Monthly Archives: February 2015

Where Did That Road Name Come From? – R

Rancheria Court and Drive are associated with the Shingle Springs Rancheria, a large parcel of land purchased by the government around 1920 for a group of Native Americans who at the time were residing near a place called Verona, on the Sacramento River. After sitting vacant for some time, the Rancheria is now has homes and the RedHawk Casino.

Rattlesnake Bar Road is named for early mining camps along the forks of the American River. At one of them, probably the one on the Middle Fork of the American River that is the boundary between El Dorado and Placer counties, resided one Richard H. Barter, alias “Rattlesnake Dick.” We are told he was an honest miner who was later “led astray”.

Ray Lawyer Drive, which serves the County Government Center, is named for Raymond E. Lawyer, a well liked professional forester and rancher in the Coloma area who served as a member of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors during the 1960s and 70s. Ray Lawyer passed away shortly after the new government center was dedicated in 1977 and the road was named in his honor. One outside wall of the main building at the government center is covered with rock from a quarry on his property.

Redbud Lane gets its name from the native California Redbud (Cercis occidentalis). Each spring thousands of them “bud” in a gorgeous red color, most easily seen along the freeway in the area between Shingle Springs and Cameron Park.

The word Reservoir is a common road name for the several roads that do, or did lead to a reservoir created for domestic or mining purposes.

Ricci Road, in the Greenwood area, is named for an early settler, Felix Ricci. Mr. Ricci, a cabinetmaker by trade, originally arrived in California in mid-1849, settling in Tuolumne County were he worked as a miner. In 1854 he went back to his native Italy but returned to California one year later, this time working as a storekeeper, first in American Flat and later in Greenwood. He and his wife, Eliza Delat, raised seven children in Greenwood.

The misspelled Ringold Road is found in a area just east of Diamond Springs formerly known as Ringgold. This town, the location of which still shows up on maps, was most likely named for U. S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Cadwalader Ringgold (1802-1867).

Lieutenant Commander Ringgold arrived with Lieutenant Charles Wilkes on the first U.S. exploring expedition in the Pacific in 1841. He commanded the U.S.S. Porpoise and led a survey party mapping the Sacramento River as far as Colusa, and also parts of San Francisco Bay.
There is also a Ringgold Creek, Ringgold Creek Canyon and Ringgold Ranch in El Dorado County, and a Ringgold Street in San Francisco.

Ringtail Road gets its name from a native animal, the Ring-tail (Bassariscus astutus), often called the Ringtail Cat or Miner’s Cat because the early settlers “domesticated” them to keep the rodents away from the cabins. A relative of the raccoon, it is nocturnal by nature and rarely seen. It has a drab brown body with a large bushy tail that has alternating black and white rings from which it gets its name.

Robert J. Matthews Parkway, in the El Dorado Hills Business Park, was named for the founder of Cable Data, one of the first businesses to locate there.

Rock Creek Road, one of the two roads serving the Mosquito/Swansboro area, is named for one of the major tributaries of the South Fork of the American River that it crosses, Rock Creek.

Roller Coaster Road is a name of only one road in El Dorado County, but it could easily be applied to many local roads.

Rose Springs Lane refers to the early community of Rose Springs, which is now called Rescue.

On the south side of the Overland Trail (Green Valley Road) stood the Rose Springs house which was built by one Thomas Wood as a stage station. In 1862 John William Hodgkins purchased the property and added a general store. In 1863 it passed into the hands of Alfred P. Grainer and in 1870, to Jacob Egger (Eggers?). In 1880 Egger built his residence on the 200 acre Rose Springs Ranch, across the road (north) from the original place. The Rose Springs House is said to have been a stop for the Pony Express, although there is no hard evidence to substantiate that belief.

Rubicon Drive, Road and Trail refer to the Rubicon River, a tributary of the Middle Fork of the American River that is a portion of the boundary between El Dorado and Placer counties. This, of course, is not the same Rubicon River that Gaius Julius Caesar stood in front of some 2000 years ago, faced with the choice to cross and start a war or remain bound by mediocrity, but simply a namesake.

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.

Where Did That Road Name Come From? P – Q

Tahoe’s Pacific Crest Trail is a part of a connecting group of trails that stretch from Mexico to Canada. 2650 miles in length, it takes about five months to hike the entire route.

Palmer Drive, in Cameron Park once served the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy, which had a small golf course and golf teaching facility at the northeast corner of Highway 50 and Cameron Park Drive. The Palmer House was built as a dormitory for the students and the “Blackwell’s” (now Los Pinos) building was the pro shop and offices. The Academy closed in the early 1970s due to financial problems. The golf course was let die and on the site the Goldorado Shopping Center was later constructed.

