Placerville History

Historical Placerville received its name because of placer mining in the vicinity. The ghost town is located 19 miles east of Horseshoe Bend. … By the early summer of 1863, the town had 300 buildings and a population of 5,000.

Elevation‎: ‎4,324 ft

Placerville was discovered in 1862 and during the mining peak had a population of near 5,000. A lot of foreign miners were from Ireland and the area around Placerville and Pioneer City, another mining ghost town nearby, was known as “New Dublin”. Included in the gold rush population were a large number of Chinese, Germans, French, Swiss, and Austrians. Surprisingly there were a lot of Portuguese miners from the Azores in the Boise Basin and most of them lived in Placerville. There was so much gold in the area that buildings were built up off the ground so that miners could mine underneath the structures. In 1864, Placerville alone had over 4500 recorded mining claims. President Lincoln signed an act to create Idaho Territory and Placerville officially became a town in 1864.

There isn’t a lot left to modern day Placerville. At one time there were dozens of buildings, homes, and a handfull of church buildings, but being located in forest, Placerville was nearly destroyed by forest fires in 1874, was rebuilt and then again nearly destroyed by forest fire in 1899 and by 1900 the mad gold rush was winding down.

The first building was a saloon and the walls of the still standing Masonic Hall are supposedly lined with whiskey bottles for insulation. Placerville was laid out in a street grid with a town plaza, similar to other towns many miners left behind in California before heading to the gold rush in Idaho. The remains are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


One of the older buildings. the one to the right was Built by McDivitt as a meat market and post office. It’s now used as Donna’s Place and the City Hall