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Diamond Springs (No. 487 California Historical Landmark)

Historic Site or District
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California Historical Landmarks Program

Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region

2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California

3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.

California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800’s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks. The Chamber of Commerce then created a committee of prestigious historians, including DeWitt Hutchings and Lawrence Hill, to evaluate potential landmark sites.

In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.

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Diamond Springs was settled in 1848. The town name is derived from the crystal-clear springs located on the north side of what is now Main Street. It was settled at about the same time as Placerville (at the time named "Hangtown"), but prior to that time it had been a camp site and watering place on the old Carson Emigrant Trail. It reached its peak of importance in 1851, when it had a population of 1,500, and was soon after a contender for the county seat.

Among the richest spots in the vicinity, its diggings produced a 25-pound nugget, one of the largest ever found in El Dorado County. Several buildings erected in the 1850s that are still standing include the Old Wells Fargo Express Office, Louis Lepetit's Store (erected 1857), and the Diamond Springs Odd Fellows Hall, which is said to be the oldest building in constant use by the Odd Fellows in California. It was built in 1852 and has served as a meeting hall ever since.

Prior to white settlement, the area of Diamond Springs played an important cultural role for Northern Miwok and Southern Maidu (Nisenan) as a burial ground. The burial ceremonies were up to ten hours long, and tribes from hundreds of miles around came here to pay their last funeral rites to the deceased. In 1852 a funeral pyre for a chief from Georgetown was observed by Paolo Sioli, author of the 1883 book A Historical Souvenir of El Dorado County. Research by scholar Hugh Littlejohn and others in 1927 indicated that Diamond Springs may have originally been the Indian village of On-Cho-Ma.

Through its lumber, lime production, and agriculture, Diamond Springs has retained some of its early importance. As of the 2010 Census, the population of Diamond Springs was 11,037 people.

The Diamond Springs historical marker is located at the northwest corner of Highway 49 at China Garden Road in Diamond Springs.

El Dorado County

Stretching from oak-studded foothills and the shores of Folsom Lake to the western shore of Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County is probably best known for the 1848 gold discovery at Coloma. “Old Hangtown” sprang up during the Gold Rush and was later renamed Placerville. The county name comes from the mythical land rich in gold sought by Spanish explorers. The first inhabitants of El Dorado County were the Maidu and Miwok Indians, followed by miners attracted to the area by the Gold Rush.

El Dorado County was one of the original counties in California. The Pony Express Trail ran through the county approximately where Highway 50 is today, from April 3, 1860 to October 26, 1861. The first county seat was Coloma, and it was superseded by Placerville for this position in 1857. El Dorado means “the gilded one” in Spanish; a fitting name considering the mines in El Dorado County produced millions of dollars of gold.

Time Period Represented

Early Gold Rush (1848-1850s)

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