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Yreka, California

Yreka, California
City of Yreka
Statue at entrance to Yreka Historic District
Statue at entrance to Yreka Historic District
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[1]
 • Total 10.053 sq mi (26.036 km2)
 • Land 9.980 sq mi (25.847 km2)
 • Water 0.073 sq mi (0.188 km2)  0.72%
Elevation 2,582 ft (787 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 7,765
 • Density 770/sq mi (300/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC−8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
ZIP code 96097
Area code 530
FIPS code 06-86944
GNIS feature ID 1652661

Yreka ( ) is the county seat of Siskiyou County, California, United States, located in the Shasta Valley at 2,500 feet (760 m) above sea level and covering about 10.1 sq mi (26 km2) area, of which most is land. The population was 7,765 at the 2010 census, up from 7,290 at the 2000 census. Yreka is home to the College of the Siskiyous, Klamath National Forest Interpretive Museum and the Siskiyou County Museum. Its gold mining heritage is commemorated by the high school team which uses a gold miner as their name and mascot.


  • History 1
    • State of Jefferson 1.1
    • Lynchings 1.2
  • Geography 2
    • Natural history 2.1
    • Nearby settlements 2.2
  • Climate 3
  • Demographics 4
    • 2010 4.1
    • 2000 4.2
  • Economy 5
  • Government 6
  • Education 7
  • Media 8
  • Infrastructure 9
    • Transportation 9.1
  • Notable people 10
  • Palindromes 11
  • Popular culture 12
  • See also 13
  • References 14
  • External links 15


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.[3] The word means "north mountain" or "white mountain".[4][5] 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.[6]

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".[7] Incorporation proceedings were completed on April 21, 1857.[7]

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.[8]


There have been two documented lynchings in the town of Yreka. The first took place on August 26, 1895, when four men – William Null, Garland Stemler, Luis Moreno, and Lawrence Johnson – awaiting trial for various charges of murder and robbery,[9] were simultaneously hanged by a lynch mob from a railroad tie suspended from two adjacent trees.[8][10]

The second lynching occurred about forty years later on July 28, 1935. Clyde Johnson and Robert Miller Barr robbed a local business and their patrons in [12] Clyde Johnson was caught a few hours later by a dragnet and was taken into custody. Barr, who was holding the thirty-five dollars that they got from the robbery, panicked during the shootout and ran off into the woods then got away on a freight train. Jack Daw was a beloved figure in Dunsmuir. His title of Chief of Police was honorary, given to him because of his cool head and experience as a World War I veteran. The night of Daw’s funeral a dozen cars from Dunsmuir, carrying approximately thirty-five masked men drove north to Yreka with the intentions of lynching Johnson. On August 3, 1935 at 1:30am, the mob reached the Yreka jail and lightly knocked on the door. Deputy Marin Lange, the only guard on duty opened the door slightly and was quickly overtaken by the mob. Two men drove him sixteen miles east of Yreka where he was released, barefoot.[13] Barr was arrested over a year later, on September 4, 1936, in Los Angeles on a burglary charge.[14] During his time on the lam, he got a part as an extra in the Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald film, Rose Marie, which was filmed near Lake Tahoe. He is credited in the film under his real name.[15]


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

Yreka is located at (41.726617, −122.637568),[16] 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).[17]

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.[18]

Nearby settlements[19]


Climate data for Yreka, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Average high °F (°C) 45.9
Average low °F (°C) 24.9
Record low °F (°C) −11
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.09
Snowfall inches (cm) 3.7
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 [20]



The 2010 United States Census[21] 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 opposite-sex married couples living together, 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 opposite-sex partnerships, and 17 (0.5%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 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.


As of the census[22] 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 living together, 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 years. 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.


West Miner Street-Third Street District
West Miner Street in Yreka
Built 1854-1900
Governing body City of Yreka
NRHP Reference # 72000258[24]
CHISL # 901[23]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 11, 1972
Designated CHISL 1976
Yreka's Carnegie Library, designed by W. H. Weeks is currently used for their police department.[25]

Tourists visit Yreka because it is located 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,[26] and to a number of Gold Rush-era monuments and parks. Visitors also come to enjoy trout fishing in the nearby Klamath,[27] Sacramento[28][29] and McCloud[27][28] Rivers, or come 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 located in the city. Butte Valley National Grassland s located in northern Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border but is administered from Yreka offices.[30][31]


In the state legislature Yreka is in the 1st Senate District, represented by Republican Ted Gaines,[32] and the 1st Assembly District, represented by Republican Brian Dahle.[33]

Federally, Yreka is in California's 1st congressional district, represented by Republican Doug LaMalfa.[34]


Yreka is home to a branch campus of the College of the Siskiyous[35] which hosts the Rural Health Science Institute[36] and Administration of Justice programs. The College is one of 10 California Community Colleges to offer on campus lodging.[37] 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 currently has eleven feeder districts which serve the approximately 1,200 square miles (3,100 km2) county area.[38]

The Yreka elementary school district is composed of two primary schools, Evergreen Elementary and Gold Street School as well as the Jackson Street Middle School.


