|Cool is located
in northwestern El Dorado County at the junction of Highways
49 and 193, just before the Auburn Grade slides precipitously
into the canyon where the North and Middle forks of the American
River conjoin just south of Auburn. It’s about four
or five miles north of Pilot Hill.
did their part. They called the camp and the surrounding
community “Cave Valley,” in honor of the limestone
caverns they found in the area. Only the fact that there
already was a Cave Valley in California when the post office
was established caused a change of name to “Cool.”
“Alabaster” and “Coral Valley” were
available, but the postmaster favored the historic but bland
“Cool” was chosen to honor Aaron
Cool, a New England cleric who came overland to California
during the Gold Rush with a band of prospectors for whom
he held Sunday services alongside a wagon for the travelers.
He did his part during the journey: Besides ministering
to the sick and praying for the dead, he did not hesitate
to exchange his Bible for a six-gun when Indians attacked.
Why Is It Called
Cool is located in the lower western Sierra Nevada foothills,
and it is therefore quite hot about six months of the year,
so the name hardly reflects the town’s temperature.
Also like Rescue, Cool got its name when it acquired a post
office in 1885. The postmaster’s job is the result
of political patronage, and public officials have never
been accused of imagination or creativity in selecting town
The renaming of these two communities should
stand as an object lesson that postmasters and their buddies
should never be permitted to select names for California
historic towns. That should have been left to the Spanish
and the pioneers, although the Spanish counterpart, “Frio,”
might not have been much better. “San Frio,”
would have been nice, but there’s no “St. Cool”
in the Spanish hagiography.