In 1851 dozens of newspapers rolled off of printing presses in one of the few towns in the territory of California. The top of each paper had the words "Mountain Democrat" printed in bold, black letters. Residents of Placerville, CA snatched-up those papers, looking for news about any new places where gold might have been discovered.
Now in 2006, residents of Placerville, CA continue to read the latest issues of the Mountain Democrat. That local publication can now claim to be the oldest newspaper in the state of California. Now, however, the Democrat does not limit its news stories to whatever can be printed on paper. Now the paper also posts an online version of the news in Placerville, CA.
Over the years, the Mountain Democrat has published many different stories about the news in Placerville, CA. In 1856 the paper covered the area's three terrible fires, fires that destroyed many of the local businesses. In 1865 the paper ran a follow-up to that story. In that year the paper had residents reading about the placement of a bell in the town tower. That bell would serve as a much-needed fire alarm.
For a while the paper ran many ads for cars made by Studebaker. That was when John Studebaker conducted business on the main street of Placerville, CA. The automobile maker and business man must have heard about the wonderful climate in Placerville. The city is located between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe. It lies above the state's "fog line," but below the snow line.
The paper did not have many big stories while Studebaker did business on Main Street. In fact, the paper completely missed some of the area's biggest stories. For example, the Democrat was not around when John Sutter discovered gold at a point just 10 miles from the town that would become Placerville, Ca. It also missed coverage of the trial that gave the town its nickname, "Hangtown."
Yet as word about Placerville and its gold spread across the U.S., many Americans traveled to California. One man who came to the Sunshine State was William Weldon. He established the town of Weldon, CA. That town had its first store in 1920. Now in 2006, Weldon, CA has many stores. A steady line of shoppers passes through the doors of one store, a store known as Paul's Place.
Present-day shoppers in both Weldon and Placerville pay for their purchases with cash, check or credit card. They do not handle the gold nuggets that were once used by at least some of the local shoppers. The first shop owners in the area of Placerville, CA had customers who had retrieved placer gold from the nearby river bed.
Those customers typically spent the day panning for gold in the river between the Spanish Ravine and the Town Plaza. Then they would bring their gold nuggets into the store that had opened its doors in Placerville, CA. Perhaps some of those gold nuggets paid for one or more issues of the local paper, the Mountain Democrat.