Monday, January 26, 2009

Yreka's Welcome Arch

Yreka's Welcome Arch graces the corner of Miner and Main Streets about 1920.

It has been read that Yrekans first saw our own Welcome Arch in 1917. It was an exciting time with travel by automobile staging a promising future! By automobile, Yreka was the midway point between San Francisco and Portland on the Great Pacific Highway. It was a common practice by cities and towns of this era, as well as later into the century, to erect a welcome arch to announce their city along major new highways! Many times the arches had abbreviated statements to advertise the area's prized features like "water" or "climate". Yreka's arch was illuminated so travelers could see the sign from a distance and know this was a progressive town and to hail a welcome to all travelers!

The image above at first glance does not seem familiar, however, looking closely one can determine the building on the right that would have been the Siskiyou County Bank (building still standing at Miner and Third Street today) and the I.O.O.F. Building at the left just beyond the figure in the image.

In the 1930's the Pacific Highway was "modernized" and the route officially changed into Highway 99. By 1931 the portion of the new Highway 99 through the Shasta Canyon was complete, but the changes were yet to come in Yreka proper. During the mid 1930's Main Street (Pacific Highway, later Highway 99) was widened through town. It was quite the project as many buildings were demolished and front yards consumed, on one side of the street or other to make room for this wider new Highway. The building on the corner of Miner and Main that one can see in the image above just beyond the tree would have been the office of the California and Oregon Power Company (COPCO). This building as well as most of the block next to it was torn down and later new more modern structures in modest Art Deco style were built. The once elegant entrance to the Yreka Inn turned into road, curb, and short driveway. Driving down Main Street today one can see where the road was widened, many buildings have virtually no front yard but those on the opposite side of the street may appear as they did prior to the reconstruction. The Yreka Arch was taken down in the 1930s during this reconstruction of the Pacific Highway into Highway 99. It was in storage and fell into disrepair until 1976 when the local Soroptimists made the move to restore and replace the sign. The citizens of Yreka helped with funding and support and in 1977 the Welcome Arch was rededicated. It now sits at the Central Yreka Interchange but seems somehow smaller at eye level. This author, for one, is pleased that our Welcome Arch is still visible for travelers and residents alike.

Another view of the Yreka Welcome Arch and a view North on Main Street from Miner can be viewed on page 20 of our book, Yreka Images of America Series from Arcadia Publishing.

Copyright, Claudia East, 2009

No comments: