Pollock Pines, Surrounding Area and Its History



In the beginning, there were the Nisenan of the Maidu Native American tribe, together with the Miwoks.  They had a similar culture although different dialects.  They were hunters, gatherers, and fishers, a peaceful family oriented group.  They used nature without destroying it and practiced creative stewardship with the habitat, setting fire regularly to burn undergrowth, thus providing for regular new green growth for food for the animals and thus food for themselves.

In April of 1848, the Mormon Battalion, having been called back to Utah from the Mexican War by Brigham Young, traveled to a “pleasant little valley,” to await the rest of the troops.  Today the area is known as Pleasant Valley.  One of the Mormons, James Sly, found a large meadow in which to graze the stock.  This became Sly Park.  The names of these early “discoveries,” remained intact and as emigration to California during the gold rush increased, those areas became more and more inhabited by settlers.  Roads were terrible, but wagon trains and the Pony Express continued to make their way from the east in search of a better life in the wild and untamed west.  California was granted statehood in 1850 and on July 19, 1858, the first Overland Coach from the east successfully arrived in Placerville (the old Dry Diggings and now the county seat of El Dorado County) and ran regularly until the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.

The area was originally a stopping place going or coming from one place to another, but as such businesses to provide aid to the travelers began to crop up.  With that, so did residency and in 1889, the first school, the Cedar Grove School, was erected and thus the whole area became known as Cedar Grove.   In the early 1900s, a gentleman named Hiram Pollock opened a lumber mill and became very involved in land use and subdivisions.  Soon, the Cedar Grove School became known as the Pollock Pines School and the name of that area changed to Pollock Pines.

During this time, there were many families that became wealthy and owned much of the area known as Sly Park.  There were hotels, and ranches, and dairies…and several changing of hands as attrition took over.  There was a desperate need for new water sources as the area became more populated.  Ultimately, in 1951, the Bureau of Reclamation began to clear the area and build Sly Park Dam.  Storage of water began in 1954 and the resulting 41,000 acre feet capacity lake was named after Walter Jenkinson who had persevered to make it a reality.  Sly Park Campground and Recreation Area is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation but it is operated by the El Dorado Irrigation District.  The lake is kept stocked with fish by the California Department of Fish and Game.  Since Pollock Pines and the surrounding area still thrive on the tourist trade, Sly Park Recreation Area is a very important part of the economy of this resort community also known as Nature’s Wonderland.


All information provided from “The Pollock Pines Epic” by Marilyn Parker.