Auburn, CA

A very brief historical look

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The Town and Area

We live on 5 acres just outside of Auburn, CA, and we've been here since 1976. Auburn is located on Interstate 80, at an elevation of 1,500' in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It is about 35 miles NE of Sacramento, exactly 100 miles west of Reno, NV, and is the county seat of Placer County. The population of the city in mid-2002 was just over 11,000, however the population of the surrounding unincorporated area that has an Auburn postal address is probably triple that.

The Placer County Courthouse (right), which dates from the 1870's, has been recently restored. It again houses the county courts, with a cool museum on the first floor.

The California Gold Rush
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Auburn was founded at the beginning of the California Gold Rush in 1849, when Claude Chana (statue at left) discovered gold in the streambed of what is now Auburn Ravine Creek. Indeed, the first California gold discovery site by James Marshall at John Sutter's sawmill in Coloma is only about 20 minutes south on State Route 49. For some time, Auburn was the eastern terminus of the Central Pacific Railroad which would eventually link up with the Union Pacific at Promontary Point in Utah and become the first transcontinental rail link.

The North and Middle Forks of the American River join just below Auburn, and continue on down into Folsom Lake. Their confluence is the site of the 3rd highest bridge in the US, a span some 700' above the river. The Foresthill Bridge was built to span the lake that would be formed by the now-abandoned Auburn Dam, and has been the site of a number of stunts for films ... the latest being the opening scene in Vin Diesel's "XXX." If you are planning to visit in the area, this web site includes some brief information on accommodations. The Auburn web site is at

"The Coolie"

The Coolie is one of a number of large concrete statues created by Dr. Kenneth Fox, a local dentist. Most of Dr. Fox's work depicts characters from the Gold Rush era (another of his large statues is of Claude Chana and is in Old Town Auburn -- see above). The Chinese came (or, in some cases, apparently were brought) to Auburn to provide labor for the building of the transcontinental railroad. This statue currenly resides at the top of Lincoln Way (part of the old Lincoln Hwy, and later part of US 40), next to the old depot.


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