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'Hangtown Dummy' returns to gold-rush town; not everyone thrilled

November 29, 2011 |  2:46 pm

Not everyone in the old gold-rush town of Placerville appreciates the gallows humor of one of the city’s most eye-catching attractions -- the “Hangtown Dummy.”

Since the 1930s, the thoroughly dead mannequin hung from a rope outside the Hangman’s Tree Bar on Main Street, that is until the tavern closed. And with the bar, so went the Hangtown Dummy.

On Halloween the dummy returned, Fox 40 in Sacramento reported. But not everyone in the town of 10,000 was pleased to see him back, hanging high from the flank of a faded and chipped building.

The owner of the building, for instance, thought that Hangtown Dummy ought to be lowered and taken away. The storefronts are not safe to be open and the City Council has put the property into receivership so an independent consultant can determine the best way to save the building.

In a statement, the council acknowledged that some locals believe the sight of a man meeting his death in such an Old West fashion does not represent what Placerville is about today.

But after discussing the matter, Fox 40 said, council members agreed they had “no intention of whitewashing our history” and conceded that the Hangtown Dummy offered an accurate portrayal of a small part of the history of Placerville, which enjoyed a rugged five-year stretch in the mid-1880s as being known as “Hangtown.”

For the time being, then, the Main Street dummy will be allowed to hang around.

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-- Steve Marble

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