When gold was discovered in Coloma in 1848, thousands of prospective miners traveled by land and sea to this area.
That’s when the non-native population of the California territory swelled to around 100,000. They mined a total of $2 billion worth of the precious metal during the Gold Rush which peaked in 1852, according to History.com.
You gotta wonder what those early miners would think of this year’s gold rush.
It’s the World Gold Panning Championships in Placerville, which is expected to attract over 600 international competitors plus media and visitors from over 30 countries.
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“It’s a huge event for Placerville,” said Wendy Thomas, council member and former mayor. “People are coming from all over the world and we’re gearing up for that.”
The 40th annual championships will be held Sept. 11-18 at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville. Last year’s was held in Spain.
“Gold Week 2016” kicks off with a Parade of Nations on Main Street and includes activities for kids and adults plus a chance to learn gold panning.
“It’s gonna be a big deal,” Thomas said.
Placerville, one of many Gold Rush communities in the area, has grown from those early days and the population has changed.
Today’s settlers – or typical home buyers – are families who want a small-town feel, said Debra Miller, broker, Bella Real Estate, Placerville. They’re also seeking great schools or they are seniors who want to return to the lifestyle they enjoyed when they were younger.
They want “a real hometown where people know each other and welcome newcomers.”
Most residents are interested in the lifestyle. There is easy access to recreational options including rafting on the South fork of the American River, Gold Bug Mine Park, hiking and equestrian opportunities in many of the parks and the bike, trail and hiking system, Miller said.
Lake Tahoe is an hour away and it’s just 45 minutes to world-class skiing areas.
“We are also located in the Foothills wine appellation which gives us many great wineries to choose from and enjoy right here in Placerville.”
For those who want a mountain retreat or home in the wilderness, Grizzly Flats is just 21 miles away, said Bronte Lukanish, Realtor with The Piedmont Company. Her late husband started the firm in 1973.
The Gold Rush community was named for the Grizzly bear and the flat land, Lukanish said.
There was nothing there until a developer, Tom Porter, subdivided 1,500 acres in the late ’60s and called the development, Grizzly Park, Lukanish said.
Today, some residents live there part time, others commute or work from home or are retired. Many bought land and built cabins, mountain retreats and homes. The population is 936.
Grizzly Flats is not close to anything, Lukanish said. There’s no gas station and no grocery stores. People go into Placerville or Folsom.
“There is a post office, community church, ranger station and little school. Walt Tyler School (K-5th grade) has a total of 30 students.”
The attraction to Grizzly Flats, she said, “is the community and what it has and doesn’t have. It’s not for everybody, but with a 4,000-foot elevation, we get four seasons.”
Land prices start around $15,000; cabins are around $160,000 and homes are priced up to $495,000.
Placerville has three new-home communities: The Ridge, Silverado Village and Eskaton.
The Ridge features models that are new or under construction, Miller said.
They’re being built by New Home Communities off Mallard Way, Thomas said.
Eskaton Village Placerville is a multi-level community with single-family cottage homes, assisted living and memory care.
“It’s full-service with lovely amenities in the heart of Placerville off Broadway,” Thomas said.
Resident of Silverado Village, which is being built by Silverado Homes, will have priority access to the homeowner Village Center and Eskaton Lodge.
As of March 21, Placerville’s resale market lists 48 homes ranging from a low of $219,000 to $1,365,000. The median price is $394,500.
“Currently, buyers are coming from the Bay Area due to the high property values there and the reasonable property values here,” Miller said.
Proposition 90 allows those over age 55 to transfer their basic property taxes here, she said.
Both Miller and Thomas said that Placerville’s downtown is a great attraction.
“Placerville has many restaurant options and festivals: Beer and Wine, 3rd Saturday Art Walks and great shopping downtown,” Miller said. “It's got a wonderful historic feeling (yet is) current with great restaurants and shops.”
Thomas said the former Carrow’s restaurant has been gutted and Jack Russell Farm Brewery is taking its place on Main Street.
“It has a state-of-the-art kitchen, outdoor patio and gorgeous interior,” she said.
“Placerville has a nice vibrancy to it with events all the time on weekends and especially in the summer season.”
Upcoming are third Saturday Stagecoach rides, Girls Night Out May 14; Hangtown Car Show May 15 and Aug. 25; Wagon Train & Street Dance, June 11; Belltower Brewfest June 25; Dancin’ in the Street, July 16; and Craft Faire Aug. 14.
“Downtown is always hopping,” Thomas said.
Tinka Davi is a freelance writer and editor based in Folsom.
Where: approximately 45 miles east of Sacramento
Size: Approximately 5.8 square miles
County: El Dorado
The Community Profiles spotlight Sacramento-area cities and neighborhoods weekly. This schedule is subject to change:
▪ Fair Oaks, April 16
▪ Lincoln, April 23
▪ Loomis, April 30
▪ West Sacramento, May 7
▪ Rocklin, May 14
▪ Rancho Murieta, May 21
▪ Campus Commons, May 28
▪ Cameron Park, June 4
▪ Gold River, June 11
▪ Carmichael, June 18
▪ East Sacramento, June 25
▪ Elk Grove/Laguna, July 2
▪ El Dorado Hills, July 9
▪ Sierra Oaks, July 16
▪ Land Park, July 23
▪ Folsom, July 30
▪ Woodland, Aug. 6
▪ Granite Bay, Aug. 13
▪ Arden Arcade, Aug. 20
▪ Rancho Cordova, Aug. 27
Julie Robledo, resale homes,
(916) 321-1295, firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Tafoya, new homes,
(916) 321-1373, email@example.com