When the bell in the center of Hangtown rings loud, folks come to attention. Perhaps residents are reminded of days gone by when hangings were announced. Things moves a little slower than the surrounding world in this charming California gold rush town where you can see and feel remembrances of the past. For instance, an effigy of of a cowboy hangs from a noose near the 2nd story window of the Hangman’s Tree bar. The California Historical Landmark NO. 141 commemorates a tree that once flourished on the grounds of the Hangman’s Tree Saloon, possibly where the basement is now, and where it feels chilly on even the hottest days.
Several ghosts are said to live in Placerville but none are more recognized than the Hangman’s Tree ghost. It is not known if the ghost is the late Colis Huntington, the California railroad magnate who once owned the building, or the wandering soul of someone hanged, then spit upon. What is known about this spirit is that it likes to play tricks. It may move an object or make something temporarily disappear, according to one bartender there. If you need to slow down, Placerville is a great place to “hang” out. The Cary House hotel across the street from Hangman’s Saloon is said to be haunted, too.