For miner-49ers looking for gold in the northern part of California, Yreka was the gateway to the Klamath River Valley, and a gold field in its own right.
If you hike to the far side of the lake, you’ll find evidence of Yreka’s gold-bearing past. There’s an old stamp mill and a few aging historic buildings still existing to this day. If you leave via Ranch Lane on the south-eastern edge of the park you can find the old schoolhouse. What a treasure! I love old schoolhouses… they are precious.
In downtown Yreka, on Miner Street, you can take a walking tour of this historic district. There are plaques on each of the buildings telling what used to be there in the old gold mining days. At one time that entire area was rich with gold. The men who came to Siskiyou County in the 1800’s managed to find and remove all the gold easily seen and accessible.
For years a large collection of gold chunks and nuggets was on display in the Siskiyou County Courthouse on Fourth St. a few blocks south of Miner Street.
On January 31, 2012 thieves decided they needed the gold more than the people of Siskiyou County. They broke into the courthouse and took the golden treasure. Two men were prosecuted and sent to jail, but the gold was not recovered. It may have ended up in a smelter, never to be seen again.
Convicted: David Dean Johnson / Scott Wayne Bailey
Yreka is the county seat of Siskiyou County. This is one of the largest California counties, with one of the smallest populations. Most of the county is covered either by dense forest or by ancient, uninhabitable lava flows.
Yreka’s population hovers between 7000 and 8000 souls, and has remained at that level during the thirteen years I’ve lived in this county.
From where I live in Happy Camp, Yreka is a 2 hour drive and is the largest “city” around within that distance during winter months. During summer months, we can drive the same amount of time and go north to Oregon and the larger city of Grants Pass. Yreka is the largest town in Siskiyou County.
Barbara Radisavljevic says
We were stranded in Yreka one weekend on our way home from Oregon and I walked as far as I could from the motel while our car was in the shop. I did see some historic buildings, but nothing you mentioned here. Looks like we missed a lot. Is the park you referred to called Greenhorn Park? I only saw a small park within walking distance of our motel. I saw some historic churches and lots of Victorian homes.
Linda Jo Martin says
There are a lot of parks and playgrounds in Yreka. Yes, Greenhorn Park is the one I referred to. It is up the hill slightly out of town, so probably isn’t the one you saw. Greenhorn Park has a playground and a lake to walk around. On the far side of the lake, there are historic buildings including an old stamp mill. I should do another article about that area as I have lots of photographs.
Paul Wesley Bowen says
Linda, when I lived in Yreka on South Oregon Street, right behind the sheriff’s office and county jail, the main park was up a block, then over to the right about three blocks. It had the softball field where the local softball games took place. One of the most fun ones was the yearly Town leaders versus … wow … has it been that long … but the one game I remembered, one of the opposing team members was dressed as a clown. What the other team didn’t know was that he had an old fashioned bull prod, and running on the inside of the field, one of the town councilmen made a home run on a single jumping wildly every once in a while. Poor guy … but we roared with laughter. Life was so different then.
Paul Wesley Bowen says
Would you believe that the Bowen family lived on the edge of the Montague Basin, just over the Oberlin Road hill, but we had to go to school at Greenhorn? Two buildings, grades 1-3 in the small white building, then the playground’s merry go round (which I was so small, they had to put me on it to ride it), and then 4-8 in the main school.