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Yreka, California
City of Yreka
Downtown Yreka in 2011
Downtown Yreka in 2011
Location in Siskiyou County and the state of California
Location in Siskiyou County and the state of California
Country United States
State California
County Siskiyou
Incorporated April 21, 1857
Government
 • Type Council–manager
Area
 • Total 10.06 sq mi (26.05 km2)
 • Land 9.98 sq mi (25.86 km2)
 • Water 0.07 sq mi (0.19 km2)  0.72%
Elevation
2,589 ft (789 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 7,765
 • Estimate 
(2019)
7,518
 • Density 752.93/sq mi (290.70/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP code
96097
Area code 530
FIPS code 06-86944
GNIS feature ID 1652661

Yreka ( wy-REE-kə) is the county seat of Siskiyou County, California, United States, near the Shasta River; the city has an area of about 10 square miles (26 km2), most of it land. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 7,765, reflecting an increase of 475 from the 7,290 counted in the 2000 Census. Yreka is home to the College of the Siskiyous, Klamath National Forest Interpretive Museum and the Siskiyou County Museum.

History

In March 1851, Abraham Thompson, a mule train packer, discovered gold near Rocky Gulch while traveling along the Siskiyou Trail from southern Oregon. By April 1851, 2,000 miners had arrived in "Thompson's Dry Diggings" to test their luck, and by June 1851, a gold rush "boomtown" of tents, shanties, and a few rough cabins had sprung up. Several name changes occurred until the little city was called Yreka. The name comes from the Shasta language /wáik'a/, for which Mount Shasta is named. The word means "north mountain" or "white mountain".

Mark Twain tells a different story:

Harte had arrived in California in the [eighteen-]fifties, twenty-three or twenty-four years old, and had wandered up into the surface diggings of the camp at Yreka, a place which had acquired its mysterious name — when in its first days it much needed a name — through an accident. There was a bakeshop with a canvas sign which had not yet been put up but had been painted and stretched to dry in such a way that the word BAKERY, all but the B, showed through and was reversed. A stranger read it wrong end first, YREKA, and supposed that that was the name of the camp. The campers were satisfied with it and adopted it.

Poet Joaquin Miller described Yreka during 1853–1854 as a bustling place with "... a tide of people up and down and across other streets, as strong as if a city on the East Coast". Incorporation proceedings were completed on April 21, 1857.

State of Jefferson

In November 1941, Yreka was designated as the capital of the proposed State of Jefferson, a secession movement along the Oregon and California border.

Geography

Phloxhirsuta
The Yreka Phlox (Phlox hirsuta) is the city's official flower.

Yreka is located at approximately 2,500 feet (760 m) above sea level in the Shasta Valley, south of the Siskiyou Mountains and north of Mount Shasta, a 14,000 ft (4,300 m) dormant volcano which towers over the valley.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.1 sq mi (26 km2), of which 10.0 square miles (26 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.72%) is water.

Natural history

The official city flower of Yreka is the Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsuta).

The only known specimen of Calochortus monanthus, the single-flowered mariposa lily, was collected near Yreka along the banks of the Shasta River by botanist Edward Lee Greene, in June 1876.

Nearby settlements

Nearby places include:

  • Montague: 6.4 miles (10.3 km) east
  • Grenada: 11.5 miles (18.5 km) southeast
  • Fort Jones: 17.2 miles (27.7 km) southwest
  • Klamath River: 24.3 miles (39.1 km) northwest
  • Hornbrook: 15.1 miles (24.3 km) north

Climate

According to the Köppen climate classification system, Yreka qualifies as having a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa), but almost qualifies as having a warm-summer Mediterrean climate (Csb).

