From April 4, 1860 to June 30, 1861, a relay station for the Pony Express Trail was operated in Placerville. William (Sam) Hamilton, the first eastbound rider to leave from Sacramento, changed horses, added an express letter to his mochila, and left for Sportsman's Hall on April 4, 1860. Placerville was the western terminus of the Pony Express from July 1, 1861 until the express was discontinued on October 26, 1861.
The Pony Express was the mail delivery service from Missouri to California. Relay teams of men on horseback carried mail from station to station. The Pony Express was a reliable means of communication, and only one mail delivery was ever lost. The Pony Express was ended after the Pacific Telegraph line was completed.
The Placerville Pony Express marker is located in downtown Placerville at the southwest corner of Main and Sacramento Streets.
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 The first county seat was Coloma, and it was superseded by Placerville for this position in 1857.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.