Placer County Landmarks are historic
properties and places designated as significant resources in three state
registration programss: State Historical Landmarks, Points of Historical
Interest, and the California Register of Historic Places. The information
originates from the Office of Historic Preservation - California Department of
Parks and Recreation and is also available in the California Historical
NO. 397 TOWN OF DUTCH FLAT - Founded in the spring of 1851 by Joseph and Charles
Dornback, from 1854 to 1882 Dutch Flat was noted for its rich hydraulic mines.
In 1860 it had the largest voting population in Placer County, Chinese
inhabitants numbered about 2,000. Here Theodore Judah and D. W. Strong made the
original subscription to build the first transcontinental railroad.
Location: NE corner of Main and Stockton Sts, Dutch Flat
NO. 398 YANKEE JIM'S - Gold was discovered here in 1850 by 'Yankee Jim,' a
reputed lawless character, and by 1857 the town was one of the most important in
Placer County. The first mining ditch in the county was constructed here by H.
Starr and Eugene Phelps. Colonel William McClure introduced hydraulic mining to
this area in June of 1853.
Location: SE corner of Colfax Foresthill and Springs Garden Rds, 3.0 mi NE of
NO. 399 TOWN OF FOREST HILL - Gold was discovered here in 1850, the same year
the first 'forest house' was built. In 1852 the Jenny Lind Mine, which produced
over a million dollars in gold, was discovered. Mines in this immediate vicinity
produced over ten million dollars up to 1868. The town was an important trading
post and was famed for its beautiful forest.
Location: 24540 Main St, Forest Hill
NO. 400 VIRGINIATOWN - Founded June 1851, the town was commonly called
'Virginia.' Over 2,000 miners worked rich deposits here. In 1852 Captain John
Brislow built California's first railroad to carry pay dirt one mile, to Auburn
Ravine. It was the site of Philip Armour's and George Aldrich's butcher shop,
said to have led to founding of the famous Chicago Armour meatpacking company.
Location: 4725 Virginiatown Rd, 0.2 mi SE of Fowler and Virginiatown Rds, 7 mi
NW of Newcastle
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: GOLD HILL
NO. 401 IOWA HILL - Gold was discovered here in 1853, and by 1856 weekly
production was estimated at one hundred thousand dollars. The total value of
gold produced up to 1880 is placed at twenty million dollars. The town was
destroyed by fire in 1857 and again in 1862, each time it was rebuilt with more
substantial buildings, but the last big fire, in 1922, destroyed most of the
Location: 0.1 mi SW of post office on Iowa Hill Rd, Iowa Hill
NO. 402 TOWN OF MICHIGAN BLUFF - Founded in 1850 and first known as Michigan
City, the town was located on the slope one-half mile from here. Leland
Stanford, who gained wealth and fame in California, operated a store in Michigan
City from 1853 to 1855. In 1858 the town became undermined and unsafe so it was
moved to this location and renamed Michigan Bluff.
Location: Intersection of Gorman Ranch and Auburn -Foresthill Rds, Michigan
NO. 403 EMIGRANT GAP - The spring of 1845 saw the first covered wagons surmount
the Sierra Nevada. They left the valley, ascended to the ridge, and turned
westward to old Emigrant Gap, where they were lowered by ropes to the floor of
Bear Valley. Hundreds followed before, during, and after the gold rush. This was
a hazardous portion of the overland emigrant trail.
Location: Emigrant Gap Vista Pt, Interstate 80 (P.M. 55.5), Emigrant Gap
NO. 404 CITY OF AUBURN - Gold was discovered
near here by Claude Chana on May 16, 1848. First known as 'North Fork' or 'Woods
Dry Diggins,' the settlement was given the name Auburn in the fall of 1849. It
soon became an important mining town, trading post, and stage terminal, and also
became the county seat of Sutter County in 1850 and of Placer County in 1851. It
was destroyed by fires in 1855, 1859, and 1863.
Location: SW corner of Maple St and Lincoln Way, Auburn
NO. 405 TOWN OF GOLD RUN - Originally called Mountain Springs, Gold Run was
founded in 1854 by O. W. Hollenbeck. It was famed for its hydraulic mines, which
from 1865 to 1878 shipped $6,125,000 in gold. Five water ditches passed through
the town to serve the mining companies, but they had to cease operations in 1882
when a court decision made hydraulic mining unprofitable.
Location: NW corner of I-80 and Magra Rd, plaque across the street from post
office, Gold Run
NO. 463 OPHIR - Founded in 1849 as 'The Spanish Corral,' Ophir received its
Biblical name in 1850 because of its rich placers. The most populous town in
Placer County in 1852, polling 500 votes, Ophir was almost totally destroyed by
fire in July 1853 but later became the center of quartz mining in the county.
