Placer County is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Being born and raised in Placer County has really made me appreciate everything about it, including the small townships that are dotted along Interstate 80 and the old Highway 40.
My ancestors, the Baxter family, traveled across the plains in a covered wagon during the 1800’s and settled in Baxter, California. For those of you who are not familiar with Baxter, it is an un-incorporated town that is three miles east of Dutch Flat. Dutch Flat is another small community that burgeoned in the 1800’s during the Gold Rush.
The Baxter family would run cattle during the winter months in the mountains before driving the cattle back down to the ranch, which was just off Baxter Grade in Auburn. Along with the cattle ranch, my family also had orchards.
Before Highway Interstate 80 was built, Highway 40 was the place to stop for a bite to eat on the way to Tahoe or Reno. My family had a restaurant, a post office, which was built in 1935, a store, and even a full service gas station. All of these service centers were located on the opposite side of the freeway to where Baxter sits today.
Back then, business was booming, as travelers would need to stop their vehicles so that they would not overheat. I used to sit wide-eyed as I listened to the stories that my grandmother would tell about the good ol’ days in Baxter.
I remember the Baxter grounds being beautiful, especially the Baxter home with its wraparound porch and swimming pool. Because the water came directly from Crystal Springs it was ice cold, even the swimming pool.
When the plans for I-80 began my great grandfather, Elmer Baxter was made superintendent for the new freeway. Once everything was approved, my grandmother, Margaret Baxter Dashiell had to give up her home because of eminent domain. The summer cabins in Baxter also had to make way for the new interstate.
The Baxter business was passed down to my granny Marg who had the new, “Baxter,” built. I loved the little town and remember staying with her on weekends to help her run the Hauf Brau and the general store. The new Baxter also had a Chevron station and a post office.
I must have been all of 10 years old when I got to work in the store, and by the time, I was 12 I had learned to open the store and post office all by myself while she looked after the Hauf Brau. That little Hauf Brau was always busy thanks to the buses that stopped on the way to Reno.
By the time I was in the sixth grade I would stay the summers with my Granny in Baxter working with her during the week. Of course, I was still a kid and returned to my folk’s house on weekends so that I could water ski on Lake Clementine.
Granny loved animals, another trait that she passed down to me, was a great role model and an amazing businesswoman.
I miss my Granny and can honestly say that I am more like her than anyone else in my family. She taught me so much about life and parenting always treating me as an adult, which is the same way that I raised my son Tyson. Even to this day when I take a moment to think about her I have to smile as the tears roll down my cheeks. ~ Marsha Dashiell ~