Pilot Hill is an unincorporated community in El Dorado County, California.
It is located 13 miles west-northwest of Placerville, at an elevation of
1175 feet. In 1849, mining commenced at Pilot Hill.
In 1849, mining commenced at Pilot Hill. Originally, Centerville, Pilot Hill,
and Pittsfield were separate nearby mining camps that unified under the name
Centerville. The post office came in 1854 and bestowed the name Pilot Hill.
Farm Trails - Pilot Hill is on the Farm Trails Map.
John C. Frémont and his men were probably the first white men to visit this region,
when in March of 1844 they followed an Indian trail leading out of the Sierras and
down over the foothills into the Sacramento Valley. The place takes its name from the
promontory which rises above the surrounding ravines and hills, upon which “pilot” fires
were lit to guide later travelers to the area. Before being called Pilot Hill, the mining
camp established here in early 1849 was known as Centreville. It was changed when the post
office was established on April 18 of 1854. The placers in the area were substantial and rich,
with mining activity lasting until the late 1850’s. In January of 1857, two miners found a boulder
of quartz, “literally gorged with gold.” A piece was shipped to San Francisco where it was assayed
as containing $1,760 worth of gold. The area was naturally short on water, but fortunately for the
prospectors, the mines were supplied with a steady source by the Pilot and Rock Creek Canal. The large
population in the area gleaned the gold early, and when nothing was left to mine, they left.
Virtually nothing has survived from those days to mark the once prosperous site.