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 Forest Hill
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
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 town.
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 Bluff
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 Westbound), 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
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 hemisphere.
Location: Adjacent to Lobby Entrance of Cable Car Building at base of mountain, 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, S.E. corner of Church St & Washington Blvd, 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: Grass Valley Street and Railroad Tracks in Railroad Park, 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 City
NO. 799-2 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. Rocks near this site still bear the marks of wagon wheels. For those early travelers, the next ordeal was a tortuous descent into Bear Valley.
Location: Big Bend Ranger Station, 2008 Hampshire Rocks Rd (old Hwy 40), 8 mi W of Soda Springs
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 1874.
Location: SE corner of Taylor and Rock Springs Rds, Penryn
NO. 1051 MOUNTAIN QUARRIES RAILROAD BRIDGE - The bridge spans the American River on the boundary between Placer and El Dorado counties. Built in 1912, the bridge is a very early example of reinforced concrete railroad bridge construction. It was designed by John B. Leonard, a renowned pioneer in the design, engineering, and use of reinforced concrete in California and the nation. From 1912 to 1942, the Mountain Quarries Railroad operated trains over the bridge, carrying loads of sandstone to Auburn, California to meet up with the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Location: Downstream from the State Highway 49 Bridge over the North Fork of the American River