Diamond Springs

Town History - Gold Discovery, Early Citizenry, Legends

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Town History

      After the hardships and trials of crossing the Sierra Nevada, the weary emigrants following the Carson Trail no doubt welcomed a day or two of rest at the group of springs located here, sweet springs which provided cool, beautifully clear water. And once the travelers had rested and the stock had been watered, they would move on. No one could afford to stay for any length of time, they were bound for Coloma or the Southern Mines; the gold was waiting.
      This all changed in the late summer of 1850 when a party of two hundred emigrants arrived from Missouri. The company was led by a man named McPike, and after crossing the mountains, they decided to rest here for a few days before moving on. The beautiful scenery, pasture and water changed their minds; however, and when they discovered gold in the ravines, the matter was settled, and so was Diamond Springs. Although some early accounts relate that the place was named after the finding of nice quartz crystals mistakenly thought to be diamonds, it was the crystal clear water of the springs for which the place was named.
      Besides having an abundance of gold in the ravines and gulches, the camp’s favorable location helped its growth. Stages made regular stops, freighters made the town a base for their operations, and anyone traveling from Sacramento to Placerville passed through the town. The miners continued to mine and Diamond Springs continued to grow. By 1854, Coloma’s importance as a mining center had begun to decline and other towns began to covet the county seat. Placerville led in the agitation for the removal of the county seat from Coloma, and when the matter was finally voted on, Diamond Springs finished third in the balloting, from a field of five contenders.
      Not winning the county seat proved no problem for the prosperous town. After all, the place had half a dozen saloons, a like number of general stores, a druggist, a carpenter, a jeweler, a bookseller, churches, stables, a temperance hall, a law library, an express office, a post office, hotels, dwellings, and fraternal organizations such as the Masons and the Odd Fellows.
      A story is told that the early day chickens of Diamond Springs were accomplished gatherers of gold, hunting and pecking at small nuggets. One Sunday morning, a local chicken was caught and fried up for the afternoon’s dinner. When the lucky cook later panned out the chicken’s gizzard, he supposedly netted about $12 in gold.

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