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Valley is a vital part of The Georgetown Divide, located
primarily off of Marshall, Greenwood, Black Oak Mine and Garden
Valley Roads roads, nestled in the chaparral between Greenwood and
Kelsey. The Divide itself got its name because the whole area is
divided by the South and North Forks of the American River, setting if off
in a very private, scenic setting. Garden Valley is about 4 beautiful miles
above the gold discovery town of Coloma and 4 equally scenic miles to
Georgetown, and about 8 easy miles to Cool and Pilot Hill about 20-25 minutes through more rural beauty to
Placerville off Hwy 50 and about 30 minutes to Auburn off of Hwy 80. Previously a booming
mining town, now Garden Valley is a community with a shining and very active "community
spirit" featuring activities such as its famed People's Mountain Market
in the Summer, 4th of July Parade, October Harvest Festival, Community Forums,
Easter Festival, and also Hot August Picnic & Dance,
Christmas in the Park and a New Year's eve celebration (often featuring live
bands and open mike at the Grange). Most of these activities take place in Garden Valley
Park and Marshall Grange and often have live music and always lots of
The community also gathers for
home-baked goodies and open mike at the Bistro held at the Grange Hall on the 1st Saturday
night of the month on Marshall Rd, above Sierra
Foothills Realty and Rose's Cafe. The noted Garden Valley Staging area for
horse trailers is
off of Meadowbrook Rd., from Hwy 193 and has trails leading all over the
Divide to Georgetown and include the Western States Trails. These are just a few of the
things that make Garden Valley so special to its residents.
Crafted at a community meeting with about 20
participating in 2002.
We are a thriving community
that values sustainable rural living.
We are giving and loving folks
who nurture the diversity of individuals
and the strength of the whole.
And we have fun doing it!
PREVIOUS COMMUNITY GRANT
From its earliest days,
Garden Valley has a been noted for its stately stands of oak trees --Black
Oak, White Oak, Spanish Oak and Live Oak and its fruit and vegetable gardens that helped
feed the 49ers--and many residents today.
It all happened around
the fall of 1849 when a group of men from New York climbed out of Coloma, past
the falls of Dutch Creek. The went up the first branch which was soon named
Johntown Creek for about 5 miles until they came to a rocky dyke which they
named Stoney Point. It is here, a short distance above Stony Point that the
stream divides into branches--Empire Creek and Manhattan Creek. The group
split. Part of the group went right with George Phipps up Empire Creek and
formed George's Camp (Georgetown). The remaining explorers followed the left ,
Manhattan Creek. Some camped at the flat where the two creeks joined. This was
John's camp, hence Johntown, just a stone's throw above Garden Valley.
SAWMILL & STORE
A saw mill was built
about 1/2 below the Johntown site by John Cody and Samuel and Thaddeus
McConnell. This was the second saw mill in the mining region. The saw mill
stood on a reef of rock on the north-side of Johntown Creek, a little
below the present Community Hall. In 1851 a larger store was built by
the McConnell's on the hillside above the mill. Most of the merchandise sold
in their store came around the Horn, and they had a very good grade. Lumber
from the mill was sold locally and any surplus found a ready market in
Sacramento, where it sold for $300 per thousand. Most of the lumber was sawed
in boards 30 inches wide. The two story store burned in the fire of June 1857
which destroyed most of Garden Valley.
About a mile south
of the mill, (and 1.5 miles south of Johntown) George and Stephen
Pierce, two brothers, took possession of a piece of land and planted
vegetables. This was called "Happy Flat Ravine." That fall they sold
to the McConnel brothers. Thaddeus planted another garden there the following
springs, and built a house, one room of which as used as a trading post. This
location was referred to as "the Garden" and vegetables were sold to
the neighboring camps.
At a July 4 celebration
dinner, vegetables were served from the McConnell and Cody gardens (owners of
the saw mill), and it was at this time the name of Garden Valley was proposed.
When the post office was established there in December 16, 1952, Garden Valley
was the named used.
Also, the name of the
adjacent camp of Johntown persisted for many years and was listed as the
voting-precinct through-out the 1850's.
William Gibbs, who
arrived at Garden Valley August 25, 1850, described the camp at Johntown:
There were a few
miners there working the creek, and a store and boarding house kept by a man
named Fog Baty. The building was located on that beautiful flat at a point
where Manhattan Creek enters Johntown Creek. We camped there one night on
our way to Georgetown. . . .Soon afterwards the town began to build up.
Large oaks stood all over the flat. Johntown Creek was very rich from its
junction with the Manhattan Creek to Alabama Flat.
Garden Valley was
destroyed by fire 1857.
TELL'S STORE (FILIPPINI's STORE)
First established in
early 1850s, Bill Tell's store was one that was rebuilt after the 1857 fire by Wm. Pedrini. In 1859 Rinaldo Filippini,
a nephew, arrived from Switzerland and was given a job in the store and later when
it was reorganized in 1875, the store became known as the Filippini store. A
sign out front said:
R. Filippini & Co.
(Groceries, Provisions, Liquors, Dry Goods, Boots, Shoes, Blasting Powder,
Fuse, Etc) and "Choice
butter and cheese always on hand" and in small print:
"interest will be charged on all bills after 60 days."
Rinaldo Filippini died
on September 22, 1909. His widow and others continued to operate the old store
until 1948 when it was gutted by fire. Today, only a few stone walls remain to
remind area residents of the time when Filippini and Co. was Garden Valley's
The first school was
built on top of Dry Creek Hill. In 1881 a new building was located nearer
Garden Valley, on what was later known as the "Black Oak Mine" road
(near the old Chinatown). At the time J. M. Miller was the teacher and there
were 55 students. When the Taylor mine reopened in 1888, the enrollment
stayed high for a number of years. It is said the favorite playground was
across the road under an old apple tree and it was not uncommon for the
children to find small nuggets in the ruts in the road after a rain had washed
them up. The school property was later part of the Black Oak Mine. In 1930s
the enrollment rose again because of renewed mining activities. In 1934 Warren
Russel, one of the students, said there were 35 students and Margaret Kelly
was the teacher.
After finishing grammar
school on the Divide, it was necessary to go to Placerville or Auburn to
attend High School and this meant boarding in town as there were no buses to
transport the pupils until many decades later.
Most of this information Taken from "Hidden in the
Chaparral" by Phyllis Gernes, long time Garden Valley Historian.
This is a chronicle from 1848 to 1942 of the Gold Rush towns of
Spanish flat, Kelsey, American Flat and Garden Valley, copyright 1979.
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