Strawberry Valley House- Overland Pony Express Route in California (No. 707 California Historical Landmark)
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 1800s 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.
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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Strawberry Valley is located within a picturesque alpine meadow. Lover’s Leap, a giant granitic formation that is popular with rock climbers, rises above the valley floor and offers astounding views of the valley below and Horsetail Falls. Strawberry Valley was also one of the stopping points along the Pony Express Route, and the Strawberry Valley House was a popular resort and a Pony Express Remount Station. The house was established by Swift and Watson in 1856 and also served as a stopping point for the teams of the Comstock Lode. A plaque commemorating the staging point here describes how on April 4, 1860, Division Superintendant Bolivar Roberts waited with a string of mules to aid Pony Express rider Warren Upson through a snowstorm on Echo Summit. The house, now a lodge, is still in operation today.
The Pony Express was a mail delivery system carried out by men on horseback from 1860-1861. Until the national telegraph system was put into place in late 1861, the Pony Express was a reliable form of mail delivery for the 18 months it was in service. Only one mail delivery was ever lost. The California portion of the trail ran directly through El Dorado County, near present-day Highway 50. Commemorative markers have been erected at the old staging spots to memorialize the Pony Express Overland Trail, and serve as a reminder of El Dorado County’s role in the history of the Pony Express.
Today, Strawberry Valley provides numerous outdoor recreation activities, due to its proximity to Lover’s Leap, Horsetail Falls, Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort, and abundant camping and hiking sites along Highway 50 over Echo Summit. Lake Tahoe is 19.8 miles east of Strawberry Valley. Echo Lakes, Lake Aloha, Fallen Leaf Lake, and other alpine lakes are also located near Strawberry Valley.
The Strawberry Valley House is located in Strawberry, on Highway 50, 8.7 miles east of Kyburz.
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.
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