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On the road: You Bet Road has mining, saloons in its history

As it turns out, there is a deep history behind this particular road name, as You Bet was the name of a mining establishment which history books report offered a wealth of gold for those willing to work for it.
Photo: Elias Funez

If you’ve driven out Highway 174 (and on circuitous roads surrounding the area), you’ve seen signs for You Bet Road.

As it turns out, there is a deep history behind this particular road name, as You Bet was the name of a mining establishment which history books report offered a wealth of gold for those willing to work for it.

You Bet mining camp was first settled and named by Lazarus Beard, son of the man whose name was given to Beard’s town, Kentucky.



In about 1857, Beard built a saloon about 12-feet by 12-feet in size on the hill opposite the town of Waloupa, 300 yards east of the present town of You Bet (using the word “town” loosely).

The ground on which the saloon stood had been washed away. People went there from Waloupa to imbibe spirited beverages and Beard located his place as a town lot.



Having done so, he asked town dwellers and bar regulars for help in coming up with a name. He called upon two particular individuals, William King and James Toddkill, who were both from Waloupa, The pair frequented the old saloon and while coming up with the requested name enjoyed free whiskey for their services, courtesy of Beard.

They made a litany of suggestions which they thought would keep them employed for a bit longer; ones that they were sure would be met with disapproval, to prolong their steady service of free alcohol.

Beard was keen on the phrase “you bet,” and as what they thought was a joke, King and Toddkill suggested that as the name of the township. Never did they think that their idea would make it past Beard nor the town. They were wrong. Much to their surprise, the town adopted the name You Bet and their supply of free whiskey was cut off.

In 1869, the town was consumed with and all but destroyed by fire. It was partially rebuilt but again in 1873 was taken down by yet another fire. All that remains of You Bet (the town) are scars of buildings and foundations one would have to dig to find.

Historian Dave Comstock wrote that in present day, the former town of You Bet still occupies about 50 residences located within a radius. It was declared a California historical landmark in 1975.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com

 


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