Dutch Flat

Dutch Flat was established in 1851 by Joseph and Charles Dornbach, two German immigrants who arrived during the Gold Rush. The two operated a general store and way station, known as "Dutch Charley's Flat," which soon evolved to just Dutch Flat (Dutch was a common corruption on Deutsch, referring to Germans, rather than Dutch from the Netherlands). Dutch Flat thrived as an important station and mining center, at one point becoming the largest community in Placer County. A significant Chinatown also developed, and by 1853 3,500 of Dutch Flat's 6,000 residents were Chinese - the largest Chinatown outside of San Francisco (the original Chinatown would burn September 10, 1877 before relocating to a site closer to the railroad tracks). In 1866, Dutch Flat lost much of its importance as a way station when the railroad reached Cisco, 20 miles east.

Mining continued to thrive nonetheless, with thousands working in the surrounding hills. In 1872, 32 claims were purchased by the Cedar Creek Company of London, who employed hydraulic mining to literally blast the gold out of the hillside with high pressure water cannons, called 'monitors.' This lasted until 1883, when the Anti-Debris Act was implemented, prohibiting the flushing of debris into streams.

In addition to mining, lumber was also a profitable industry in Dutch Flat. From 1861 until 1907, the Towle Brothers Lumber Company operated nearby. For a time, it even had its own 38 mile narrow gauge railroad and a workforce of about 200.

Today, Dutch Flat is a quiet community of around 160, just a few minutes from Interstate 80. The entire town was designated a Historic District on the National Register in 1973, and several buildings and homes dating from the 1850s still stand.

I Visited Dutch Flat
7.22.2007 & 3.11.2011

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