Is it Diamond Spring or Diamond Springs? And, is it named for the crystal clear springs where the immigrants watered their livestock or for the diamond-like quartz crystals that were found nearby?
The first question has an easy answer. The name of the townsite was written both as Diamond Spring and Diamond Springs until July 1, 1950 when the “s” was officially added by the U.S. Post Office Department, making it from that day forward Diamond Springs.
The crystal springs answer to the second question is the reference that shows up in a large majority of the early histories of El Dorado County, so we can probably go with that one, although the quartz crystal option is somewhat more interesting.
We do know that the group of springs in the middle of this Gold Rush community were a favorite stopping and camping place for the immigrants who reached here by way of the old immigrant road (Carson trail) that followed the course of the Carson River up over the Sierra Nevada and then down towards this spot passing Silver Lake, Sly Park and Pleasant Valley along the way.
It was an ideal location to stop since it was at this point that the immigrants had to make a choice, either take the road to the north, towards Hangtown, Coloma, Georgetown and the northern mining camps, continue west for about two miles and and then turn south to Jackson, Sonora and the southern mining camps or just stay on the road going west to Sacramento and what was commonly known as the “plains.”
Although the Diamond Springs area would later prove to be quite rich in gold, no one realized it at first and there was no real settlement here – save one log cabin – until late in the summer of 1850. Prior to that time most who arrived stayed only long enough to rest, water and feed their stock and then continue their trip. But, as we will see, not everybody moved on.