Panther Court, Panther Drive, Panther Lane and Panther Hollow Road most likely refer not to the jungle denizen, but is one of the other common names given the local mountain lion (Puma concolor), which is also often called a puma, and semi-officially, a cougar.

Park Creek Road is named for Park Creek, one of the two creeks that flow into Jenkinson Lake (Sly Park), the other being Sly Creek.

Pear Blossom Lane reminds us of the beauty (but not the aroma) of the white pear blossoms that bloom in the spring. At one time pears were the major fruit crop in western El Dorado County, until the trees became infected with what is commonly known as pear “decline” or “blight” in the 1950s (see Psylla Lane, below). Grapes, apples and in some cases, homes, have replaced the many orchards.

Peavine Ridge Road, which parallels a portion of Highway 50, was a part of the major road eastward from Placerville in the early years of the Gold Rush and probably named for the native sweet peas. It was built along the ridge line because the local natives had pointed out that building a road in the bottom of the canyon was a bad idea because the canyon was unstable and subject to landslides (did we listen?).

Pedro Hill Road, along Highway 49 north of Coloma, was once a part of the Georgetown – Sacramento Road. How Pedro Hill got its name is unsure.

Perry Creek Road is named for E. H. Perry, an early settler near Indian Diggins in the southern part of our county. The road parallels Perry Creek to the northeast of Fairplay Road, crossing it twice. Once an area known for its walnut orchards, Perry Creek Road is now an important wine grape growing area with several premium wineries.

Pinchem Creek Drive is named for the creek and ravine by that name – a name with an interesting origin. Pinchem Gut or Pinchem Tight was a community located at the junction of Pinchem Ravine and Weber Creek in the Salmon Falls area. A German shoemaker named Ebbert kept a store and saloon there and when paid in gold dust, reached in to the miners poke and took as tight a pinch as possible, thereby getting a much as he could.

The word Pine shows up in more El Dorado County streets that any other name. It refers to the many native pines found in El Dorado County, the most common being the Ponderosa, Grey and Sugar.

Pineoakyo Road is probably one of more clever road names around, if you think about it.

Pioneer Trail, at South Lake Tahoe, is just that – the original immigrant and freight trail through the valley. It was later bypassed by Highway 50, which more closely follows the shoreline of the Lake.

Pollock Avenue in Gold Ridge Forest, along with Pollock Pines, are named for Hiram Robert Pollock, his wife Anna and son Claude Earl. Hiram was an experienced lumberman from Michigan who arrived in this area around 1909. In the 1930s they would construct some summer cabins in the Cedar Grove area that became very popular with people who lived in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Later they would subdivide several parcels of land into what is now Pollock Pines.

Pony Express Trail, which connects Camino and Pollock Pines, was once the route of the short-lived Pony Express. Part of the immigrant trail through the American River canyon, it later became Highway 50 until it was replaced by the freeway in the 1960s.

Porter Ranch Road connected Mr. Porter’s ranch with Highway 193 (formerly the Placerville-Georgetown Road). Mr. Porter owned the Porter Muffler Factory on Pierroz Road in Placerville, where they made after-market mufflers that were very popular with the younger generation in the 1950s. When the factory was closed in the 1960s, the building became the County Government Center. It remained that until the new buildings were constructed at the present location on Fair Lane in the late 1970s. Emma and Ferdinand Pierroz formerly owned the property, thus the road name.

Psylla Lane, in Camino, refers to the insect by that name (Capopsylla pyricola) that transmitted the disease known as pear “decline” or “blight” which nearly wiped out the pear orchards in El Dorado County.

Puma Crossing reflects another common name for the mountain lion.

Pyrite Street refers to the very common sulfide of iron usually called iron pyrite or, more often, “fools gold”. Its presence often created fortunes for the unscrupulous.

Quail Road, Quail Court, Quail Trail, etc. honor the State Bird of California, the very common Valley Quail, with its “question mark” topknot, which has also been called the California Partridge. There is also a Mountain Quail with a straighter topknot that is less commonly seen at higher elevations.

Quarry Road connects Big Cut Road with Cedar Ravine Road. It is named for the large limestone quarry near its eastern end. In operation since the time of the Gold Rush, this quarry supplied, on behalf of the State of California, a block of limestone that was used in the construction of the Washington Monument in Washington, D. C. It replaced a block of quartz laced with gold veins that somehow disappeared.

Quercus Road refers to the Latin name for the genus of our oak trees.

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.