By Laura Cole

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – A piece of Placerville history has mysteriously returned after a three year absence but you could say there is a hung jury over whether its reappearance is a good thing.

For years, a gold rush-era clad dummy hung from a noose in front of the historic Hangman’s Tree Bar on Main Street. At one point, during California’s Gold Rush, Placerville was called Hangtown because of the numerous hangings that took place in the town.

Hangman’s Tree Bar sits on the site of Placerville’s original tree where vigilantes would execute men without judge or jury.

“The actual tree stump is in the basement of that building where they used to hang people there,” said Placerville resident Stephen Tapson.

The site is even listed as #141 of California’s Historical Landmarks.

The Hangtown dummy was taken down in 2008 when the bar was closed down and now the old building’s has been red-tagged as too dangerous to occupy.

The mannequin’s whereabouts for the past three years is a mystery. Rumors range from the dummy being stolen to just being stored in a closet.

Recently, the dummy mysteriously re-appeared back in its precarious position hanging above Main Street.

A piece of Placerville history restored. But not everyone is happy with the hangman’s return.

City Manager Cleve Morris says they’re getting numerous complaints.

“You see a man hanging in your downtown…that’s probably not the visual you want to portray,” said Morris.

Annette Schoonover owns the Winterhill gift store next door to the graphic symbol of Placerville’s past. She says it’s bad for business.

“I don’t like it all. It’s very upsetting to people. It’s racist we believe. It’s offensive. It’s grotesque,” said Schoonover.

Still many Placerville residents are glad to have their mascot back…morbid or not.

“The dummy is a symbol of Hangtown,” said Tapson. “I missed him.”

However, the city is looking into whether they have the authority to remove the dummy from the historic building.

Comments (26)
  1. Susi Evers says:

    I like the dummy hanging on Main Street. I was born and raised in Placerville. I remember when the dummy got a new set of clothes (annually) just in time for Wagon Train. The town name “Hangtown” has historical significance. Anyone who does not understand about being unique to get tourists to come (and spend some money locally) should just leave the area. ~ Sincerely, Susie Orelli

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