Climate data for Yreka, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
(18.9)
74
(23.3)
81
(27.2)
96
(35.6)
103
(39.4)
109
(42.8)
112
(44.4)
110
(43.3)
107
(41.7)
95
(35)
87
(30.6)
66
(18.9)
112
(44.4)
Average high °F (°C) 45.9
(7.72)
51.4
(10.78)
58.0
(14.44)
63.8
(17.67)
73.2
(22.89)
81.8
(27.67)
91.8
(33.22)
91.2
(32.89)
83.1
(28.39)
70.0
(21.11)
52.8
(11.56)
44.7
(7.06)
67.3
(19.61)
Daily mean °F (°C) 35.4
(1.89)
39.0
(3.89)
44.0
(6.67)
48.9
(9.39)
56.7
(13.72)
63.9
(17.72)
71.8
(22.11)
70.8
(21.56)
63.5
(17.5)
52.7
(11.5)
40.8
(4.89)
34.6
(1.44)
51.8
(11)
Average low °F (°C) 24.9
(-3.94)
26.5
(-3.06)
29.9
(-1.17)
33.9
(1.06)
40.1
(4.5)
45.9
(7.72)
51.7
(10.94)
50.4
(10.22)
43.8
(6.56)
35.3
(1.83)
28.8
(-1.78)
24.4
(-4.22)
36.3
(2.39)
Record low °F (°C) −11
(-23.9)
−11
(-23.9)
0
(-17.8)
17
(-8.3)
20
(-6.7)
26
(-3.3)
34
(1.1)
33
(0.6)
20
(-6.7)
7
(-13.9)
1
(-17.2)
−11
(-23.9)
−11
(-23.9)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.09
(78.5)
2.07
(52.6)
1.63
(41.4)
1.27
(32.3)
1.31
(33.3)
.97
(24.6)
.55
(14)
.36
(9.1)
.54
(13.7)
1.11
(28.2)
2.92
(74.2)
3.97
(100.8)
19.79
(502.7)
Snowfall inches (cm) 3.7
(9.4)
2.6
(6.6)
.9
(2.3)
.2
(0.5)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
.1
(0.3)
1.3
(3.3)
3.7
(9.4)
12.4
(31.5)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 13.2 9.7 10.3 8.7 7.6 4.6 3.0 2.5 2.7 5.3 11.4 12.7 91.7
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 2.0 1.2 .5 .2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .8 1.8 6.7
Source: NOAA

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,327
1870 1,063 −19.9%
1880 1,059 −0.4%
1890 1,100 3.9%
1900 1,254 14.0%
1910 1,134 −9.6%
1920 1,277 12.6%
1930 2,126 66.5%
1940 2,485 16.9%
1950 3,227 29.9%
1960 4,759 47.5%
1970 5,394 13.3%
1980 5,916 9.7%
1990 6,948 17.4%
2000 7,290 4.9%
2010 7,765 6.5%
2019 (est.) 7,518 −3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010

The 2010 United States Census reported that Yreka had a population of 7,765. The population density was 772.5 people per square mile (298.2/km2). The racial makeup of Yreka was 6,495 (83.6%) White, 57 (0.7%) African American, 491 (6.3%) Native American, 94 (1.2%) Asian, 9 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 168 (2.2%) from other races, and 451 (5.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 753 persons (9.7%).

The Census reported that 7,718 people (99.4% of the population) lived in households, 33 (0.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 14 (0.2%) were institutionalized.

There were 3,394 households, out of which 983 (29.0%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,338 (39.4%) were married couples, 471 (13.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 160 (4.7%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 269 (7.9%) unmarried couples, and 17 (0.5%) gay couples. 1,202 households (35.4%) were made up of individuals, and 636 (18.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27. There were 1,969 families (58.0% of all households); the average family size was 2.92.

The population was spread out, with 1,871 people (24.1%) under the age of 18, 678 people (8.7%) aged 18 to 24, 1,603 people (20.6%) aged 25 to 44, 2,119 people (27.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,494 people (19.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.7 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.5 males.

There were 3,675 housing units at an average density of 365.6 per square mile (141.2/km2), of which 1,751 (51.6%) were owner-occupied, and 1,643 (48.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.4%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.7%. 3,895 people (50.2% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 3,823 people (49.2%) lived in rental housing units.

2000

As of the census of 2000, there were 7,290 people, 3,114 households, and 1,880 families residing in the city. The population density was 730.8 per square mile (282.0/km2). There were 3,303 housing units at an average density of 331.1 per square mile (127.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.6% White, 0.5% African American, 6.0% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.7% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 5.4% of the population.

There were 3,114 households, out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.6% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.5% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 19.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41. For every 100 females, there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females, age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,398, and the median income for a family was $37,448. Males had a median income of $31,632 versus $23,986 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,664. About 17.5% of families and 21.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.6% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.

Palindromes

"Yreka Bakery" is a palindrome. The loss of the “B” in a bakery sign read from the reverse is mentioned as a possible source of the name Yreka in Mark Twain’s autobiography. The original Yreka Bakery was founded in 1856 by baker Frederick Deng. The palindrome was recognized early on: “spell Yreka Bakery backwards and you will know where to get a good loaf of bread” is quoted as an ad in the Yreka Semi-Weekly Journal May 23, 1863 and states that twelve loaves sold for $1. The Yreka Bakery moved eventually to its long-time location, 322 West Miner Street, where it remained under several ownerships until it closed in 1965 on retirement of the baker "Martin", and clerk Alta Hudson. The historic building, the Brown-Nickell-Authenrieth Building, 322–324 West Miner Street, currently houses a restaurant.

Economy

West Miner Street-Third Street District
West Miner Street in Yreka, CA.JPG
West Miner Street in Yreka
Built 1854–1900
NRHP reference No. 72000258
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 11, 1972
Carnegie Library Yreka
Yreka's Carnegie Library, designed by W. H. Weeks, is currently used as the city's police department.

Tourists visit Yreka because it is at the northern edge of the Shasta Cascade area of northern California. The core of the historic downtown, along West Miner Street, is listed as an historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as a California Historical Landmark. Yreka is home to the Siskiyou County Museum and a number of Gold Rush-era monuments and parks. Visitors also come to enjoy trout fishing in the nearby Klamath, Sacramento and McCloud Rivers, or to see and climb Mount Shasta, Castle Crags or the Trinity Alps. Visitors also ski (both alpine and cross-country), or bike or hike to the waterfalls, streams and lakes in the area, including nearby Falls of the McCloud River, Burney Falls, Mossbrae Falls, Lake Siskiyou, Castle Lake and Shasta Lake.

The town hosts Gold Rush Days every year in June.

In addition, because it is the county seat of Siskiyou County, a number of businesses related to the county courts, county recorder, and other official county functions are in the city. Butte Valley National Grassland is in northern Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border, but is administered from Yreka offices.

Education

Yreka is home to a branch campus of the College of the Siskiyous which hosts the Rural Health Science Institute and Administration of Justice programs. The college is one of 10 California community colleges to offer on-campus housing. High-school buses carry students from towns that would not otherwise be able to fund a secondary education.

In Yreka, the gold-mining era is commemorated with a gold museum, as well as with a remnant of a silver mining operation in Greenhorn Park. The Yreka Union High School District sports mascot is a gold miner. School colors are red and gold. Yreka High School was the first high school in the county, founded in 1894. It has 11 feeder districts that serve the approximately 1,200 square miles (3,100 km2) county area.

The Yreka elementary school district is composed of Evergreen Elementary as well as the Jackson Street Middle School.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Interstate 5 is the primary north–south route through Yreka, connecting Redding and Sacramento to the south and the Oregon border to the north. Interstate 5 through the city follows the former path of the Siskiyou Trail, which stretched from California's Central Valley to Oregon's Willamette Valley.

California State Route 3 runs east to Montague, and west to Fort Jones and Weaverville. California State Route 263 serves as a business loop of Interstate 5 through the northern part of the city.

General aviation uses the Montague Airport in Montague, 6 miles (9.7 km) to the east.

Notable people

  • Erik Bennett, Major League Baseball player, was born in Yreka.
  • Leander Clark, an Iowa state legislator and Union Army officer, prospected for gold in the Yreka area, returning home to the east coast via the isthmus of Panama in 1852, $3,000 to $4,000 richer.
  • Edward Silsby Farrington, United States federal judge, was born in Yreka.
  • Marco Grifantini, baseball player, was born in Yreka.
  • William Irwin, Siskiyou representative and later governor of California.
  • Ross McCloud was Siskiyou County surveyor in the middle 1850s and laid out for improvement many of the trails and road courses still in use today.
  • Tim Meamber, American football player, was born in Yreka.
  • Richie Myers, baseball player, was a resident of Yreka when he died there.
  • John Otto was the first park custodian at Colorado National Monument, and was a key advocate for its creation and its later inclusion in the National Park System. He spent his final 20 years on his mining claim near Yreka and was buried in a pauper's grave.
  • Eric Pianka, biologist, grew up in Yreka.
  • Elijah Steele, an early Northern California pioneer, state legislator, and Indian agent who tried to prevent the Modoc War, lived in Yreka when he was Superior Court Judge for Siskiyou County from 1879 to 1883.
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