El Dorado (Span., the golden), a country which, during the 16th and 17th centuries, and to some extent during the 18th century, was supposed to lie somewhere in the new world. Men's imaginations were inflamed by the riches actually discovered in Mexico and Peru, and they conceived a belief that there was an undiscovered country in which gold was even more abundant. Many attempts were made to discover it. Orellana, the lieutenant of Pizarro, reported that he had obtained definite information in regard to it on his voyage down the Amazon in 1540-'41. He pretended to have visited Manoa, its capital, and to have seen there immense treasures of gold and jewels. Martinez, a Spaniard, asserted that he resided seven months in the country, and gave full particulars in regard to its ruler and inhabitants. The two expeditions of Sir Walter Raleigh to Guiana (1595 and 1617) were undertaken in quest of this country. The faith in its existence was so enduring that Spanish expeditions on the same errand took place even in the latter part of the 18th century.
El Dorado, an E. county of California, drained by three forks of the American river and by the Cosumnes; area, 1,872 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 10,309, of whom 1,582 were Chinese. It is crossed by the Sierra Nevada. It is one of the richest mining counties in the state, and mining is the chief industry. Besides gold, rich copper ore and excellent marble are found. There is also considerable timber and tillable land. The Placerville and Sacramento Valley railroad terminates in the county. The chief productions in 1870 were 3,997 bushels of wheat, 8,642 of barley, 6,235 tons of hay, 215,530 lbs. of butter, 50,096 of wool, and 118,831 gallons of wine. There were 2,098 horses, 3,809 milch cows, 5,402 other cattle, 17,387 sheep, and 4,123 swine; 39 quartz mills for the production of gold, 21 saw mills, and 2 flour mills. Capital, Placerville.