Mile 2148: Placerville

“And Hangtown—what of it? Built flimsily at a carefree slant on the two sides of a shallow pine-filled canyon, the log-framed, canvas-roofed buildings of ’49 gradually gave way to better arrangements. Men found there was sure money to be made in limber, and small mills hacked out heavy timbers for warmer houses. A crude but effective line of stores centered the rambling elongated town and soon became a recognized goal for gold seekers. It was the third largest city in the state. And, only second to Sacramento, Hangtown symbolized for the overland Argonaut, their arrival in the west. . . .

The settlement started its diversified career under the title Dry Diggings, but was rechristened in honor of its early citizens’ well meant exertions in the cause of justice. Two Frenchmen and a Chileno were hanged on an oak in the center of town in January, 1850.Several other executions followed rapidly—possibly too rapidly. The place was irrevocably dubber Hangtown. When California became a state, later in the same year, the more aesthetic citizenry had its name legally changed to Placerville.. In the spring of ’53, still struggling for less violence, they narrowly prevented another lynching and had the oak cut down. The top was made into souvenirs, but the stump is beneath a building within a few feet of the memorial plaque.”