Placer County, officially called the County of Placer, is a county located in northern California, adjacent to Sacramento and El Dorado counties. It ranges from the Sacramento Valley to the Sierra Nevada region and Lake Tahoe. Due to its history with the Gold Rush, Placer County is nicknamed Gold Country. Placer County spans a total area of 1,502 square miles. 1,404 square miles of that is land, and 98.4 square miles – or 6.4% - is water. Other than Lake Tahoe, Placer also claims a section of El Dorado National Forest and Tahoe National Forest as its own.
The entire county has a smaller population than the nearby city of Sacramento which has a population of 479,309.
The median age of residents in Placer County is 40 years, significantly older than the California median of 35 years. The population lives in 86% urban areas and 14% rural, with an average population density of 254 people per square mile.
Cities & Towns
Placer County is home to 5 cities and 1 official town in addition to numerous unincorporated communities.
Colfax is the smallest city in Placer County by population with 1,963 residents as of the 2010 census. The city is named after U.S. Vice President Schuyler Colfax and is home to the only known statue of him.
Lincoln is the fastest growing city in the United States (with at least 10,000 people). Its so named not after the President, but in honor of Charles Lincoln Wilson, one of the organizers and directors of the California Central Railroad.
Census-Designated Places (CDP) are unincorporated cities, towns, and villages with a concentrated population defined by US Census Bureau for statistical purposes only.
Other Unincorporated Communities:
Unincorporated communities are areas that are not governed by its own local municipal corporation, but rather administered as part of larger administrative divisions, such as a township, parish, borough, county, city, canton, state, province or country.
- Alpine Meadows
- Blue Canyon
- Casa Loma
- Elders Corner
- Gold Hill
- Lake Forest
- Soda Springs
- Tahoe Pines
- Chambers Lodge
- Clipper Gap
- Emigrant Gap
- Hughes Mill
- Landers Crossing
- Michigan Bluff
- Ramsey Crossing
- Squaw Valley
- The Cedars
- Yankee Jims
- Heather Glen
- Last Chance
- Todd Valley
- Big Bend
- Cape Horn
- Cisco Grove
- Four Acres
- Hidden Valley
- Kilaga Spring
- Monte Vista
- Secret Town
- Tahoe City
AIAN (American Indian or Alaska Native Resources) is an abbreviation used by the US census bureau to track the population in Native American/Alaska Native areas.
A Ghost Town ares abandoned villages, towns that contain substantial remains, usually period specific. According to Wikipedia, there are 3 ghost towns in Placer.
History of Placer County
In May of 1848, a man named Claude Chana found gold in the Auburn Ravine, and the fate of the region was shaped, forever. The area of the Sierra foothills boomed with the Gold Rush in the mid 19th century, bringing tens of thousands of new residents who hoped to make riches mining and panning. Gold mining was the major industry well into the 1880s, but little by little as the mines dried up, people settled in and became ranchers and farmers, or working for the newly christened Southern Pacific Railroad that connected Sacramento and California to the rest of the country. After the railroad moved its main switching yard to Roseville in 1908, that town blossomed, becoming the most populous city in Placer County today. Other towns, like Loomis and Newcastle, started as mining towns but became major packing centers for the fruit growing industry. Rocklin and Penryn took advantage of the granite found in their mines, supplying many of the materials that were used to build the state capital and new buildings in San Francisco. The 1950s and 60s were pivotal for towns in Placer County, as ranches and farms were subdivided so builders could expand the base of housing to accommodate growing families and bigger populations, forming the base of our modern day communities.
Placer County gets its name from the Spanish word for sand or gravel deposits that hold gold. The process of “placer mining” entailed washing away the gravel from pans, leaving the heavier gold. During the gold rush, Placer and El Dorado Counties saw 125 million troy ounces of gold mined which would be worth over $50 billion today.
More About Placer County
Governance & Politics
The Placer County seat is located in the town of Auburn and has been since 1851. There are 208,025 registered voters in the county with 97,815 registered Republicans and 58,257 registered Democrats. As such, Placer is a heavily Republican county, with voters consistently electing officials from the conservative party, including every Republican presidential candidate since 1980. Prior to 1980, Placer County voted for the Democratic nominee in the majority of elections and even voted for a third party candidate in 1924.
Today, the county is split between California's 1st and 4th congressional districts for the US House of Representatives, both of which are currently Republican seats.
Income and affluence:
The median household income in Placer County is $72,725, significantly more than the California median of $61,094.
But even with bountiful wages, the cost of living in Placer County is not as high as many places in California. In fact, the Placer County Cost of living index is rated at 98.5, only slightly off the U.S. average of 100.
Folsom Lake, Lake Tahoe & Other Water Ways
Placer County is the envy of other California counties for its many rivers, creeks, and lakes, like the American River, which runs through Placer on its way to Sacramento. Many residents of South Placer County and the surrounding areas is Folsom Lake. is a favorite retreat for summer days offering recreational activities such as boating, water skiing, swimming and more.
But the crown jewel of Placer County is the amazing and beautiful Lake Tahoe, which has 40.96% of its surface area located in Placer County, which is more than in any of the four other counties that can claim it. A less than 2 hour drive from Roseville/Rocklin, Lake Tahoe is the perfect weekend getaway for summers on the lake or winters on the slopes and even hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960.
Industry and economy:
Placer County enjoys a vibrant economy with many quality employers making it their home. Placer County unemployment rates and median wages are consistently lower and higher (respectively) than those in Sacramento.
The biggest industries in Placer:
Private wage or salary: 72%
Self-employed, not incorporated: 10%
The top employers in Placer County (listed with the number of jobs):
- Kaiser Permanente 3,064
- Hewlett-Packard 2,500
- Placer County 2,400
- Union Pacific Railroad 2,000
- Sutter Health 1,983
- Northstar at Tahoe 1,500
- Thunder Valley Casino Resort 1,412
- City of Roseville 1,282
- PRIDE Industries 1,135
- Raley's Supermarkets 1,006
Housing and Real Estate:
In the 2000s, real estate sales in Placer County exploded, with many luxury new home divisions built. The median home price in Placer County and Average Sales Price have risen about 5% in the last year, with stable appreciation and secure values with Placer County real estate.
Only 9.9% of homes in Placer have negative equity or are underwater, compared to the U.S. average of 16.9%. 79.9% of homeowners still have a mortgage in Placer County, with just over 20% owning their homes free and clear.
The homeownership rate in Placer County is 70.6%, with 27% of residents renting.
Homes for Sale in South Placer County
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