For a micro-town, Dutch Flat has racked up an impressive reputation. Much of it comes from the community’s Gold Rush prominence, but there is a growing movement to restore its one-time reputation as “the Athens of the Foothills.”
Dutch Flat –which gets its name from two German settlers --was once one of the richest gold-mining locales in California, and its prominence as an important stagecoach stop made it one of the largest and most important towns in Placer County.
For several years the town was considered as the most likely route for the planned Central Pacific Railroad, but eventually lost out to Cisco, a town 20 miles further up. During the railroad’s construction, however, the influx of Chinese workers turned Dutch Flat into the largest Chinatown outside San Francisco.
Dutch Flat mines reigned among the most productive, but until the 1870’s it was mostly a pick and shovel operation. After that the major companies introduced hydraulic, or placer, mining –which pulled more gold from the ground, but increased the environmental damage.
As the major industries in the area began to wane, the town realized that its widespread renown might draw visitors to replace the prospectors and panners. Maybe they could reconstruct the days of their popular debating and theater societies, the time when Mark Twain lectured at their Opera House, and Bret Harte mentioned them in his novels.
Interesting landmarks around the area have occasionally drawn film crews to shoot movies here; Gentle Ben I & II were both filmed in Dutch Flat and the surrounding areas.
These days, the town is a wonderful place to have a stroll on a sunny afternoon; the community pool is a perfect gathering place for friends and family and the community in the warmer months of the year. History still permeates every view and sense of the community. Neighbors know each other and help out when needed. Town events such as the 4th of July celebration draw visitors and the community annually. Dutch Flat appears to be once again a town in transition!
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