Salmon Falls is a former mining settlement in El Dorado County. Now submerged beneath Folsom Lake, Mormons mining began here on the South Fork of the American River in 1848. The town was founded in 1850 and named for nearby waterfalls on Sweetwater Creek.
At one point in its early mining days, Salmon Falls swelled to a population of 3,000 people. Small mining areas nearby were McDowell Hill, Jayhawk, New York House, Green Springs, and Pinchem Gut, also known as Pinchum Tight.
When Folsom Dam was constructed, the only remnants of Salmon Falls was an old boarding house, a cemetery, foundations, and the Salmon Falls Bridge. When lake levels are low, the bridge at Salmon Falls and the remains of other small mining towns can be seen and accessed by Salmon Falls Trail on Salmon Falls Road.
Those laid to rest at the cemeteries of these towns were reburied before the dam was constructed at the Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery.
The cemetery monument is at the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, Green Valley Road, 0.1 mile northeast of the El Dorado-Sacramento County line, 4 miles northeast of Folsom.
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 The first county seat was Coloma, and it was superseded by Placerville for this position in 1857.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.