“Every Exit up I-80” a Series

Every Exit up Interstate 80 – Dutch Flat, a ghost story

My Wife and I moved to Grass Valley in 2011.  Up until then the only thing I knew about Grass Valley was that it was two words on the signs on Interstate 80. Since the move, I have had a quest to venture off of every exit on I-80,  east of Colfax. With a little help from my wife,  kicking me out of the house for the day, I started out on my adventure.

This is the beginning of a three, or four, or more part series. I did not take photos at every exit, or from every exits area, as it just was not that interesting. I am surprised so far with what I have found.

Today’s installment I leave Colfax heading east. I only get as far as the Alta exit as I spent most of the day in Dutch Flat, (In my head I am sounding just like good ole Huell Howser).

This is not a long dirt road 4 wheel drive adventure, (it would take forever to do that as there are vastly more dirt roads than paved). Instead, this is a simple jaunt off of each exit going as far as the pavement would allow.

Like I said, I did not take pictures at every exit but I did take each exit so far. Some will just be explained like Exit 140 – Secret Town/Rollins Lake Rd. Rollins Lake Road goes back where we came from, west. It goes to Rollins Lake obviously, but it is also somewhat of a shortcut back to Highway 174. Secret Town…..hmm, is a pretty good secret. All I found was some housing developments, a hydro-electric facility and the cell phone antenna I get my service from, ( I felt like cleaning the antennas off that were pointing back towards my house but…I had an adventure to continue).

I’m going to skip exits 143 & 144 Gold Run for now and take Exit 145 Ridge Rd and head on down to Dutch Flat, Ca.

It’s only a short trip from the Interstate, about a mile and a half. I’m not going to get into the history of Dutch Flat, (you can Google it if you want) but what I will say is it is one of the most well preserved gold rush towns I have ever seen! Everything,  and I mean everything, is as it was, except as I found out, the Hotel had added a third floor at some point.

This is not a tourist trap. There are no Starbucks, or McDonalds’. This town is a throwback in time. Nearly the entire town are well preserved 100 year old houses, or so it seemed to me. The safe below was in the General store, not in use anymore.

The post office is unmanned for the most part.

I would think the interest on this reward below would be in the millions by now.

I parked, grabbed my camera and started walking around, (ever get that feeling that everyone knows you are not from here)?  With a camera in hand I feel people think, “He’s just a tourist”

I met a very nice lady working at the general store. I mentioned the hotel seemed to be locked, she looked towards the back of the hotel for a car and said, “Well she’s there, just knock on the door of the next house down the street, she’s probably there”. She then asked me if I knew about the cemetery and she gave me directions.

Above: at the Placer County museum, a little free library.

Before going to the cemetery (I’m not that into cemeteries), I start to walk the streets. It’s like walking the streets of Disneyland or maybe Knotts Berry Farm, there is something fun about walking down the middle of streets. I could not stop thinking about how well preserved this town is, (there must be a rule about not building new houses, I thought). So quiet and clean. I walked up and down all three streets.  At one point I was taking a photo from across the street and a lady stopped in her car and asked, “Did you get it?”.  “Not yet” I replied.

(this is the shot after I moved in closer)

I left town and headed up to the cemetery a short drive up a hill behind town.

As I left, an elderly lady pulled up in a red sedan, “Is there a funeral here today?” she asks.  “Here? I hope not” was my quick response. (I had to check my phone to make sure I was still in 2018 and had not been mysteriously transported back to the gold rush days of 1888).”Oh” she says, “I had a friend pass away the other day and I thought I was supposed to be here at 1p.m.” . “Well, I’ll let them know you showed up if I see them” I said, (with a smirk on my face). I turned away for a second and as I turned back to wish her good day…she was gone, vanished, I couldn’t believe it, where did she go…and her car?? (she and her car were gone, without a sound, without a trace).

As I was leaving I stopped for one more shot from up behind the church and as I knelt down to take it, I looked up to the sky and winked as if to say, “Good one” 😉

The Alta exit, Exit 146 was a long loop from the Ridge Rd Exit 145.


Leave a Reply