Community Profiles – Shingle Springs, Part 1
In March of 1849, a company of ten men left Monroe, Michigan determined to cross the plains and settle in California.
A man named Kertland was the captain of the company, which consisted of David B. Scott, D. Ashley, A. Lawyer, George Withington, and Messrs. Sweeney, Stephens, Bisby, Buckley and Wilson.
They proceeded to a place that would later be called Ragtown, where they camped and sent Scott ahead to scout the countryside as far as Sacramento and look around for the place where they could do the best in California (Ragtown was a trading post set up around 1850 on the Carson route, just west of the Nevada desert and east of the mountains of the Sierra Nevada).
In the company of a Dr. Richard Ormsby, Scott scouted westerly and camped at a site heavily dotted with sugar pine and oak, near beautiful clear springs. Delighted with the location, he returned to his company, which by that time had crossed the Sierra Nevada and reached Sly Park. He then travelled with them west to Sutterville (Sacramento), where the company ultimately split up.
Ormsby and Scott then joined forces with Withington, William Van Alstine and the Bartlett brothers, Henry and Edward. Together, they travelled back to the place where Ormsby and Scott had earlier camped and erected a horse powered shingle machine that could produce sixteen thousand shingles a day, worth $50 to $60 a thousand in Sacramento. From this simple beginning, grew the town we now know as Shingle Springs.
The first public house was built by Edward Bartlett in 1850 on a hill near the springs. Called the Shingle Springs House (and later the Locust Inn), it was a popular stopping place for travellers looking for food, drink and a place to stay the night. Some time later it became a general store kept by E. M Hiatt, a gentleman from Missouri, and then the town’s first U. S. Post Office, which opened for business on February 3, 1853 with D. T. Hall as postmaster.
In 1851, a year after the Shingle Springs House was constructed, another public house, the Missouri House, was built a short distance to the east, followed the next year by R. S. Wakefield’s Planter’s House. Behind the Planter’s House, on Shingle Creek, A. P. Catlin and S. C. Cutler built a steam saw mill. The mill was in operation for about two years, selling lumber for as much as one hundred and fifty dollars a thousand board feet immediately after the fire of 1852 in Sacramento.
Although the shingle and lumber business was profitable, the place was also surrounded by rich placer mines and the canyons and gulches were soon full of prospectors and their simple cabins.
For the first seven years or so, there were no stores in Shingle Springs so miners had to travel about one mile east to the former village of Buckeye Flat for supplies.
Named for the first settlers, some men from Ohio, it had three stores, kept by Henry Kingsley, Henry Yealing and Fred Heldman, and one hotel, which was owned by a Mr. Rockwell. Now only a named spot on old maps, it’s demise started in 1857 when the first store in Shingle Springs opened near the Planter’s House, much closer and more convenient to the mines.
Within a few years Shingle Springs became not much more than a way-station for travelers between Sacramento, Placerville and the east. Nearly all of the small mining claims had played out and had been consolidated into vast ranching estates. Most of its inhabitants had packed up and left for home or richer claims and thus, Shingle Springs was well on its way to joining Buckeye Flat on the rapidly growing list of Gold Rush ghost towns. Then, on the sixteenth of June in 1865, the tracks of the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad reached Shingle Springs and the town again boomed.
New buildings went up almost over night. A new post office and an express and telegraph-office appeared, along with an 800 foot long railroad depot. Immediately it became one of the largest towns in California and a huge shipping center. Not only were the supplies for most of the rest of El Dorado County passing through here, but ...