Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, October 28, 2011

Guest Author Sarah Richmond Takes Your On a Tour of Placerville

Author Sarah Richmond and her husband take a self-guided tour in a gold mine.
More information can be found at www. goldbugpark.org
I'd like to welcome to History Undressed my good friend and crit partner, Sarah Richmond! Sarah writes sweet historical romance, set in the West. Her book DULCIE CROWDER GETS HER MAN, comes out with Avalon in December of this year. Take it away Sarah!

Okay. You weren’t expecting a blog on setting. For historical writers especially, setting is most definitely one of your characters. How better to undress a setting but with details?

Placerville, CA, one of the communities
 that sprung up because of the gold rush.
While researching for those important details for “Dulcie Crowder”, I found myself in Placerville, CA in El Dorado County, where gold was discovered in 1848 at Sutter’s Mill near Coloma. Placerville used to be called Hangtown because of a white oak tree in the center of town where justice was carried out. (The stump of the hanging tree remains-- taking pride of place in a bar on Main Street).

A replica of a nineteenth century Mercantile can
be found at the County Museum. Notice the
hand bill for Mark Twain. Candy jars.
Their web site is www.co.el-dorado.ca.us
The Historical Society (524 Main Street) is housed in the Fountain & Tallman Soda Works, yes, a soda factory. The Museum is one of the few buildings to survive the fire of 1854. The docents there are knowledgeable and eager to answer any questions. They will teach you how soda water was made.

On display are a number of photographs of local personalities.  I was surprised at how small the people were in the nineteenth century. The woman’s shoes and dresses on display look like they would fit today’s sixth grader.

Placerville reconstructed after the 1856 fire.
Notice the bell tower to call their volunteer
fire department.
The Placerville Historical Museum is another treasure trove of information. The county museum is next to the El Dorado Fairgrounds where I went to visit the gun show. I found an antique dealer who showed me an old Sharps Rifle and how to fire it. The rifle has two triggers: a set trigger and one to fire. My hero had to have one. He sends for a Sharps from back East and has to show off to the heroine how the new rifle works.

A wagon built by John Studebaker.
He also made wheelbarrows.
The museum also houses steam engines.
The Museum has a number of displays depicting scenes from the gold rush era including a General Store. The miners paid for their merchandise with gold dust. Sometimes the dust fell through the cracks in the floorboards making the ground underneath the store a good place to mine for gold. John Studebaker, famous as a manufacturer of automobiles, became wealthy making wagons and wheelbarrows during the gold rush.

The website for the Placerville Historical Museum is
and islocated at 524 Main Street, Placerville.
Gold Bug Park was another stop. There’s a small museum and visitors can explore a gold mine on a tour or self-guided tour. The mine was wet and cold. Imagine being down in the mine with a lantern and pick ax and hearing that bell being rung signaling a dynamite blast. How chilling to wonder if the timbers would hold the tons of earth overhead and to fear the way out might be blocked by a cave in.

I made a quick trip to the nearby Joshua Handy Stamp Mill where the sound of the ore crusher could be heard day and night. Can you imagine the noise? That was later, after 1860 when placer mining became less productive. Maybe the next book?

These are some of the tidbits I learned while in Placerville. I hope you enjoyed the trip. You can read more about Dulcie Crowder at SarahRichmond.com

Sarah Richmond

Avalon Books
December, 2011
Sarah Richmond.com

After her father’s death, Dulcie Crowder leaves their El Dorado claim and travels to Hangtown. Her aim is matrimony and she sets her hat for the handsome deputy, Tom Walker. When Tom balks, she knows why. He wants a woman he can be proud to walk beside, so Dulcie tries hard to transform herself into a lady.
Tom has vowed to bring law and order to the hardscrabble gold rush town and knows Hangtown is no place for a wife and family. As Dulcie tries to turn his head and win his heart, he notices. So do the hoards of other lonely men in their community.
Dulcie finds out her father was hung for murder and Tom is the one who put the noose around his neck. She has to dig deep for forgiveness and wonders if the citizens of Hangtown will ever accept her as one of them. The Vigilance Society is ready to run her and other strangers out of town. There’s an election coming up and the head of the Society is standing for Sheriff.

When Dulcie discovers corruption in the judiciary during the trial of a friend, she naturally turns to Tom. The deputy looks for evidence but Dulcie has other ideas on how to catch a varmint. As they both work for justice, will she jeopardize her chances of getting her man?

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