The Foresthill Divide is one of the earliest explored areas of California during the Gold Rush. In 1850, R.S. Johnson and the Bannon Brothers came upon a plateau within the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Due to the dense forest of Pine, Spruce and Fir trees, they rightfully gave the town the name "Forest Hill".
Travel was limited to one route, from Auburn through Yankee Jim's and eventually connecting to the route into Coloma. At the junction of these trails, the old Forest House Hotel and a small trading post were built to fit the needs of the numerous traders, packers and miners travelling into the area to try their luck with the "Gold Fever". By 1857, Foresthill had become an important center for trade and in 1862, the Hardy-Kennedy building was erected - the first fireproof store in the area. The merchants of Foresthill are still using this building, known today as the Langstaff building.
In 1868, a report of net worth to the combined production mines in the Forest Hill area was approximately $10 million, with gold selling for $16.00 an ounce. Foresthill, regarded to be "metropolitan" by the standards of those days, featrued hotels, stores, banks, saloons, and homes surrounded by gardens and orchards. It proudly displayed its 80-foot wide main street befitting such an important place as one of the largest towns in Placer County.
Today, Foresthill is identified as California Landmark No. 399 and has hundreds of mines, along the North and Middle Forks of the American River, still today, with some still actively working.
After the gold played out many Foresthill settlers turned to logging the tall trees that cover the Divide and a dozen lumber mills were established in and around Foresthill. The harvesting of timber, just like the gold, eventually became too costly to pursue and the mills were closed, causing many of the residents to seek employment off the hill in nearby Auburn and even Sacramento.
Foresthill, however, was not “down-and-out”. With the wonderful outdoor recreational opportunities of the Tahoe National Forest, beautiful lakes and snow covered mountains, and the improvement of Foresthill Road during the 1990’s by the Federal Government, people seem to have rediscovered the Foresthill Divide.
Foresthill Road - Scenic and Historical Guide
In 1996 longtime Foresthill resident Geri Grant put together a history of the Foresthill Road that gives some insight into the varied life and charecters that the Foresthill Divide has seen since the mid 1800's.
The Foresthill Divide Museum is located in Memorial Park, Foresthill, Ca. which lies on a peninsula of land lying between the North and Middle Forks of the American River.
The land mass between the rivers is known as the Foresthill Divide or Divide for short.
The museum offers many displays that give visitors a good idea of life on the Divide in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Exhibits include Gold Rush artifacts, a logging exhibit which includes a scale model of the lumber mill, educational displays on Native Americans, recreation and transportation as well as rotating exhibits and a computer
The museum is open from the middle of May through the middle of October on Saturdays, Sundays, and major holidays from noon to 4 PM. The museum is also open during most major community events at Memorial Park. Special tours can be arranged
Ol' Joe - Wells Fargo Stage Coach Horse Memorial
On the 110-year anniversary of Ol' Joe being shot by robbers on July 3, 1901, historian Dennis Clifford and resident Shante' Warlick were interviewed by NPR radio reporter Cindy Carpen for the series "Honey, Stop the Car!".
It was May 1902 when Lyman Gilmore Jr. flew his first airplane at Big Meadows California, nineteen months before the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk. The man who made that incredible flight easily rates the title of America's most neglected genius.Lyman also owned the Gilmore gold mine in Iowa Hill.
On February 4th, 1951 Layman had a heart attack, While in the hospital attendants cut off his long beard and hair. He was also very much upset when he discovered that they had burned the old long coat he always wore. Understandably so. There was $15,000 sewed in the lining.
Learn more about the rich history of Iowa Hill at this website.