Monthly Archives: December 2014

Where Did That Road Name Come From? C – E

Continuing with some common and obscure names given the local roads and streets over the past century and a half:

Cable Road, in Camino, has its northern termination where T. H. McEwan built the famous cable tramway across the canyon of the South Fork of the American River. Over this tramway was transported the lumber from a mill at Pino Grande to Camino.

Caldor Road, east of Somerset, is named for a mill town built by the California Door Company. From there the Diamond & Caldor Railway carried rough lumber to the planing mills in Diamond Springs.

Carson Road, Carson Creek and Carson Canyon are likely named for the famous early explorer, Kit Carson, a scout for another famous explorer, John C. Fremont. His brother, Bob Carson, was a resident of this county and once owned a major portion of Buck’s Bar Road.

Placerville’s Center Street, or Centre Street, was so called because it divided a portion of the city. At one time, it was called Maiden Lane, because of type of businesses located there. It is now Stagecoach Alley, in honor of Davey “Doc” Weiser, who on holidays gives free rides to the public in his stagecoach.

The many Cemetery and Church streets throughout the county were named for the churches and cemeteries to which they led.
Most early towns had a Main Street, a North Street and South Street (or East and West streets), a School Street, a Church Street and a Cemetery Street.

Church Mine Road, south of the town of El Dorado, is named because it led not to a church but to a very rich mine by that name.
The Church Mine, and nearby Union Mine would later be consolidated into the Springfield mine, where there would be installed a forty stamp, water powered mill that was reported to have been not only heard but felt a great distance away.

Coloma Road is one of the typical early roads that indicated it was a main road leading to another community.
Usually roads such as this would be hyphenated to something like Placerville-Coloma Road. From the other end at Coloma, it would be known as Coloma-Placerville Road. Examples of this naming system can be found throughout California and the rest of the country.

D’Agostini Drive, near Mt. Aukum, is named for the D’Agostini family that settled there in the 1800s. For a while part of the family raised turkeys, across Mt. Aukum Road from D’Agostini’s Lake. Just as a note, there is another D’Agostini family that settled in the Shenandoah Valley portion of Amador County and owned D’Agostini Winery.

Darn Steep Road, another interestingly named road in our county, is exactly that.

Davidson Road, may be named after Thomas Davidson, an early settler who once owned a dwelling in Diamond Springs that was destroyed in the fire of 1856. He unsuccessfully ran for District Attorney in 1876.

Digger Pine Road, which exists in both Deer Park and Rescue, was named after the very common, grey-green pine tree that grows in the dryer parts of El Dorado County, usually below 3000 feet. The nuts from this pine were part of the diet of the Native Americans, who were called “diggers” by the first white settlers, after their habit of digging for roots and bulbs. The tree is now called a Grey or Bull Pine, since the word Digger has become politically incorrect.

Dogwood Lane, which exists in at least four parts of our county is named for the Dogwood tree that majestically blooms in the early spring. Winter “officially” ends in El Dorado County when it snows on the open dogwood blossoms – just ask any old-timer.

Durock Road, in the Shingle Springs and Cameron Park area was once a part of the Carson – Immigrant Road and later Highway 50. It is probably a phonetic spelling for DuRoc, the name of a family that owned an early inn along this road. There is a plaque on the road at the site of the inn. There is also a metro station in Paris named DuRoc.

Easterly Road, in Diamond Springs, is named for Lon Easterly, a developer in this area (There is also a Lon Court nearby).

Eight Mile Road, near Camino is named for the Eight Mile House, an early stop for immigrants, freight wagons and travelers along what is now Highway 50.

Empire Creek Trail and Circle, along with the Empire Mine, Mill, Ravine and Theater, are named for Empire County, an early nickname for El Dorado County. If fact, one of the early newspapers in Coloma was the Empire County Argus.

Eureka, as in Eureka Street, is from the Latin word meaning “I have found it.” It is the motto of the State of California.

Excelsior Road and Court, near Big Cut Road, south of Placerville, are named for the Excelsior Mine which was formerly known as Coon Hollow, one of the most prosperous mining camps in California.

