Confidence Engine Company 1860,
The early 1850s found ol’ Hangtown up one minute and down the next, but always hanging tough! The irrepressible ravine city was forever boomin’ or bustin’! In 1852 the little metropolis was thriving, and rapidly gaining renown as the bustling hub of activity in the heart of the mother lode. The picturesque structures along Main Street were in a constant state of metamorphosis. The tinder dry buildings were forever burning down, abandoned, or completely renovated.
Main Street itself, for whatever reason, never seemed to change. The real estate changed hands, and the ramshackle, rough-sawn facades were gradually replaced by brick and iron, but the dusty, rut-riddled boulevard held tenaciously to its steady, time-honored course; passed the courthouse, down the grade, and widening for its familiar promenade at the bellower, before narrowing at the Round Tent and making a beeline passed the cozy inns and the dimly lit saloons.
The already infamous settlement gradually spread northward into Bedford’s tent city and eastward up Hangtown Creek. Eventually referred to as upper and lower town, the long narrow settlement was bisected by a crossing near Blair’s Lumber Yard where upper town proceeded eastward along the creek until gradually petering out just short of Smith Flat, home of Three Mile House and the Blue Lead Mine.
By June of 1852 Hangtown was bone-dry and cactus thirsty! The higher elevations held a deep luxurious snow pack and the creeks were running high, but below three thousand feet, the purple vetch was drying up, the roads were dusty, and the creeks were choked with mud!