As we continue to get to know the eccentric cities that make up the Sacramento area, this local appreciation series is all about Placerville. If you’re visiting the area for the weekend or are a Sacramento native, understanding the unique history of our surrounding counties and learning more about what they offer, today is the best day to get excited about your upcoming plans. In this month’s local appreciation series, we will walk you through the history of El Dorado county and touch on some of the best landmarks to visit while enjoying the city of Placerville.
The Birth of Placerville
Located just ten miles from the discovery of gold at John Sutter’s Mill, Placerville found itself right in the heart of the California Gold Rush. As news of gold spread throughout the area, gold was soon discovered in the banks of the Placerville creek which would later be marked as Hangtown Creek and is still referred to as such today. The city then known as Old Dry Diggins soon became Hangtown in 1849 when three men were charged with robbery and sentenced to death by hanging, taking place at the Main Street oak tree.
As the town continued to grow as a supply center for mining camps during the Gold Rush, and with the addition of The Methodist Episcopal Church, the town was in desperate need of a fresh new image. In 1854, this Northern California town was officially re-introduced to the public as Placerville, CA, with the name coming from the placer gold deposits that were discovered in the riverbeds during the time of the Gold Rush. Even though this town went through a variety of identity changes, it’s roots can still be found throughout its historic landmarks.
Throughout 1854, 1855, and 1856, the town of Placerville fell victim to destructive fires. During the midst of the Gold Rush, the Sacramento Valley Railroad project began in 1856 in an effort to connect these California cities to Nevada. However, due to competition in the area, the Placerville Depot didn’t open for business until 1888, finally connecting this area through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As time went on, Placerville’s gold mines were not as profitable and the town had to move onto a new venture as a way to continue to growing. This new venture came in the form of a transportation center when silver was discovered in Nevada as Placerville served as a key horse drawn freighting town compared to the surrounding areas.
Following a dispute with the railroad, the city of Placerville was disbanded. Looking for a way to grow in a new way, the city turned to lumber, agriculture development, and light manufacturing, ultimately resulting in the town’s re-incorporation in 1900.
With a transportation connection to the rest of the state and the bordering state, Placerville continued to thrive through the 1900s by producing agricultural products and manufacturing businesses. For the next hundred years, this town would be known as a hub for lumber and agriculture right up until the railroad was abandoned and no longer put to use. However, in the 1960s, the two-lane Highway 50 was transformed into a four-lane freeway, making Placerville accessible to Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, and other major cities in the Northwest region.
What Makes Placerville Unique
From its roots to present day, Placerville continues to deliver distinctive attractions to all that visit. Whether you’re looking for a trip down memory lane through this town’s history or you’re looking to enjoy an afternoon exploring the vineyards, Placerville has it all. During your stay at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento, we would highly recommend making a day trip to this charming California city and exploring the many attractions that make this area special.
Historic Downtown Placerville
Enjoy shops, dining venues, art, historic roots, and more, all located on Placerville’s Historic Main Street. Originally known as Hangtown, this area of the city still holds onto its historic roots and key factors to the area’s growth. As a way to preserve this history, Placerville has done an excellent job at continuing to showcase the attractions that they are most proud of. Make sure to check out the following historic locations on and around Main Street.
- Placerville Hardware Store: The oldest hardware store West of the Mississippi.
- Fountain-Tallman Museum: Learn more about the history of Old Hangtown.
- The Bell Tower: Historically used as an alarm for fires in the town.
- The Hangman’s Tree: The original location of the hanging of three criminals in 1849, now houses the local ice cream shop.
19th Century Architecture
Not only is Placerville known for its history, but it’s also known for its historic architecture. Many buildings that were used in the 19th century have been maintained and are still in use to this day. Exploring the remarkable buildings in the area gives you a true understanding of how this old mining and supply town grew into what it is today. Don’t forget to check out the following buildings to get your own taste of Placerville history:
- John Pearson Soda Works
- Combellack-Blair House
- Confidence Hall
- The Church of Our Savior
- Hangtown Gold Bug Park & Mine
Things to See in Placerville
In addition to the historic and unique attractions listed above, there are still a variety of interesting locations available to visit while you’re in the area. Find some of the best shops and restaurants on Main Street, or go off the beaten path and enjoy a local, fan-favorite activity. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to stumble upon Placerville gems that make up this El Dorado County town. Checkout the following attractions during your day trip to Placerville:
*Note: Please be sure to call beforehand to assure that the following locations are open for business at this time.
- El Dorado Wine Trails
- Eldorado National Forest
- Larsen Apple Barn
- Boa Vista Orchards
- Community Observatory
- And much more!
Now that you have the full story behind the upbringing of Placerville, California, the key historic events, and a list of things to do in and around town, you’re sure to have an exceptional time exploring the area for yourself. After a day full of discovery, your room or suite at Hard Rock Sacramento will be calling your name! Unwind at the Hard Rock Cafe center bar or test your luck on the casino floor. No matter how you choose to spend your time in the Sacramento area, our team at Hard Rock is looking forward to making your trip the best that it can be.
Get to know the other cities that make up Northern California and Sacramento county: