Touted as “The Best Little Town in California” by the local community web page, Loomis displays the small town charm typified by popup populations who settled in an area and proceeded to create a place where their families could thrive. Rolling hills, verdant forests, wide comfortable streets with hand-painted storefronts and quaint turn of the century buildings typify this American town north of Sacramento in Placer County.

The discovery of gold in the area in 1848 brought tens of thousands of miners from around the world, in addition to many more thousands intending to provide goods and services to the miners. Placer County took its name from the Spanish word for sand or gravel deposits containing gold. Miners washed away the gravel, leaving the heavier gold, in a process known as “placer mining.”

The Placer post office opened on the site in 1861, then changed its name to Smithville in 1862. (The name Smithville honors L.G. Smith, who was one of the town’s most prominent leaders.) The name was changed to Pino in 1869, and in 1890 the Southern Pacific Railroad finally decided on Loomis. The railroad and Post Office found that Pino was confused with the town of Reno, hence the name change to Loomis.

Gold mining was a major industry through the 1880s, but gradually the new residents turned to farming the fertile foothill soil, harvesting timber and working for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The cornerstone of Placer’s beautiful and historic courthouse, which is clearly visible from Interstate 80 through Auburn, was laid on July 4, 1894. The building itself was renovated during the late 1980s and continues to serve the public today with courtrooms, a historic sheriff’s office, and the Placer County Museum.

Loomis and Newcastle began as mining towns, but soon became centers of a booming fruit-growing industry, supporting many local packing houses.

The 1960 Winter Olympics were hosted in Squaw Valley, which is located in Placer County.

Loomis takes its name from one the of town’s pioneers, James Loomis. At one time, James Loomis was the whole town—saloon keeper, railroad agent, express agent, and postmaster. In the early part of the 20th century, Loomis was the second largest fruit-shipping station in Placer County.

Loomis remained part of unincorporated Placer County until December 17, 1984, when the Town of Loomis officially incorporated. The Town was in danger of being annexed by its neighbor Rocklin and the residents voted to incorporate to preserve local control, partly on the issue of preserving the “small town” character and historic structures such as the High Hand and Blue Goose fruit packing sheds which sit between Taylor Road (a segment of historic Highway 40) and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Drug Dependence Threatening

The long list of local rehab centers for Placer County tells the sad story of alcoholism and substance abuse that is unfolding across many small towns in America. Northern California has seen more than its fair share of this problem; far more Californians die from drug poisoning each year than die in car accidents. More than twice as many Californians die of drug overdoses than are murdered.

Drug overdose deaths are most common in Northern California, where the opioid epidemic is particularly rife. Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.

Fortunately, facilities are working hard to step up to the challenge of providing effective rehabilitation. Many excellent centers are available to provide assistance to those who are ready to get help to end the cycle and seek a drug-free life. The biggest challenge for many is in accepting the fact that help is needed.

The word “addiction” is defined as: “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”

As described in alcoholrehab.com: “The fear of withdrawal, what is involved in rehabilitation treatment, in what is essentially a journey into the unknown, and the very real, immediate fear of how you will possibly cope going forward without your ‘crutch’ are all part of this immensely powerful fear factor.”

The desire to allay fear can lead then to that time-tested avoidance mechanism: denial.  In the early stages, “diagnosing” addiction can be considered to be subjective, opinion based. When combined with the stigma attached to being an addict or an alcoholic, it’s not surprising that many are reluctant to apply that label to themselves.

Fear and denial can be faced. There are myriad qualified professionals dedicated to helping one take the next step and the one after that. But while help may be offered, no-one can take that first step for another: it is a courageous, solo leap.

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