Town of Foresthill (No. 399 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 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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The access to precious resources located in Foresthill did not end with the Gold Rush. Pristine forest landscapes offer visitors a wealth of recreational opportunities in the same areas where miners actively searched for shining nuggets of gold, and loggers felled trees to send to lumber mills that are now closed. Area visitors can enjoy beautiful mountain scenery, hikes, lakes, and recreational activities along the American River.
Foresthill is located on a broad ridge between the North and Middle Forks of the American River, approximately 20 miles east of Auburn. The Foresthill Bridge which soars 730 feet above the American River's North Fork, is reputed to be the 3rd highest bridge in the United States and the tallest in California. The Foresthill Divide Museum presents exhibits the illustrate the history of Forest Hill.
The town of Foresthill was among the earliest gold mining camps in California. Gold was discovered here in 1850 and the town became recognized as the most productive cement-tunnel mining district in the state. The year 1852 was also the beginning of hydraulic mining at Yankee Jim's (California Historical Landmark No. 398).
A number of other mining camps surrounded Foresthill. Volcano was one of many, and kept its name after establishing the town. Bath was located to the east and later destroyed by forest fires. Yankee Jim's was located to the northwest. Individual mining camps held names such as New Jersey, Rip, Oro, Rough and Ready, Gore, Golden Gate, Rough Gold, Alabama and Deidesheimer.
The total output of all area mines amounted to $10 million by 1868. The price of gold at the time was $16 an ounce. By 1880, 700 people lived in Forest Hill and large-scale mining continued until the turn of the century. During the 1930s and 1940s mining activity reactivated, pushing the total area yield to more than $25 million in gold. Paragon and Three Queens mine remain active.
Foresthill grew to become one of the largest towns in Placer County. It was even considered “metropolitan” by the standards of the day. In the late 1850s, the town featured hotels, stores, banks, saloon and homes surrounded by gardens and orchards. The original Forest House Hotel was a popular overnight stop and trading center for area mining towns and camps beginning in the 1850s. The hotel burned down on Christmas Day 1918 with a turkey dinner in the oven. A second Forest House Hotel later replaced the original. The Hardy-Kennedy building of 1862 was the first fireproof store in Foresthill This building, now known as the Langstaff building, is still being used by the merchants of Foresthill. Slightly less than 1,500 people live in Foresthill today, according to US Census data.
The Historical Landmark Marker is located at 24540 Main Street in Foresthill.
Within its borders picturesque farm land and Gold-Rush era towns dot the oak-covered foothills. Craggy peaks, forests, tumbling rivers and clear alpine lakes create the natural beauty of the High Country. Outdoor enthusiasts thrill at Placer County’s abundance of year-round recreational activities, while others marvel at the array of galleries, theater, musical and festival events. Shoppers love the large selection of boutiques, specialty shops and farmers markets.
Time Period Represented
1850s to 1860s