Brief History of El Dorado County


El Dorado was one of the original 27 counties of California. It is located between rivers that flow from east to west, from the mountains to the valley floor. The Rubicon, then the Middle Fork of the American River, is to the north. The Carson range and the South Fork of the Cosumnes River are the southern boundary. The county stops at Folsom Lake in the west and Lake Tahoe and the State of Nevada in the east. Highway 50 runs through the county east and west, and Highway 49 runs north and south. The elevation rises from 200 feet near the valley in the west to 10,881 feet at the highest peak in the east.

El Dorado means "The Gilded One" in Spanish and, indeed, the county yielded millions of dollars in gold from its mines and rich placer deposits during the Gold Rush.

But, first were the Indians that lived with nature and disturbed the land very little. The Maidu and Miwok Indians lived in the El Dorado County area and lived on the abundant game, waterfowl, fish and plants. Because they dug for roots to eat, they were called "Diggers" by the whites. Though the Spanish were the next people to settle in California, they didn't settle in the El Dorado County area nor did the Mexicans.

The next big immigration of people to California was brought by the discovery of gold at Sutter's sawmill in Coloma (Indian word for beautiful valley), El Dorado County on January 24, 1848 by James Marshall. It lasted from 1848 to 1857 and produced about $500 million in placer and quartz mining, but most of the prospectors didn't "strike it rich". The Gold Rush era left many physical scars in El Dorado County.

The Pony Express ran through the county approximately where Highway 50 is today, from April 3, 1860 to October 26, 1861. It was no longer needed when the transcontinental telegraph system was completed on October 24, 1861.

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