Placerville (pronounced PLASS-er-ville; formerly Old Dry Diggings, Dry Diggings, and Hangtown) is the county seat of El Dorado County, California. The population was 9,610 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Placerville, is located at 38°43′45″N 120°48′11″W / 38.729267°N 120.803000°W / 38.729267; -120.803000. It is located along U.S. Route 50 where it crosses State Route 49 and is the location of several traffic signals along the highway, which is otherwise a freeway.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.8 square miles (15.0 km²), all of it land.
It is about 500 metres above sea level, and is in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,610 people, 4,001 households, and 2,484 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,656.2 people per square mile (639.7/km²). There were 4,242 housing units at an average density of 731.1/sq mi (282.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.56% White, 0.23% Black or African American, 1.27% Native American, 0.88% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 5.79% from other races, and 3.14% from two or more races. 12.61% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 4,001 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,454, and the median income for a family was $46,875. Males had a median income of $36,711 versus $28,095 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,151. About 9.3% of families and 12.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.9% of those under age 18 and 4.3% of those age 65 or over.
Prior to the discovery of gold in nearby Coloma, California by James W. Marshall in 1848 sparking 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" , due to the numerous hangings that had taken place there. By 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 eighteen miles (29 km) of track have been restored. Plans are under consideration for a tourist excursion train along the route.
The town's first post office opened in 1850.
The region east of Placerville, known as Apple Hill, is increasingly becoming a center for quality wine production. Notable wineries in the region include Boeger, Lava Cap and Granite Springs. The region is "renown[ed] for making vibrantly flavorful, distinctly delicious wines, grown in the dramatic elevations of the Sierra Nevada."
In the state legislature Placerville is located in the 1st Senate District, represented by Republican Dave Cox, and in the 4th Assembly District, represented by Republican Ted Gaines. Federally, Placerville is located in California's 4th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +11 and is represented by Republican Tom McClintock.
Placerville began as a "gold" town. One of its first known names was Dry Diggin's because the gravel had to be carried to water to pan for gold. Later it was known as Hangtown. Because of the wildness, there were many hangings in town. Placerville California has had several name changes. It started as "Blood and Guts" in the mid 1800's. Settling families (mostly the women) complained of its' un-christian sounding name and it was changed to "Hangtown". (Appropriately named as public hangings were regularly done there.) It remained as such for several years until its current name. If you are traveling in the area, you can still see the old Hangman's platform that was used for public hangings. this can be seen on the street markers in town. A belltower, once used as a warning bell for fire, is located on main street which is a landmark in the area. Placerville is home to the Mountain Democrat newspaper and Marshall Medical Center.
Placerville is a historic community from the gold-rush days, and accordingly there are many old buildings from this period. A walk down Main Street also reveals many historical markers, signifying spots of certain events or persons of importance during this period. Placerville was also on the line of the Pony Express, a short-lived mail carrier service that connected California to the Midwest and East (basically from Sacramento to St. Joseph, Missouri). The Pony Express eventually gave way to the efficiencies of railroad transportation.
The branch line was actually never allowed to be abandoned and was purchased from the Union Pacific in 1996 for $14 million by the Joint Powers Authority consisting of Sacramento County, Folsom, and El Dorado County. There was a group that was restoring the line to run historic excursion trains from Folsom to Placerville a total of 35 miles (56 km) of track, but the train stopped running around 1985. There is also a mountain bike trail and equestrian trails.
The snowfall for the Placerville area ranges between a dusting and 6 inches (15 cm) per cold winter storm.. An average year would be around 9-12 inches of snowfall. The average for Historical Downtown Placerville is 9.7 inches (25 cm) for the winter year. As you travel to the higher elevations near Placerville, you will see more snowfall and snow pack. This is because it is colder higher up, so snow forms.
Over the years many notable and influential people had shops in Placerville, mostly along the now historic Main Street.
* Henry Hooker - cattle baron
* Edwin Markham - poet
* John Studebaker - auto maker
* Levi Strauss - clothing maker
* Mark Hopkins - railroad financier
Modern notable persons:
* Thomas Kinkade - painter
* Scott Goold - painter
* Toby Hall - baseball player
* Mary Kartak - endurance rider and top placing winner
* Annie Le - Yale University medical/doctoral student, murdered September 8, 2009
* Spider Sabich - ski racer from Kyburz - buried in Placerville
* Jerome R. Waldie - United States Representative from California