Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yreka a major stage destination!

Yreka, Miner Street View Circa 1905

Yreka was considered a major hub in the transportation world of Northern California for over 100 years. Yreka is half way between San Francisco and Portland and was also the major starting and ending point for most of the smaller towns and villages for a great many miles. The "stage" brought so many important things to the community. Mail being one of the most important. The miners would come to town to wait for the mail, and near the stage stop folks met and talked over all of the news of the day. In Yreka the main stage stop was along Miner Street right at or near the Franco-American Hotel. The post office was also located nearby.

The stage office (often called the express office) was a thriving business. There were big steel strapped boxes often filled with gold dust that were lifted up into the front boot under the drivers seat and secured by lock and chain to the floor. This was a security measure so if some enterprising thief wanted to hold up the stage for the gold they would have to wrangle this off themselves. On board the stage was a Express messenger that carried a sawed-off shotgun loaded with buck shot. The cost of running the stage company was no little amount, estimated to be an annual expense of $40,000 in addition to paying tolls over many of the roads they traveled. This could amount to another $12,000 a year for the rights to use the roads.

The California and Oregon system is reported to have used about 430 miles of roadway and its branches alone served from Redding to Roseburg, via Yreka, Ashland and Jacksonville; Redding to Yreka, via Shasta, Tower House, Trinity Center, Callahans, Etna and Fort Jones and others. This operation alone utilized nearly 400 horses with 20 drivers in the summer and 26 in the winter. There were 50 stablemen, 6 mechanics and horse-shoers in addition to the clerks in the offices. They ran 16 stages in summer and 21 in winter besides 2 large sleighs over Scott Mountain in snow time. Horses had to be changed every 12 miles and a new driver took the reins each 10 hours. And, this was only one of many stage lines that came through Yreka.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Methodist - Episcopal Church

Left: Three churches around Courthouse Square in Yreka, The Union Church, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, and the Catholic Church, circa 1889.

Right: The Methodist-Episcopal Church corner of Lane and Oregon Streets, 1898.

As early as 1852, only one year following the discovery of gold in Yreka, a Methodist Minister was holding services in Yreka. The first site of a Methodist Episcopal Church was on the southwest corner of Miner and Oregon Streets where the Ley Fire Station now stands. It was a humble log cabin. This little log church served the congregation until about 1854.

In early Yreka it was found that a more proper and larger church needed to be built. The various denominations, including Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian joined together to build a church at the corner of South Oregon and Lane Streets, this new church was called the "Union Church" and was dedicated in March of 1855. Later the Union Church was sold to the Methodist Conference for financial reasons. This first church building, made of whip-sawed timber and hand planed finishing lumber served Yreka until early in 1898. This original church, according to the Yreka Journal, was carefully taken down for the construction of a new church ~ the image viewed above. The corner stone for this new Methodist Episcopal Church was laid on June 11, 1898. Some of the contents laid within the corner stone were: A Holy Bible, a copy of the Yreka Journal, June 11, 1898, the names of the minister, trustees and others, and a dime found in the old church dated 1862. This new church building was completed and the formal dedication was in March of 1900.

In 1964 the current Methodist-Episcopal Church in Yreka held groundbreaking ceremony at the corner of Fairchild and Cedar Streets where the current services are held. The building in the image above was torn down in 1970. The Girdner Funeral Home currently occupies the site where a Methodist-Episcopal Church sat for 115 years.

For those of you that have our book, Yreka, Images of America Series by Arcadia Publishing will find another copy of this image as well as one on the Methodist parsonage on page 72.

Copyright: Claudia A. East
*Information gleaned from a 1980 Publication titled, Methodism in Yreka 1852 - 1980 The Yreka United Methodist Church, Authored, and compiled by Verna Bray Tyrer and Harland McDonald. Printed by Nolan Litho, Yreka, CA