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); “Mother Lode of Learning – One Room Schools of El Dorado County,” by the Retired Teachers Association of El Dorado County (1990); “I Remember…, Stories and pictures of El Dorado County pioneer families,” researched and written by Betty Yohalem (1977); “History of El Dorado County,” by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998) and numerous early California newspapers.

Where Did That Road Name Come From? A – B

In their names, many of the streets, avenues and alleys of El Dorado County retain the flavor of the early years of California. These names record forever people, places and even events in our history.

A number of the streets have obvious names that indicate the communities or places that they connect. In other cases, some of the private, and even public, roads that have been named more recently have nothing to do with much of anything and even show a bit of humor, such as the names “Costalotta” and “Pineoakyo.”
Here are a number of our common and obscure street names and their origins:

A & A Road (or alley) is a small piece of what appears to be old State Highway between Placerville Drive and Green Valley Road in Placerville. Records show that in our less politically correct days, it was actually named Amos and Andy Road.

Argonaut Drive, in Diamond Springs, is named for the early gold seekers, who were called Argonauts after the famous myth of Jason, the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece.

Bacchi Road is named for the Bacchi family, a very early ranching family that still runs cattle on large spreads of land in the Coloma area, where this road is located.

Bee Street, in Placerville, is named for Frederick A. Bee, who owned much of the land to the east of the high school.
His Victorian house on that street was the Elk’s Lodge for many years and has now been restored as the Sequoia Restaurant.
Colonel Bee, as he was known, pioneered the telegraph from Placerville east over the Sierra Nevada. Badly sagging from pole to pole and tree to tree, it was often called Bee’s grapevine. It is believed to be the origin of the quote, “Heard it through the grapevine.”

Bassi Road gets its name from an early dairyman and rancher from Valle, Switzerland named G. Bassi. He had a large land holding on the South Fork of the American River, where he and his wife Virginia (Forni) Bassi kept their large herds of dairy cattle and raised their children.

Big Cut Road, south of Placerville, is named for the large cut in the hill made by miners using the hydraulic mining process. It is still quite visible and was a landmark of Placerville in the early part of the 20th century.

Big Oak Road, east of Diamond Springs, was named for the large, centuries old Canyon Live, Maul or Golden Cup Oak tree (Quercus chrysolepis) that stood on the south side of that road. At one time it was thought to be the largest of its species in California, which turned out to be untrue when a few other, larger examples were found. Unfortunately, it fell down about two decades ago. Fortunately, a cross-section slab of it is now at the County Museum.

Bigler Avenue, at South Lake Tahoe, is named for John Bigler, an early Governor of California after whom the lake now known as Lake Tahoe was once named.
He headed an early rescue party into the Sierra Nevada and was honored by having the lake named after him.
It wasn’t until 1945 that someone discovered that although the lake was shown on most maps as Lake Tahoe, it was still officially named Lake Bigler.

Blair Road and Blair Mill Road, in the Camino/Pollock Pines area get their names from some very early settlers in El Dorado County, John and James Blair, two of four brothers who immigrated to America from Scotland in the 1850s. Under the name of J. and J. Logging and Lumber Company, the two owned and operated a lumber mill near Sly Park. For a while the were also the owners of Sportsman’s Hall. The family had a lumber yard in Placerville into the 1970s.

Brandon Road, south of Shingle Springs, is named for Zar P. Brandon, who was born in Ohio, first moved to Wisconsin and then, in 1850, to California where he engaged in mining. In 1851 he returned to Wisconsin and a year later came back with his family, establishing a 320 acre farm on Indian Creek.

Buckeye Road, Buckeye Lake Road and Buckeye Court, get their name from the very common California Buckeye (Aesculus californica), a tree that flowers early in the year, fruits and then, to protect itself from dehydration, drops its leaves in summer. It often ends up looking somewhat like a dead pear tree, due to the shape of the drying fruit. All parts of the tree are toxic to humans and many animals.

Bullion Bend Road, east of Pollock Pines, is an extension of Pony Express Trail named for the horseshoe bend in this early immigrant road where a famous robbery took place on the night of June 30, 1864.

At the Somerset House, many miles away, several of the robbers and Deputy Sheriff Joseph M. Staples would confront each other and Staples would become the first Deputy Sheriff of El Dorado County killed in the line of duty.

