Yreka - County Seat
Yreka was founded in March 1851 when an itinerant mule skinner named Abraham Thompson noticed that there were flecks of gold in the roots of grass pulled up by his pack animals. He and his three companions instantly staked their claims and began mining gold in what became known as Thompson's Dry Diggins.
Word of the find got out immediately and prospectors quickly flooded into the area from all corners of the world. The shanty town of Shasta Plains was established with over 2,000 souls in it within six weeks of Thompson's discovery of gold. Sam Lockhart operated the saloon, Mr and Mrs Lowery ran the boarding house, Reverend Godfrey held religious services, and a Mr. Turner built the very first log cabin late that same year.
The community continued to grow and changed its name several times before becoming Yreka in 1852 when Siskiyou County was formed. (Yreka is taken from the Native American name for Mount Shasta - Wyeka, also spelled Wyreka, is usually translated as White Mountain). Yreka was named the county seat for Siskiyou County and is still an important center within the county.
In its hey day Yreka was a wild and bawdy frontier town with as many as 27 saloons and its share of fires, floods, famines, epidemics and general chaos, but eventually law and order emerged and it settled down to be one of the more important communities in Northern California. More stage coach lines stopped in Yreka than in any other community in the state. In 1875 William Irwin, a citizen of Yreka, was elected Governor of California.
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