History of Yreka, California


History of Yreka, California

I’m Ed Smith, a car accident lawyer in Yreka. I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the history of Yreka. The history of Yreka epitomizes the spirit of California adventure and the determination that exemplifies so many of its pioneers.

The county seat of Siskiyou County, Yreka is situated in the Shasta Valley near the Klamath National Forest. Interstate 5 and Routes 3 and 96 connect it to the neighboring towns of Hornbrook, Fort Jones and Weed.

Gold Leads the Way to Yreka, California

The story of Yreka is a romantic history of adventure in the Old West and the discovery of great riches for some. It starts off with the discovery of gold in 1851, just 30 miles south along the Scott River from where the town was founded. A group of six men, headed by Abraham Johnson, were making their way from Oregon toward the area of a gold strike when they stopped for the night in a flat spot close to the future location of downtown Yreka. Two-thousand miners had arrived by June and set up a boomtown of cabins and tents.

Naming of the Town

The name of the city was taken from a word in the Shasta language, which means “white mountain” or “north mountain.” However, writer Mark Twain had a different take on the name. He said that author Bret Harte arrived at the diggings camp and that the name was acquired by accident. A bakeshop with a freshly painted sign waiting to be mounted only displayed “bakery” as the last five letters without the “b.” Someone who read it incorrectly read it backwards as Yreka, and the name was adopted by those camping there.

Chinese Immigrants Arrive in Yreka

In June 1853, Chinese started arriving from the Kwang Tung Province in Southern China, near Hong Kong,  and by 1870, there were 1,176 Chinese living in the area. Many of them worked as miners, while others ran businesses or worked as cooks or washers. Throughout the years, there were three separate Chinatowns. The first was established on the south side of Miner Street. The second was located on Main Street, but a large fire destroyed this Chinatown along with a large part of the business district in 1871. Chinese businessmen rebuilt in the same location, but this was also destroyed by fire in 1886. After a move to Center Street on the east end, flooding of Yreka Creek destroyed the third Chinatown in 1890.


Carnegie Library in Yreka, California.

Historic Buildings

A number of buildings are still in existence in Yreka from its early days and are listed as California Historical Landmark 901. The Chamberlain-Stimmel building was built in 1856 at the corner of North Oregon and West Minor as a stove shop. One of the few buildings to survive the fire in 1871, the owner, H.E. Stimmel, later expanded to sell general hardware. The building was remodeled later with the U.S. Post Office located on the first floor. The Franco American Hotel on West Minor, built in 1855 by Leon Marniesse, operated as a stage stop but also had a restaurant, saloon and Wells Fargo office, as well as other businesses. Famous visitors included President Rutherford Hayes, who serves as the U.S. President from 1877–81.



Attorney Ed Smith

Yreka Car Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, an car accident attorney in Yreka. If you have suffered an injury due to negligence, please call me at (530) 392-9400 for free, friendly advice. Outside Yreka, you can call me toll free at 800-404-5400. I also have an online form for your convenience.

I have worked as an attorney since 1982, serving the people of California.

Read reviews by my clients and peers on Google Plus, Avvo and Yelp.

I belong to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. This group is composed of the top 1 percent of attorneys who have received verdicts and settlements of $1 million or higher for their clients.

Find out more about previous cases and how they were resolved on my Verdicts and Settlements page.

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Photo Source:,_California_in_summer_2011_(3).JPG.  Courtesy of Chmee2,_California#/media/File:Carnegie_Library_Yreka.jpg



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