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); “Mother Lode of Learning – One Room Schools of El Dorado County,” by the Retired Teachers Association of El Dorado County (1990); “I Remember…, Stories and pictures of El Dorado County pioneer families,” researched and written by Betty Yohalem (1977); “History of El Dorado County,” by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998) and numerous early California newspapers.

Steppin’ Out – The German Deli (Sacramento)

German DeliA few weeks ago my friend Russ Salazar sent me an email that said a friend of his told him of a great German deli that he thought was located on Auburn Blvd., in Sacramento, where Fair Oaks Blvd. ended.

I called my daughter in Carmichael to see if she knew about such a place, but as she didn’t (she actually did, only I gave her the wrong streets), I started a computer search.
While searching I came across several notes on a German deli at the intersection of Manzanita Ave. and Auburn Blvd.

I got back to Russ and pointed out that when Fair Oaks Blvd. turns east in Carmichael, its continuation is Manzanita Ave. Therefore, I believed this was the spot. Now armed with a location, we started out on a Friday about noon to visit the place.

I have to tell you that Russ spent a lot of time working in Sacramento, but almost entirely downtown. I know a bit about the streets in and around greater Sacramento, but not as much as I thought.

On our way west on Highway 50, we decided it might be easiest to take Hazel Blvd. north to Madison or Greenback and then head west. Madison, I found out later, crosses Manzanita, but Greenback meets Auburn Blvd. north of Manzanita. Guess what, I told Russ to take Greenback since there would be less traffic.

Well, we reached Auburn Blvd. and turned not south, as we should, but north. Finally we turned around a found the place.

The German Deli is both a store and a mostly to-go restaurant. There are two tables with maybe six chairs, but you could always eat in your car out front.
It has been at this location for some 50 years, but the present owners have only had it for seven or eight.

Alyson Smith, who is the general manager and part owner with her father, told us that her father loved this place. When he found out that Bavarian born Elizabeth Gibson, the founder, was going to close it, he came home and said, “I think I am going to buy it.” A short time later he came home and announced “I bought it.”

Russ and I looked over the menu on the wall and after asking lots of questions and sampling several meats (they are very knowledgeable and generously let you taste), we decided on a hot pastrami on German sourdough rye and liverwurst (braunschweiger) on a sandwich roll. We also ordered a side of their sauerkraut (they buy it and then do wonderful things to it).

Steppin’ Out – Plaza Jalisco: Grill Mexican Restaurant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had been driving by this new restaurant at 384 Placerville Drive (near Sears) for a couple of months, planning to put it on my list (I like to give them a chance to get things together). Then I received an email from Russ Salazar with a list of places he would like to try. Right at the top was this place, so we decided to meet there around 12:30 the next Thursday.

This is not the only restaurant in this group as there are two others, one in the Roseville area and one in Grass Valley. So, I figured, they must know what they are doing. And, I was right.
I anxiously arrived about 12:20 that day and was surprised that there were only a few customers in the restaurant. Russ arrived about 15 minutes late (He knew it was near Sears, but didn’t know the location of Sears). Strangely, by that time the restaurant had become about half full.

We walked through the door and the first thing I noticed was how very clean it was. Immediately we were graciously seated at one of the tables, the booths all being occupied by smiling diners who obviously knew the location of Sears and beat us there. But, that was okay, since we are both pretty big guys and booths are not always that comfortable.

Russ’ test for a Mexican restaurant is chile verde, while mine is a chile relleno, so I figured that would be what we ordered. But then Russ looked across the table at me and said, “What a fantastic menu.” He was right, it is a large menu with beautiful color pictures of their dishes.

As I looked for the chile relleno and chile verde, Russ said, “Look at this Molcajete, I think we need to order that.”

Now, this is a real Mexican dish. A large heated lava rock bowl or mortar (molcajete in Spanish) filled with grilled beef, chicken, shrimp, mild peppers and more in a delicious chorizo based sauce, and served with rice, beans and tortillas.

I said, “Why not,” but not realizing how big it would be, added chicken tortilla soup to our order. We asked for two plates to split the molcajete and small bowls so we could split the soup.