The city and county are served by a daily newspaper, the Siskiyou Daily News, as well as 13 FM and one AM station. Yreka Community Television Channel 4 (commonly known as YCTV 4) is a small public-educational-and-government-access cable TV run by the city of Yreka.[39]



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.[40]

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. The Yreka Western Railroad is a heritage railway that provides freight and passenger service east to Montague, where it connects to the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad, which only operates freight trains.

Notable people

  • Convicted murderer Jodi Ann Arias dropped out of high school in Yreka[41] and was living there in June 2008,[42] when she drove to Mesa, Arizona to see her boyfriend Travis Alexander.[43] She was found guilty of first degree murder on May 8, 2013.[44]
  • Erik Bennett, major league baseball player was born in Yreka.[45]
  • Charles Earl Bowles aka Black Bart robbed a number of stagecoaches on the trails leading to or from Yreka in the 1880s.[46]
  • 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.[47]
  • Edward Silsby Farrington, United States federal judge was born in Yreka.[48]
  • Marco Grifantini, baseball player was born in Yreka.[49]
  • William Irwin, Siskiyou representative and later, Governor of the state of California.[8]
  • 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.[50]
  • Patrick F. McManus was a sutler killed in the Yreka area while hauling mail.[51]
  • Tim Meamber, American football player was born in Yreka.[52]
  • Richie Myers, baseball player died in Yreka.[53]
  • John Otto the first park custodian at Colorado National Monument, and had been a key advocate for its creation and its later inclusion in the National Park System spent his final 20 years on his mining claim near Yreka and was buried in a pauper's grave.[54]
  • Eric Pianka, biologist grew up in Yreka.[55]
  • 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 1879-1883.[56]


"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.[6][57] The original Yreka Bakery was founded in 1856 by baker Frederick Deng.[58] 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.[58] 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. Another Yreka Bakery reopened in a different location in 1974,[58] but is no longer in business.[59] Author Martin Gardner mentioned that Yreka Bakery was in business on West Miner Street in Yreka,[60]:246 but it was pointed out by readers "the Yreka Bakery no longer existed. In 1970 the original premises were occupied by the art store Yrella Gallery, also a palindrome".[60]:251 The historic building, the Brown-Nickell-Authenrieth Building, 322–324 West Miner Street, currently houses a restaurant.[61]

