In 1849 three men were hung from an old oak tree in a gold mining supply camp that was thereafter known as Hangtown.
Across the street from the hanging tree was the El Dorado Hotel, where women, cards, food and drink easily parted men from their gold. Legend has it that, shortly after the town earned its name, a miner who had been eating nothing but canned beans for months struck it rich. He sauntered into the El Dorado with a leather pouch full of gold and requested the most expensive plate of food available.
At the time, three foods were most difficult to come by (and were therefore the most expensive): eggs which had to be carefully transported, bacon brought in from the east coast, and oysters that were carried in barrels of cold sea water over 100 miles from San Francisco. The cook tossed them all in a skillet and named it the Hangtown Fry.
At a whopping $6 a pop (about $200 today), it quickly became a symbol of wealth among miners. Over time Hangtown became Placerville, and the El Dorado Hotel burned to the ground, but the Hangtown Fry lives on as a signature Northern California dish.