Where Did That Road Name Come From? U – V

Union Mine Road is an early County road that provided access to and from at least two large mines near Martinez Creek, to the south of the town of El Dorado (Mud Springs).

Originally named the Church and Union mines, they were later consolidated under the name Springfield Mine. Towards the end of the 1880s a forty stamp, water powered mill was erected to process the gold bearing quartz from the mines – a mill that was reported to have been not only heard but felt a great distance away. After mining ceased in the mid-1900s, the mine became a landfill for the County under it’s old name, Union Mine. The northern portion of this road was realigned and upgraded to serve the new Union Mine High School.

Uniontown Road is named for the town now known as Lotus on the South Fork of the American River, down river from Coloma.

First named Marshall, after James Wilson Marshall the discoverer of gold, the name of the town was later changed to Uniontown, probably to show solidarity with the North during and after the Civil War. Even later, at the suggestion of a local businessman named Adam Lohry, the name was changed to Lotus. The actual reason why the name was changed from Uniontown to Lotus may be lost history, but some historians report that it was because “The inhabitants of the community were as easy-going as the lotus eaters of Odyssey.”

United Drive, in Cameron Park, is one of a series of roads in Air Park Estates named after airlines or aircraft manufacturers.

Air Park Estates was one of the first, if not the first, subdivisions in California specifically designed with streets wide enough and signs low enough, to allow the residents to taxi their private airplanes from the airport to hangers at their homes.

Upper Truckee Road, in the Lake Tahoe basin, refers to that portion of the Truckee River that feeds into Lake Tahoe.

The entire Truckee River, which also flows out of Lake Tahoe, is believed to be named for the Northern Paiute chief named Truckee, who directed members of the Stevens-Murphy-Townsend party to the river in 1844. John Charles Fremont, who explored this region around the same time, called it the Salmon Trout River possibly believing either the name Truckee was a poor pronunciation of the Spanish word trucha (trout) or as a reference to its fish.

Valley Oaks Court is named for the huge Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) which is mostly found in the fertile valley plains, but does extend its range up to around 3000 – 4000 feet in the foothills, depending upon the soil and availability of water. It’s large, long acorns were a favorite food of the Native Americans and the California Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos). As a side note, the last wild California Grizzly Bear was seen in Sequoia National Park in 1924.

Veerkamp Way is named for the family of Francis Joseph Arnold (Frank) Veerkamp, a gentleman of German descent who left St. Louis with his wife Louisa and son Henry, arriving in Placerville on September 11, 1852.

Settling in the Gold Hill – Granite Hill area they first ran a hotel and miner’s store. In 1873 they purchased the “Japanese Tea Colony” property and moved on to it, ultimately planting some 20,000 trees and vines. Frank and Louisa had ten children and some of their descendants are still residing in the Gold Hill area.

Vineyard Lane, in Coloma, refers to the acres and acres of vineyards that were planted near the town following the gold discovery. Many of the first miners had sophisticated tastes as evidenced by the large number of champagne bottles and oyster shells found when digging in the old townsites.

Grapes for wine became a major agricultural enterprise and, according to some, just a few decades after the Gold Rush there were several thousand acres of wine grapes growing in El Dorado County, making it the largest wine grape producing region in the State. With prohibition in the early 19th century, the vines were let go. Today, El Dorado County is re-emerging as a premium wine grape and wine producing region.

Vista, a Spanish word for “view” appears in so many road names that it, like pine, oak, gold and many others, is on the forbidden list of names for new streets.

Since El Dorado County has a single dispatch center, it was decided that confusion might occur if too many street names sounded similar and emergency vehicles could easily end up at the wrong location.

Volcanoville Road connects the early mining town of Volcanoville with Wentworth Springs Road and the town of Georgetown.

On a point overlooking the Middle Fork of the American River, Volcanoville acquired its name because a nearby mountain seemed to look like an extinct volcano and the miners had to work through lava cement (a hardened ash and mud deposit) to get to the gold.

In 1852 a rich deposit was discovered at this location and only three years later, a twelve stamp steam-driven mill was in operation, noisily separating the gold from the cement.

In 1856 a 42.8 ounce nugget was discovered by a lucky miner and the mining activity increased.

In 1879 a forest fire destroyed most of the buildings in town, however, two years later the Dore (Maurice Dore) Mine was reopened as the Josephine Mine and the town was rebuilt. The mine was so successful that the town itself was actually renamed Josephine and had a post office by that name in 1895.
After the name of the town was changed back to Volcanoville the Volcanoville post office was opened there in 1930.

By the 1960s most everything had shut down an a sign at the entrance to the town read: “Volcanoville. Pop. 4. Elev. 3036. At that time, Vera Frazier and her son Jim owned the town and operated a museum in a building that has once been a dance hall, general store and saloon. The museum burned in 1969, leaving only a few residences and a beer parlor.

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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