Placerville was founded in the early days of the Boise Basin gold rush. Placerville was located on the old trail between Horsehoe Bend (on the Payette River) and Idaho City (in the heart of the Boise Basin). Within six months of the first building going up, the population reached 5,000. Idaho had seen gold rushes before but the Boise Basin mines were profitable for a bit longer than most. However, the real peak years were 1863-1866. At the peak, Placerville had a town square with seven restaurants, thirteen saloons, five butcher shops, five blacksmith shops, one Episcopal church and several hotels, bakeries, carpenters, sawmills, livery barns and even dressmakers and a millinery shop (Boise Basin was unique among gold rushes in those days because of the significant numbers of whole families who made the trip: it wasn't just male prospectors, card sharps, gunslingers and soiled doves). As nearly every building in town was built of wood, the whole town burned several times. By 1870, the population had fallen to 318. Also by 1870, a significant percentage of the population was Chinese as the transcontinental railroad project was complete and the railroad companies involved had let go of their large Chinese work crews. Those Chinese workers scattered all across the west looking for work. Many came to the Boise Basin because they were "allowed" to work the less profitable digs in the area. The Chinese also established laundries and restaurants in the area.
Placerville is significantly smaller today. The town was nearly burned off in 1899, then burned again in 1900. The oldest buildings still standing date from 1900. In the early 1970's, a developer came to town and started to develop a small subdivision of permanent and vacation homes just above the old town. The only business in town open all year is the Village Market but summer sees an influx of tourists, national forest explorers and history seekers. Most of the older settled areas of Placerville were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 as the Placerville Historic District. It seems most of the folks in town who still work commute to Boise daily.
|Fast Facts about Placerville, Idaho|
Placerville, Boise County, ID 83666
Resident Racial Breakdown:
White Non-Hispanic: 100%
High School or Higher: 84.3%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 13.7%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 3.9%
Median Resident Age: 54.7 Years
Estimated Median Household Income: $66,500
Estimated Median Home Value: $105,100
Population Density: 56 People per Square Mile
2011 Cost of Living Index for Placerville: 83.1
Unemployed (March 2011): 13.1%
Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway - Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway
Payette River Scenic Byway - Sawtooth Wilderness - Boise National Forest
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|Photo of Placerville Cemetery courtesy of Idaho Department of Tourism.|
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