Location: SW corner of Lozanos and Bald Hill Rds, 3 mi W of Auburn
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: AUBURN
NO. 585 PIONEER EXPRESS TRAIL - Between 1849 and 1854, Pioneer Express riders
rode this gold rush trail to the many populous mining camps on the American
River bars now covered by Folsom Lake-Beals, Condemned, Dotons, Long, Horseshoe,
Rattlesnake, and Oregon-on the route to Auburn and beyond.
Location: Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, Beals Point unit, 0.3 mi N on
levee, plaque on riding trail, Folsom
NO. 724 PIONEER SKI AREA OF AMERICA, SQUAW VALLEY - The VIII Olympic Winter
Games of 1960 commemorated a century of sport skiing in California. By 1860 the
Sierra Nevada-particularly at the mining towns of Whiskey Diggings, Poker Flat,
Port Wine, Onion Valley, La Porte, and Johnsville, some 60 miles north of Squaw
Valley-saw the first organized ski clubs and competition in the western
Location: Squaw Valley Sports Center, NE corner of Blyth Olympic Arena Bldg,
Squaw Valley Rd, Squaw Valley
NO. 780-1 FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD-ROSEVILLE - Central Pacific graders
arrived at Junction on November 23, 1863, and when track reached there on April
25, 1864, trains began making the 18-mile run to and from Sacramento daily. The
new line crossed a line reaching northward from Folsom that the California
Central had begun in 1858 and abandoned in 1868. Junction, now called Roseville,
became a major railroad distribution center.
Location: Old Town Roseville, intersection of Lincoln and Pacific Sts, Roseville
NO. 780-2 FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD-ROCKLIN - Central Pacific reached
Rocklin, 22 miles from its Sacramento terminus, in May 1864, when the railroad
established a major locomotive terminal here. Trains moving over the Sierra were
generally cut in two sections at this point in order to ascend the grade. The
first CP freight movement was three carloads of Rocklin granite pulled by the
engine Governor Stanford. The terminal was moved to Roseville April 18, 1908.
Location: SE corner of Rocklin Rd and First St, Rocklin
NO. 780-3 FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD-NEWCASTLE - Regular freight and
passenger trains began operating over the first 31 miles of Central Pacific's
line to Newcastle on June 10, 1864, when political opposition and lack of money
stopped further construction during that mild winter. Construction was resumed
in April 1865. At this point, stagecoaches transferred passengers from the Dutch
Flat Wagon Road.
Location: SW corner of Main and Page Sts, Newcastle
NO. 780-4 FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD-AUBURN - After an 11-month delay due
to political opposition and lack of money, Central Pacific tracks reached Auburn
May 13, 1865, and regular service began. Government loans became available when
the railroad completed its first 40 miles, four miles east of here. With the new
funds, Central Pacific augmented its forces with the first Chinese laborers, and
work began again in earnest.
Location: 639 Lincoln Way, Auburn
NO. 780-5 FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD-COLFAX - Central Pacific rails reached
Illinois-town on September 1, 1865, and train service began four days later.
Renamed by Governor Stanford in honor of Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House
of Representatives and later Ulysses S. Grant's Vice President, the town was for
ten months a vital construction supply depot and junction point for stage lines.
The real assault on the Sierra began here.
Location: Red Caboose Museum, NE corner of Main and Grass Valley Sts, Colfax
NO. 797 LAKE TAHOE OUTLET GATES - Conflicting control of these gates, first
built in 1870, resulted in the two-decade 'Tahoe Water War' between lakeshore
owners and downstream Truckee River water users. The dispute was settled in
1910-11 when techniques for determining water content in snow, developed by Dr.
James E. Church, Jr., made possible the accurate prediction and control of the
seasonal rise in lake and river levels.
Location: 73 N Lake Blvd (Hwy 89), at SW corner of Truckee River Bridge, Tahoe
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: TAHOE CITY
NO. 799 OVERLAND EMIGRANT TRAIL - Over a hundred years ago, this trail resounded
to creaking wheels of pioneer wagons and the cries of hardy travelers on their
way to the gold fields. It is estimated that over thirty thousand people used
this trail in 1849. Here the old trail approaches the present highway.
Location: SE side of Wolf Creek Bridge, State Hwy 49 (P.M. 3.61), 10 mi S of
NO. 885 GRIFFITH QUARRY - Established in the fall of 1864 by Mr. Griffith
Griffith, a native of Wales, the quarry located near this site supplied
high-quality granite for a number of the important buildings in San Francisco
and Sacramento, including portions of the state capitol. This was also the site
of the state's first successful commercial granite polishing mill, erected in
Location: SE corner of Taylor and Rock Springs Rds, Penryn
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: ROCKLIN