Welcome to Cool

Cool, CA

Cool, CA

Sure, Shakespeare’s Juliet claims “that which we call a rose/ by any other name would smell as sweet” (2.2.43-44) and seems to indicate that the names of things/persons do not affect their true nature. As an English major, translator, and dabbler in creative writing, I know of the power and importance of connotations and have thus found this quote always confusing – yes, the name does not change the item/person but the name changes our view of the item/person, and does not it matter to us more how we view something than what it truly is? For example, the name “death tax” makes the required payment sound a lot more ludicrous than the term “estate tax” – who wants to pay taxes to die when an estate tax sounds like it would affect only the super rich?

So yes, I do pay attention to what something is called, and paying attention to names can be entertaining as I have mentioned before in my recent posting on the town Rescue in California. A nearby town in El Dorado County has an even cooler name – it is Cool, CA, a small community of about 4,000 people on the historic Highway 49. I love the potential of entertaining store and facilities’ names for the area, and there are Rosie’s Cool Taqueria, Cool Beerwerks, Cool Community Church, and Cool Christian School. Surprisingly, very few places actually make use of the great name of Cool and I just see lost advertising potential (maybe the name stops being that cool if one is around it every day).

Cool Beerwerks’ Items for Sale

I wondered whether the place got its name because of its laid-back atmosphere or its relatively cool temperatures or possibly even its especially hot weather (maybe irony was in the mix). However, the origin of the name is rather boring and traditional: The place used to be called Cave Valley because of the large limestone caverns, but was named Cool after Reverend Cool, a circuit-riding preacher in this area in the 19th century. The collection of houses, an inn, a blacksmith, and later on a post office (1885) were on the direct path of miners and merchants during the Gold Rush. So the history of the name is not as exciting or entertaining as I hoped for, but I was amused that not a historical society but actually a pizza place in Cool provided background on the name’s history (and the pizza parlor and grill is not even called Cool Pizza but American River Pizza). And even though Cool is a nice enough place, it would not really be that memorable without its name.

Gold Panning in the American River (found on the American River Pizza site)




Rescue School

On a lazy Sunday drive through the Sierra Foothills, the sign of the Rescue School with the pouty but determined Viking warrior made me smile and stop. I was wondering whether this was a school where rescuing is taught in the same way as music is taught in music school, art in art school, and dance in dance school. But the school property looked a lot like any regular American school. Without noticing, I had left the larger area of Shingle Springs behind and had entered the small, unincorporated community of Rescue, CA. The school is not teaching rescue after all.

4,461 people live in Rescue according to the Rescue Historical Society, and it was officially recognized when the Rescue post office was established in 1895. Rescue’s location on the road between Coloma and Sacramento meant that it was on an important pathway during the Gold Rush.

Rescue Store and Post Office, 1916 (found on the site of the Rescue Historical Society)

As is easily the case in Northern California, I also came across a winery, which I thought was in Rescue. I immediately liked Rescue even more – rolling hills, entertaining name, little traffic, and a winery! What else could one ask for in a town? But Cielo Estate Winery seems to be just beyond the borders of Rescue as its official address lists Shingle Springs. But looking at the map of the surrounding area revealed an even more entertaining name – Cool, CA. How cool would it be to use the address of Cool, CA (ok, I guess I am easily entertained)! At least, I have a new destination for a Sunday drive to explore, and I am sure there will be wine tastings on the way. One can always count on that in Northern California.


View Near Rescue, CA (from the Cielo Winery)