Before the discovery of gold, Mud Springs was an important stop on
the old Carson Emigrant Trail. Travelers would pause here to water
their cattle and other stock, resulting in muddy ground about the
springs, hence the name. The name also helped to distinguish these
springs from nearby Diamond Springs.
One of the first settlers to actually stay in Mud Springs was James
Thomas who erected a trading post and hotel in the winter of 1849/50
called the Mud Springs House. With the discovery of gold in the area,
the miners began to arrive by the score. They pitched their tents and
panned the creeks, and before long established quite a mining center.
It was also a crossroads for freight and stage lines, as the road from
Sacramento forked at Mud Springs, one branch leading on to the wild
camp known as Hangtown, the other turning south and heading to the
By 1851, the camp was booming. Adding to the wealth provided by the
rich placers, several quartz veins were discovered which resulted in
the erection of numerous steam quartz mills on Matheneys and Logtown
creeks. These mills, combined with the various mines and workings in
the area, provided employment to not less than five hundred men. Mud
Springs was booming, and later that year a post office was established
under that name.
While the town may have been known and referred to as El Dorado as
early as the summer of 1855, the name did not officially change until
December 15 of that year when the name of the post office was changed
to El Dorado.
By this time the camp had incorporated as a town, and included the
areas known as Empire Ravine, Dead Mans Hollow, Loafers Hollow, Logtown
Creek, Matheneys Creek, and Slate and Dry creeks.
At its peak, El Dorado had a population which numbered in the
thousands and had its “full quota of saloons, hotels and stores, and a
gold production record that gave its citizens just cause for pride.”
Such mines as the Pocahontas, the Church, the Union, and others lost
and forgotten, helped provide that gold production record, estimated at
several million dollars.
- A Stone Monument is located on the Mother Lode Highway, a little
ways west of where it joins Hwy 49. The monument gives a brief
description of the town and tells of the days when the Pony Express
made regular stops here at the Nevada House in 1860 and ’61.
- The Wells Fargo Express Office was built during the 1850’s. Located
near the stone monument, the building is still in use today, although
no longer by Wells Fargo. Look for the exposed stone wall to identify
El Dorado Town Map