The Foresthill Divide is one of the earliest explored areas of California during the Gold Rush. In 1850, R.S. Johnson and the Bannon Brothers came upon a plateau within the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Due to the dense forest of Pine, Spruce and Fir trees, they rightfully gave the town the name “Forest Hill”.
Travel was limited to one route, from Auburn through Yankee Jim’s and eventually connecting to the route into Coloma. At the junction of these trails, the old Forest House Hotel and a small trading post were built to fit the needs of the numerous traders, packers and miners travelling into the area to try their luck with the “Gold Fever”. By 1857, Foresthill had become an important center for trade and in 1862, the Hardy-Kennedy building was erected – the first fireproof store in the area. The merchants of Foresthill are still using this building, known today as the Langstaff building.
In 1868, a report of net worth to the combined production mines in the Forest Hill area was approximately $10 million, with gold selling for $16.00 an ounce. Foresthill, regarded to be “metropolitan” by the standards of those days, featrued hotels, stores, banks, saloons, and homes surrounded by gardens and orchards. It proudly displayed its 80-foot wide main street befitting such an important place as one of the largest towns in Placer County.
Today, Foresthill is identified as California Landmark No. 399 and has hundreds of mines, along the North and Middle Forks of the American River, still today, with some still actively working.