Placerville California is located near Sacramento. This gold rush town was named after deposits of placer gold that was found in the river beds in the 1840’s. Being so close to where gold was first discovered in 1849 many people came flocking to this city in hopes of finding their fortune. It is located only 10 miles from the city that gold was first found in. The placer gold deposits the town got its name from were found in the river between Spanish Ravine and the town plaza. With all the miners rushing to the area Placerville soon became a much needed supply hub during the gold rush.
Placerville also had another name in the early days which was “Hangtown”. One of the most famous stories on how the town got this name is a gambler named Lopez brought to attention that he was winning in a local saloon. When Lopez started home, some men came and tried to rob him. Lopez fought back and with some help form bystanders and the robbers were captured. These men who attacked Lopez were also wanted for a murder and robbery that happened at a gold camp on the Stanislaus River. After a short trial the men were found guilty the crowd was said to have called out, "Hang 'em! Hang 'em!" Contrary to the name only a small number of people were actually hanged in Hangtown and in 1850, was renamed.
Many famous business people had business on Placerville’s Main Street like Phillip Armour the meat packer who left upstate New York at the age of 19. He like so many others was headed to California for the gold rush. By age 24 Phillip Armour had made $8,000. Mark Hopkins also from New York was a book keeper when he heard about California’s gold he became a railroad financier who did business in Placerville. The Central Pacific railroad made Hopkins very wealthy. Yet another famous business man on Main Street was John Studebaker. He found wealth his wealth in California in building wheelbarrows for the gold miners. Maybe one of the reasons that John Studebaker started his fortune selling wheel barrows was because even before Placerville was Hangtown it was called Dry Diggins. This name originated from the miners who had to cart dry soil down to the running water to wash out the gold. All of these men got their start right in Placerville California.
Another famous person who was in Placerville during the gold rush was John Albert Thompson better known as Snowshoe Thompson. In 1855 Placerville had lost its mail carrier. And on top of that his partner had died. The mail that the residents of Placerville were sending was piling up. The mail had to get over the Sierra Nevada mountain range which was covered in snow. Placerville’s postmaster went to Norwegian gold miner John Thompson with his problem. Thompson was not doing so well with his gold mining efforts so he decided to attempt to carry the mail over the mountains. Though the postmaster did not have the power to pay or even hire Thompson he told him he could do it. Even under those circumstances Thompson accepted. ...