FLAT – Located four miles northeast of the town of Kelsey, this post office was established on Nov. 21, 1853 with James Muricey serving as the first postmaster.
The mining camp at this location was originally established in 1849 by some Spanish miners, thus the name. It should be noted that the term Spanish was often applied to almost anyone from Mexico, Central and South America.
Service at this post office was discontinued on Jan. 22, 1872 and its name changed to Garden Valley (a previous Garden Valley Post Office had been established in 1852 and discontinued in 1862). Service at the Spanish Flat Post Office was reestablished on May 31, 1888 and discontinued less than six months later, on Oct. 30, 1888, when the mail was moved to Kelsey.
SPORTSMAN’S HALL – This post office was established on Oct. 10, 1865 with James Blair serving as postmaster.
Sportsman’s Hall, which has a controversial history and at times called the Eleven Mile House and Fyffe, was originally owned by a D. C. Dealy, It was he who claimed one hundred and sixty acres at this location along the Placerville-Carson Valley Road and established a ranch. The following year he sold his land and Sportsman’s Hall to John Blair, one of four brothers that had immigrated to America from Scotland and become lumbermen. John’s brother, James Blair, came west to join him about the time that silver was discovered in the Comstock Lode of Nevada (Virginia City area). Because of this discovery, the road soon became crowded with freight and passenger traffic to and from the mines, so the Blairs enlarged Sportsman’s Hall to hold 150 travellers, also adding stables for 500 horses and corrals that would hold even more.
Service at this post office, which the confusing records of the Post Office Department show as being three miles further west of Kyburz than Placerville and, at the same time, eleven miles east of Placerville, was discontinued on May 28, 1867.
STATELINE – Located nearly on the California-Nevada border at the south end of Lake Tahoe, this post office was established on June 12, 1901 with Arthur M. Hill serving as the first postmaster. On March 24, 1967, when the South Lake Tahoe Post Office was established, the Stateline Post Office became a station of it.
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).