Popular culture

See also


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date" (Word). California Association of  
  2. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer File - Places - California".  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ "The Boomtown That Didn’t Go Bust - A History of Early Yreka". Yreka Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved June 4, 2007. 
  5. ^ "A short history of the cities in Siskiyou County and a directory to their current addresses and telephone numbers". Siskiyou County Library. 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b  
  7. ^ a b "Siskiyou History 1850 - 1874". Siskiyou History Organization. 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Karen Cleland; Donald Y. East (May 1, 2007). Yreka. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 7–.  
  9. ^ "The corpse of Clyde Johnson. August 3, 1935. Yreka, California". Without Sanctuary lynching photos and history. Retrieved May 5, 2009. 
  10. ^ Kulczyk, David (October 15, 2012). "Four Lynchings in One Day – Yreka, California – August 26, 1895". Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ David Kulczyk (August 1, 2007). California Justice: Shootouts, Lynchings and Assassinations in the Golden State. Word Dancer Press.  
  12. ^ Chief Frank R. Daw Dunsmuir Police Department, California Peace Officers Memorial Foundation, accessed July 16, 2013
  13. ^ California Mob Lynches Police Slayer, Omaha Bee-News, August 3, 1936, pages 1-2.
  14. ^ Nab suspect as slayer of police chief: Man long sought in Dunsmuir Crime in L.A. Jail, Lodi News-Sentinel, September 5, 1936, page 1, accessed July 16, 2013
  15. ^ Associated Press, Hunted Bandit Busy in Movie, Spokesman-Review, Spokane Washington, September 16, 1936, page 9
  16. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  17. ^ Smith, David (September 11, 2009). "Council names Yreka Phlox city flower". Siskiyou Daily News. .
  18. ^ Treatment from the Jepson Manual 1993, University of California Press, 1993, Regents of the University of California, accessed August 7, 2013
  19. ^ "Google Maps: Directions from Yreka, California".  
  20. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data".  
  21. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Yreka city". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  22. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  23. ^ a b "West Miner Street-Third Street District". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  24. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  25. ^ Yreka, Siskiyou County North Central/Northeast area, Shasta Cascade region Carnegie Libraries, 2009, accessed August 7, 2013
  26. ^ Siskiyou County Museum website accessed February 21, 2008.
  27. ^ a b "Fishing". Visit Siskiyou County. 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Ross, John (2005). Trout Unlimited's Guide to America's 100 Best Trout Streams, Updated and Revised. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press.  
  29. ^ Brooks, Wade (2006). Fly fishing and the meaning of life. St. Paul, MN: Voyageur Press. p. 92.  
  30. ^ "Butte Valley National Grassland". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Butte Valley National Grassland". Wdilernet. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  34. ^ "California's 1st Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 1, 2013. 
  35. ^ "College of the Siskiyous webpage". College of the Siskiyous. 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Rural Health Science Institute". College of the Siskiyous. 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  37. ^ "Lodging". College of the Siskiyous. 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  38. ^ Yreka Union School District
  39. ^ Live Stream, Siskiyou Media Council, accessed August 7, 2013
  40. ^ Richard H. Dillon (1975). Siskiyou Trail: the Hudson's Bay Company route to California. McGraw-Hill.  
  41. ^ Curry, Colleen, Jodi Arias Must Overcome Her Lies If She Testifies This Week, ABC News, January 29, 2013, accessed April 8, 2013
  42. ^ Lohr, David, Jodi Arias Case: Twists And Delays In Alleged Femme Fatale's Murder Trial, The Huffington Post, December 29, 2011, accessed April 8, 2013
  43. ^ Curry, Colleen, Jodi Arias Borrowed Gas Cans Day Before Killing Travis Alexander, Ex-Beau Says, ABC News, January 29, 2013, accessed April 8, 2013
  44. ^ Lohr, David (January 2, 2013). "Travis Alexander Murder: Trial Of Jodi Arias Opens".  
  45. ^ Choy, Bill (February 7, 2013). "Erik Bennet returns home: Current Salt Lake pitching coach helps out at clinic". Siskiyou Daily. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  46. ^ George Hoeper (1995). Black Bart: Boulevardier Bandit. Quill Driver Books.  
  47. ^ Transcribed by Iowa GenWeb Project (1883). History of Tama County Chapter XIII. Springfield, Illinois: Union Publishing Company. Retrieved July 15, 2010. 
  48. ^ "Farrington, Edward Silsby", Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, retrieved August 7, 2013 
  49. ^ "Marco Grifantini - BR Bullpen". Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  50. ^ "". Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  51. ^ "McManus, Patrick F., House". National Park Service Register. National Park Service. Retrieved May 13, 2012. 
  52. ^ Tim Meamber,, 2013, accessed July 20, 2013
  53. ^ "Obituary For: Richard Myers – Girdner Funeral Chapel". Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  54. ^ "John Otto - Colorado National Monument". Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  55. ^ "Bazooka Injuries". Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  56. ^ Wells, Harry L. (1881). "". D. J. Stewart & Co. p. 92B & 92C. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  57. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara; David Mikkelson (August 12, 2011). "Yreka Bakery". Snopes. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  58. ^ a b c Carey, Don (April–May 1983). "Yreka Bakery". Yreka Historic Preservation Corporation, Yreka Echoes.  This article was quoting a column by editor Ed Foss in the Siskiyou Daily News, February 9, 1973
  59. ^ Tivoli, Brian (September 12, 2005). "". Brainy Planet. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  60. ^ a b Martin Gardner (1979). Mathematical circus: more games, puzzles, paradoxes, & other mathematical entertainments from Scientific American; with thoughts from readers, afterthoughts from the author, and 105 drawings & diagrams. Knopf. Retrieved April 8, 2013. 
  61. ^ "Local restaurant owner preserves history of building". January 20, 2010. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. 
  62. ^ Hunt for the I-5 Killer, Lifetime Entertainment, 2013, accessed April 6, 2013

External links

  • Official website
  • Yreka Chamber of Commerce
  • Museum of the Siskiyou Trail
  • Siskiyou County Historical Society
  • Siskiyou Daily News
  • Images of Yreka from the Eastman’s Originals Collection, Special Collections Dept., University of California, Davis.
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