placerville hangtown colorado true west
Illustration of Placerville, Colorado.

The town, about 45 miles northwest of Sacramento, CA, was originally called Dry Diggins when it was started in 1848—because there was no gold to be found there.  By the next year, folks called it Hangtown, reportedly because so many miscreants had been strung up (although local records indicate only three men were given a rope necktie).

But when the churches and civilization moved in, around 1850, they began pushing for a nicer name.  It was officially dubbed Placerville in 1854. Then and now, it’s the county seat of El Dorado County.

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