Where Did That Road Name Come From? N – O

Continuing through the alphabet of common and obscure names given the local roads and streets over the past century and a half:

Nashville Trail was once a road that connected the area east of Diamond Springs to the mining community of Nashville, which was located just north of the Cosumnes River on the main road connecting the northern and southern mines (now Highway 49). Nashville was formerly known as Quartzville, Quartzburg and Tennessee Bar, before getting its present name.

Newtown Road at one time connected Placerville with the mining town of Newtown. All that is left of the town is just a few buildings, but at one time is was much more.
Newtown started with a store built by Israel Clapp. This was soon followed by another store erected by Lewis Foster, W. F. Leon’s hotel and then a butcher shop, blacksmith shops, a post office (1852), a ten-pin alley and at least one brewery. The brewery obtained its water from a spring high on a hill to the south, through a wire-wrapped, wooden pipeline ( a portion of the pipe can be seen sticking out of the north side of a cut on Fort Jim Road). By 1854 the road leading directly from Newtown to Placerville was completed and Newtown had become, as Paolo Sioli so aptly put it in his History of El Dorado County (1883) “…a full-fledged California mining town, with all its appliances, even to a dance house in the suburbs.”

North Street, or in some cases North Alley, was the name commonly given to the first street north of the main street in early townsites. As has been pointed out before, the early settlers were uncomplicated people and gave streets their logical names. A perfect example of this can be found in he early mining town of El Dorado (Mud Springs), which has a Main Street, North Street, South Street, Church Street and Cemetery Street, among others.

Oak is probably the most commonly found street name in the foothills, mostly because of the abundance of the many species of oak trees. Separately or together with other words, at least fifty streets have this name.

In the 1980s El Dorado County adopted a policy of not allowing any more street names containing oak, gold, pine and several other common words due to the possibility of causing confusion to the emergency services such as police, ambulance and fire protection.

Roads with the name “Old” in front of them usually indicate that somewhere in its history the road has been moved, usually because new earthmoving equipment became available.

Examples of this are Old Bass Lake Road, Old Carson Road, Old Green Valley Road and Old Greenwood Road, to name just a few.

One exception to this is Old Frenchtown Road, which connects Mother Lode Drive with a former bustling Gold Rush community known as Frenchtown. The road name is new, but all that is left of the town is just a few buildings near the intersection of Old Frenchtown Road and French Creek Road.
In the early years of El Dorado County’s history, Old Frenchtown Road was the major road from the immigrant trail to the town of Latrobe and was previously known as Latrobe Road.

Omo Ranch Road connects the town of Mt. Aukum with the town of Omo Ranch and, ultimately, Highway 88.

Omo Ranch is believed to be named after a Miwok Indian village that had been located on this site. The name of the village was Omo, which may or may not be an Indian word meaning “water”. Some disagree with this pointing out that Omo could have easily been someone’s name, a misspelling of the Biblical town of Ono or even an old cattle brand. Omo, even others are quick to point out, is the Latin root for the word “man”.

One Eye Creek Road is named for a creek in the Mosquito area of El Dorado County, that flowed in through One Eye Canyon and then south into the South Fork of the American River.

According to Benjamin Summerfield and John Bennett, two gentlemen who built the first sawmill along this creek in 1851 or 1852, the creek and canyon are believed to have been named for the first miner along the creek, a man who had but one eye.

The word Oro shows up in several street names, obviously because it is the Spanish word for Gold.

Outingdale Road is a dead-end road between the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River and Fairplay Road that connects Mt. Aukum Road with one of the county’s earliest subdivisions known as Outingdale.

Outingdale was originally laid out in the 1920s as a number of small lots along the south side of the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River, most of which have been since combined to meet today’s building requirements. Prior to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the developers were very successful in advertising and selling the lots in the San Francisco Bay area as vacation homesites.

Sources for this story include: “Atlas of California,” by Donley, Allan, Caro and Patton (1979); “California Gold Camps,” by Erwin Gudde (1975); “California Place Names,” by Erwin Gudde, 3rd Edition (1974); “History of El Dorado County,” by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); the Mountain Democrat, 1854-present; the Empire County Argus (Coloma), 1853-1856; the Californian (Monterey), 1846-47; the California Star (1847-48) and the Alta California (San Francisco), 1849-1850.

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