Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yreka ~ a "birds eye view" Circa 1900

Yreka, California Post Card

In the early 1900's postcards were the fast and speedy way to send messages ~ a vintage version of emails with attached photos today! It was quite the rage and folks could "see" images from places far away they had never seen before, like the next county, or part of their own state and beyond.

In 1900 Yreka was described as a "typical mining town" and largely supported economically from the mining interests. In a news article focused on Yreka mining in 1895 from the Woodland Daily Democrat, it mentions a deposit of $10,000 just in one day from the mines in the area. By this time Yreka was connected with the outside world via the Yreka Railroad which met up with the California Pacific Railroad at Montague about 10 miles away. However, even with the railroad in place the "old fashioned" stage coach was still a major choice of travel, especially to outlying areas.

By 1900 Yreka was for most quite a "modern" city. The city water lines were in place, electricity was available, telephone lines were in place in the Courthouse and other areas in town, it was the County Seat so activity at many levels was notable. It was also the major business area for the county. In the photo above at the far left one can see the two story original public school for elementary students, in the center of the photo stands the newly improved County Courthouse with new wing additions from about 1898, along with many homes and business buildings as well as numerous roads leading to and within town. Not viewed in the image but just beyond the right margin the original County High School would have been standing proudly. (See earlier blog entry for image of High School)

A curious bit of information about Yreka happened every year around early spring. The Fire Department would wash down the main city business street, Miner Street, (getting rid of the mud and gunk ~ the streets were dirt) from the winter. Enterprising Yrekans would go down the hill a few blocks to Yreka Creek, where the slush was headed... and hunt for gold nuggets. The story goes that miners would drop small nuggets as they headed in and out of the numerous saloons along Miner Street...

Yreka was strongly connected to San Francisco at this time, as it was the major stopping point between San Francisco and Portland via the inland route. Much of the "outside worldly goods, news, and information" came from San Francisco and merchants regularly traveled back and forth for the newest techological wonders, fashions, household items and the like. San Francisco based newspapers (as well as Oakland) often included articles on happenings in Yreka and about prominant people from the area. When Yreka suffered major damage in a fire of 1871, the people of San Francisco generously donated to the city to help businesses rebuild and recouperate. When San Francisco suffered the great 1906 earthquake, Yrekans returned the favor. It is a little known fact, that Yreka gave more money per capita than any other city in the country following the "Great Quake".

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008.

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