Wisconsin Hill and Elizabethtown, Placer County, California

Wisconsin Hill and Elizabethtown are situated on the southerly side of Indian Canon and about two miles from Iowa Hill. The two places are about three-fourths of a mile apart, and, were it not for a deep ravine which separates them, and the two different appellations which distinguish them, they might be considered as one village. Elizabethtown was settled by miners early in the fall of 1850, and took its name from the wife of one of the early settlers, who moved with his family to the place and opened a boarding house, his wife, Elizabeth, being the first white woman who ever visited the place. The diggings at Elizabethtown were good, and soon after their discovery the place grew to be a considerable town, sporting several provision stores and drinking saloons, the requisite number of hotels to furnish accommodations to travelers, prospectors and the sporting men who favored the place with their presence-this class being looked upon at that day, in California, as being as essential acquisitions to a town as ” round tents” and grocery stores, and without whom no place could flourish. The place grew rapidly, and was the most noted place north of Shirt Tail and south of the North Fork, until it was eclipsed in 1854 by its rivals, Wisconsin Hill and Iowa Hill. The era which marks the rise of the latter places also marks the downfall of Elizabeth,” it dwindling down until nothing remained to mark the spot where it stood but a few scattered miners’ cabins and an apology for a hotel, dignified by being called the boarding-house.”

Wisconsin Hill took its rise in 1854, and gained immense accessions to its population, caused by reports of rich and extensive hill diggings being discovered in the hill upon which the town was built, and those adjacent. About this time there was quite a mania for tunneling, and about one hundred companies were formed, who staked off claims and commenced running tunnels into the hills in the vicinity of the town. The operatives in the tunnels were men who owned shares in the claims in which they worked, yet, as every claim was owned by joint stock companies, the wages received by the working men in each was sufficient to keep up the assessments upon their own shares and supply them with sufficient means to pay their board, purchase their clothes and leave them a handsome allowance for spending money. The laboring population of Wisconsin Hill proper perhaps never amounted to more than one hundred and fifty men; but there were a number of miners on Shirt Tail and the tributaries of Indian Canon who resorted to the place weekly for the purpose of purchasing their supplies and indulging in a Sunday’s recreation, and as this class usually had plenty of money and there were plenty of inducements offered them for investment, they managed always to deposit enough in the different institutions to keep up some half dozen saloons, two hotels, several restaurants, clothing establishments, grocery stores, etc., until the spring of 1856, when the tunnels commenced to reach the center of the hills, and no rich deposits being struck, capitalists ceased to furnish the where with all to pay men for driving the tunnels, and claims were “laid over” to wait for future developments. From this time they commenced to dwindle; but soon again the hopes of the business men and property holders were revived by the completion of a turnpike road across Shirt Tail Canon, connecting the place with Yankee Jim’s, and another across Indian Canon, connecting it with Iowa Hill. But instead of these roads, inducing an increased population, by rendering the place easy of access, they furnished the superabundant population with an easy mode of transit from it to some more favored locality, where men could invest their labor to better advantage, and so the place continued to decline until the completion of several ditches leading water to the place furnished such increased facilities for washing that the few miners remaining, by washing away the hillsides by the hydraulic process, could make mining a paying business, since which a slight improvement in the business appearance of the place is perceptible. It now supports two provision and grocery stores, two butcher shops, two boarding-houses, a hotel, and several drinking saloons. The residents have also, within the last twelve months, renovated a number of the old dilapidated buildings upon either side of the street, which gives the town an improved appearance.

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