Placerville has many old buildings from the Gold Rush days. Placerville’s Main Street consists of many historical markers, signifying spots of certain events or persons of importance during this period. Placerville was also on the line of the Pony Express, that connected California to the Midwest and East from Sacramento to St. Joseph, Missouri.
After the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in nearby Coloma, California, by James W. Marshall in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, the small town now known as Placerville was known as Dry Diggin’s after the manner in which the miners moved cartloads of dry soil to run water to separate the gold from the soil. Later in 1849, the town earned its most common historical name, “Hangtown”, because of the numerous hangings that had occurred there. According to the museum guide at the Fountain & Tallman Museum, there were only three hangings that occurred after three men on horseback came into town with guns ablaze. The name stuck after that. By about 1850, the temperance league and a few local churches had begun to request that a more friendly name be bestowed upon the town. The name was not changed until 1854 when the City of Placerville was incorporated. At its incorporation, Placerville was the third largest town in California. In 1857 the county seat was then moved from Coloma to Placerville, where it remains today. The town’s first post office opened in 1850. Placerville is now registered as California Historical Landmark #701.
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