The area encompassing Pollock Pines is in a heavily timbered mountain region situated along the ridge top on the south side of the South Fork of the American River. It is approximately 10 to 15 miles east of Placerville and 60 miles east of Sacramento on Highway 50. It includes the area from the American River on the north to Jenkinson Lake (Sly Park) and the Mormon Emmigrant Trail on the south.
This area attracted people in the beginning as a way to get from one place to another. However, as more and more people traveled through the area, some came and stayed to provide, for a fee, a service to those travelers in the form of food, drink, and shelter or improved roads and bridges.
As gold mining in the Mother Lode expanded, the demand for lumber to shore the mines and provide homes and establishments increased. Lumber mills dotted this forested area. Logging and the lumber industry played an important role in the early development of this area. It is said that almost every part of the land along the ridgetop has been logged at least twice in the past one hundred thirty years.
A few optimistic miners came to the area, and it is said some of the miners even produced a good income. For nearly every claim there was a shack of some kind.
Several hardy pioneers homesteaded the area in the late 1800’s. Among them were Samuel and Helena Butler, who built a ranch on the hillside due east of the present Forebay Lake. Roger and Zay Sherman’s ranch was located where the present Forebay Terrace Subdivision is located north of Forebay Lake. The Crocker ranch encompassed the small valley on the northeast end of Alder Drive. The Starks located in the Sly Park Valley and the Robinsons were just north of Sly Park.
The school in the area was first called Cedar Grove School, and thus the area also became known as Cedar Grove. The one-room school was erected in 1889 on the site of an early inn. It is the same location as the present Pollock Pines School. When the lumber mills moved to a new location, the location of the school often changed also. The schools were summer schools, dictated by snow and the difficulty of getting the children to school in inclement weather.
In the early 1900’s H. R. Pollock operated a lumber mill in the area. About 1937, Mr. Pollock subdivided a parcel of land along either side of the highway near the 13 mile marker. The homes built were mainly used as summer homes, therefore, simply constructed and poorly insulated. Shortly after the subdivision, the name of the school changed from Cedar Grove School to Pollock Pines School. In time, the area also became known as Pollock Pines.
The area remained a quiet summer resort community until Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), in 1959, started full swing into construction of a series of dams on the upper American River Drainage Basin. This caused an influx of construction families. Mobil home parks abounded along with new permanent residences. The school was bursting at the seams. A new school, Pinewood, was constructed in three phases and was completed in 1963. Together with Pollock Pines School, they housed over 600 students.
The population dropped somewhat as the SMUD dams neared completion and construction families moved elsewhere.
Subdivisions have sprung up in recent years along many of the ridges and valleys running off of the main ridge. A lumbering, summer-home, construction oriented community gave way to one more geared to commuters, retirees, and those providing services to these people and to the tourists traveling through the area.
Once again the school is bursting at the seams as more and more people decide to live in this beautiful, rural community. Another new school, Sierra Ridge, was opened in the fall of 1988; with yet another new school planned to replace the aging Pollock Pines School three years later.
There had been plans and hopes for more Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) dams on the South Fork of the American River for hydroelectricity and water storage. The long hoped for SOFAR project plans were completely dropped for lack of adequate financing, but the need for water and electricity for the ever increasing population continues.
All images for this chapter, and additional photos not in the original book are shown below.