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.
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.