Only three years after the discovery of gold, the fast-growing county
was formed from portions of Sutter and Yuba counties on April 25, 1851
with Auburn as the county seat. Placer County took its name from the
Spanish word for sand or gravel deposits containing gold. Miners washed
away the gravel, leaving the heavier gold, in a process known as "placer
Gold mining was a major industry through the 1880s, but gradually the
new residents turned to farming the fertile foothill soil, harvesting
timber and working for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Auburn was settled when Claude Chana discovered gold in Auburn Ravine in
May 1848 and later became a shipping and supply center for the
surrounding gold camps. Auburn is the home of the Placer County Office
of Education administrative facilities. Auburn Union Elementary (six
schools), Ackerman Elementary (one school), and the Placer Union High
School District PUHSD (four schools) serve the students of the Auburn
Roseville, once a small agricultural center, became a major railroad
center and grew to the county's most populous city after Southern
Pacific Railroad moved its railroad switching yards there in 1908.
Students and faculty of the Roseville area are served by the Roseville
City, Dry Creek Joint Elementary, Eureka Union, and Roseville Joint
Union High School Districts.
Loomis and Newcastle began as mining towns, but soon became centers of a
booming fruit-growing industry, supporting many local packing houses.
Loomis Union has four schools in this community. Newcastle Elementary,
Ophir Elementary and Placer UHSD provide services to students K-adult
with one school each.
Rocklin began as a railroad town and became home to a number of granite
quarries. Rapidly growing Rocklin now vies with Roseville for the honor
of being Placer's largest city. The Rocklin Unified School District is
rapidly expanding its existing thirteen schools and building new schools
to accommodate this growing community.
Lincoln and Sheridan continue to support ranching and farming. Lincoln
also is the home of one of the county's oldest businesses, the Gladding
McBean terra cotta clay manufacturing plant established in 1875. The
Western Placer Unified School District has seven school sites in the
Foresthill was a lively gold mining town for many years, but gradually
the timber industry grew, and was until recently the major employer.
Recreation is now the major industry in this area of sparkling
reservoirs, pristine trails, and ample camping facilities. Foresthill
Union School District provides for students K-8 on two school sites.
Placer UHSD is currently building a new high school that opens in the
fall of 2004.
Colfax began life as railroad construction camp in 1865. The following
year gold was discovered. The Rising Sun, Montana and Meda mines were
rich gold producers. Colfax Elementary School District meets the needs
of students K through eighth grade while Placer UHSD serves the high
school students. Just above Colfax is the smaller community of Alta
Dutch Flat which has its own one-school district.
Weimar was established as the timbering center of New England Mills and
later became the home of the Weimar Institute, a regional tuberculosis
sanitarium. When a cure for TB was discovered, the medical center
closed, and is now a health and nutrition center. Placer Hills Union
School District has three schools in this area; Placer Hills and Sierra
Hills (in Meadow Vista) and Weimar Hills.
Lake Tahoe (North Shore) and Truckee residents are served by twelve
schools in this mountain region bordering the lake and the Cal-Neva
The Placer County Office of Education provides a multitude of services
for the diverse demographic, topography, and socioeconomics of this
county, early childhood to adult lifelong learners.
All the historic information above was provided by the Placer County
Information Office www.placer.ca.gov
and the Placer County Museums. You can relive much of the history of
Placer County by
six museums in Placer County.