Salmon Falls (No. 571 California Historical Landmark)

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 The first county seat was Coloma, and it was superseded by Placerville for this position in 1857.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.

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Latitude: 38.759068 Longitude: -121.069945 Elevation: 476 ft

About this Establishment

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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Time Period Represented

Early Gold Rush (1848-1850s)

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