Community Profiles

Community Profiles – Caldor

Caldor Railroad -

Caldor Railroad -Courtesy of Steve Crandell Fine Art, Placerville

Caldor was a small, but very important, town near Grizzly Flat that was built by the California Door Co. Located on Dogtown Creek (also known as Dog Creek), a tributary of the Cosumnes River, it was the center for the lumbering operations of this company and ultimately, the eastern end of a narrow gauge railroad known as the Diamond & Caldor Railway.

The history of the town and the company goes all the way back to the days of the Gold Rush when a sash and door manufacturer on the East Coast received word that a large shipment of goods had not reached a customer in San Francisco. The company immediately dispatched a Mr. Bartlett Doe with instructions to search out and find the missing shipment. After a three-month journey, he arrived in San Francisco where he found the goods still on the ship, the crew having deserted for the mines.

While trying to located the needed manpower to unload the shipment, Doe observed that this “frontier town” might be just the place to open a new woodworking business. In 1850 his brother John sailed through the Golden Gate and the two then formed the B. & J. S. Doe Co. In the 1860s another brother, Charles F. Doe, acquired a nearby millwork company and, during the 1870s, the three brothers consolidated their interests, while retaining their individual companies. Finally, in 1884, the brothers formed a single company under the name of the California Door Co. and built a new door, window and blinds manufacturing plant in Oakland – the largest then in the West.

In 1900, to assure a continuous supply of ponderosa and sugar pine lumber for the business, the company acquired some 30,000 acres of timberland in El Dorado County, which included an old sawmill at a ghost town known as Dogtown, 30 miles southeast of Diamond Springs (The state archives indicate there was a school called Dog Creek School in this area between 1860 and 1864).

The old sawmill was soon replaced by a larger one that used water power from Dogtown Creek to saw the needed lumber. This new mill was capable of cutting into lumber 60,000 board feet of logs daily. After pondering for a time, the directors of the company renamed the site of the new sawmill Caldor, since Dogtown wasn’t quite the image the owners wanted for their company.

The company had built a planing mill and box factory at Diamond Springs, and now had to figure out best the method to get the lumber from the sawmill at Caldor to the mill at Diamond Springs, from where the railroad would carry the finished lumber to the Oakland factory.

Community Profiles – Bucks Bar

Downstream of Buck's Bar bridge

Downstream of Buck’s Bar bridge

Bucks Bar is not, as some suppose, named after a tavern or saloon located on Bucks Bar Road. The name refers to a specific gravel bar in the North Fork of the Cosumnes River, east of Diamond Springs, which allowed for a relatively easy river crossing for traffic heading to and from Somerset, Fair Play, Mt. Aukum, Uno and the other towns in the southern part of El Dorado County.

The original mining community of Bucks Bar was located upstream of today’s bridge, although in time most of the businesses moved to the main road. Water was brought in by ditch from Camp Creek to turn stamp mills and sluice the gravel.

Bucks Bar, it is said, was named by some gold seekers who stumbled upon a group of male Indians (often referred to by the miners as “Bucks”) working the gravel bar for gold. The Indians had taken up mining when the gold, which they had generally ignored for many generations, turned out to be very valuable to the immigrant miners.

This location in the canyon of the Cosumnes was chosen by the Indians because it was remote and the chances of being discovered were slim. It was also an area rich in fish and acorns, staples in their diet. Above the river’s high water mark are numerous locations where there is evidence of bedrock mortars where they crushed their acorns.

Once the immigrant miners found that this route to the southern part of the county was some two hours shorter and often a much safer route than the one from Hank’s Exchange south through Ladies Valley across the Cosumnes to Sandridge and then to Somerset, most of the traffic moved to it. Because of that and the fact that there was gold here, the Indians were soon driven out.

Almost immediately after it was discovered, this shorter route across Bucks Bar became the main road servicing the southern part of the county. Apparently the time saved was very valuable, because the narrowness of the canyon created a swift flow in the river and made crossing, especially during the rainy season, often quite treacherous.

This fact was borne out in 1860, when in response to a double murder at Indian Diggings, the coroner at that time, Dr. Eckelroth, left Placerville for Indian Diggings in the company of a Mike Welch. About 10 o’clock that evening they reached Buck’s Bar and found the water running quite high. Welch led the way across and was washed down the rapids and never seen again. Fortunately for him. Dr. Eckelroth escaped.