Pondering the past

Clarksville Day will give wrecking-ball slated ghost town a chance to shine
By: Don Chaddock, The Telegraph
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Dozens of volunteers donned gloves and hauled trash out of Clarksville so the once-thriving town can have another chance to shine before it faces bulldozers for commercial development in a few years. El Dorado Hills is built on the bones of Clarksville, but there is still a small area containing about a dozen structures and a stretch of the original Lincoln Highway that most don’t even know still exists. With the traffic noise of Highway 50 in the background, the El Dorado Hills Fire Department and volunteers from the Clarksville Region Historical Society turned out in force Saturday to put some muscle into getting the town ready for a big bash taking place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 9. “This is all for our third annual Clarksville Day,” said Betty January, president of the historical society. “This is the first time we’ve had it at the actual site.” She said it should be a real treat for those attending the event. “We’ve had it in the past at the library,” she said. “People get to come in and see some of the buildings that are falling down. They’ll get to see the Kyburz house, built by Samuel Kyburz in the 1860s.” Pat Thompson, with the historical society, was excited to see so many turn out to help with the cleanup. “We’re happy to be here,” she said. “We have a lot of people and the fire department is doing a great job.” January said she was surprised by how quickly the town had been cleaned up with so many helping hands. The town dates back to the last 1840s. “Clarksville was founded around 1847, first with the Mormon Tavern,” January said. “This town was a gateway to the gold fields. It’s had many ups and down. Clarksville is a ghost town, but it was a town here in history.” According to January, Clarksville was bought up and renamed El Dorado Hills in the early 1960s. Ken Allen, of Placerville, is a charter member of the historical society. He became involved because he is interested in emigrant history. “I belong to a lot of emigrant trail associations and the Lincoln Highway Association,” he said. “They’re supposed to preserve a lot of this roadway.” Sharon Low, also a member of the group, said she was excited about showing off the historic town site. “I think it’s beautiful because it’s going to show the town more true to itself without all the discarded stuff,” she said. “It shows the buildings, rocks and green. And, it’s spring, and that makes it even prettier. It’s a beautiful valley.” Clarksville is located off of White Rock Road near Highway 50. The remaining buildings are located on private property that is slated for commercial development. The crew filled an entire dumpster that was donated by Waste Connection, January said. The fire department also donated their time. Don Chaddock may be reached at