After the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in nearby Coloma, California, by James W. Marshall in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, the small town now known as Placerville was known as Dry Diggin's after the manner in which the miners moved cartloads of dry soil to running water to separate the gold from the soil. Later in 1849, the town earned its most common historical name, "Hangtown", because of the numerous hangings that had occurred there. According to the museum guide at the Fountain & Tallman Museum, there were only three hangings that occurred after three men on horseback came into town with guns ablaze. The name stuck after that. By about 1850, the temperance league and a few local churches had begun to request that a more friendly name be bestowed upon the town. The name was not changed until 1854 when the City of Placerville was incorporated. At its incorporation Placerville was the third largest town in California. In 1857 the county seat was then moved from Coloma to Placerville, where it remains today.
Placerville was a central hub for the Mother Lode region's mining operations. The town had many services, including transportation (of people and goods), lodging, banking, and had a market and general store. The history of hard-rock mining is evidenced by an open and accessible Gold Bug Park & Mine, now a museum with tours and books.
The Southern Pacific Railroad once had a branch line that extended from Sacramento to Placerville. The track was abandoned in the 1980s. The Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad (now abandoned) also operated an 8-mile (13 km) shortline that operated between Camino, California, and Placerville until June 17, 1986. As of March 29, 2007, 52 miles (84 km) of the right-of-way have been purchased by the city of Folsom, and 18 miles (29 km) of track have been restored. Plans are in motion for a tourist train along the route by 2015.
The town's first post office opened in 1850.
Placerville is now registered as California Historical Landmark #701.
Historic Cary House Hotel
300 Main St, Placerville, CA 95667
From the North
From the South
If you are interested in sightseeing around the area during the down time, getting around by car is the most convenient mode of transportation. Whether you bring your own or use a car service like Uber and Lyft, we welcome you to the area.