Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Baldwin Block, Part 1





The article below is copyrighted by Yreka (Historic) Preservation and reprinted by permission.  It originally appeared in the February/March 1984 edition of Yreka Echoes Newsletter.  Please note some of the businesses are no longer at the locations mentioned.


An eventful year in our historic past was 1871, when a fire ravaged nearly one-third of the town of Yreka.  The fire started in a Chinese wash house west of Second Street (Broadway), pinpointed by the old-timers as approximately where the Yreka Flower Shop is now, 208 West Miner Street, and in one hour’s time left the town in ruins due to shifting winds carrying the fire from street to street.  It was ten years before rebuilding began on what became known as the Baldwin Block, where Ohlund’s Office Supply and the Miner Street Meat Market now resides.  

            In 1881 contractors J. W. Riddle and Al Smith began construction on the building for Mrs. W. I. Nichols, whose father was Rev. J. T. Baldwin, a Presbyterian minister and graduate of Princeton University in the class of 1823.  Her husband was a local attorney.

            The building was a large 100 by 80-foot brick structure, with a space in back designed for offices or sleeping rooms.  Work progressed slowly, since they worked through the winter and mortar and plastered walls did not dry well due to freezing temperatures.  An outstanding feature of building in that era was the substantial board walks constructed in front of the building; and the basements were large and well drained by deep sewers running into Yreka Creek.

            The first business to open where Ohlund’s Office Supply is now located was a saloon.  On June 3, 1882 the Portuguese Billiard Saloon opened its doors for business, operated by Frank Roberts and A. S. Oliver.  They spared no effort or expense in making it one of the “handsomest” places of “public resort” in the country.  The bar, made by Mr. Oliver, was located on the east side of the saloon and a shooting gallery, at 25¢ for six shots, attracted local sportsmen on the west side.  A Virginia pool table was the center focal point.  Quoting from the Yreka Journal of June 3, 1882: “No boys under 18 permitted as a preventive of becoming a hoodlum resort.”

            The building was sold by Mrs. Nichols (Jennie T. Nichols) to N. B. Julien October 20, 1882 for the sum of $5,084.50, and in 1885 the saloon was known as the Roberts Saloon.  By 1892 the building was being used as a sample room for the Clarendon Hotel across the street.

            A new steel roof was put on the entire Baldwin Block in 1899 by Mr. Julien, the owner, who hired Iunker Brothers to cover the 9,000 square foot space.  New chimneys were made, and new skylights coated with iron sheeting.  The rear portion above the brick wall was covered with iron to make the block as near fireproof as possible.

            The Walker-Avery Drug Store was the next business in this location.  Extensive improvements were made before the proprietors occupied the store in May, 1900, which made the store “the most beautiful, modern building north of Sacramento.”  A new façade was erected with a plate glass front and two doors, and a beautifully refurbished interior.  Quoting the Yreka Journal of May 26, 1903, “C. W. Avery has a cozy and neat arbor or tent in the center of his drug store, where partees [sic] can enjoy refreshments during warm days in the way of ice cream, ice cream soda, and various kinds of temperance beverages.”

Look for Part 2 of this article in the next blog post...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The King and White Building


231 Miner Street, Yreka, CA

The building that sits on the corner of Miner and Fourth Streets today was built while Yreka was in its early boom days. Records show that it was in use as early as 1854. The locally well known 1858 hand drawn map and layout of Yreka shows the King and White building, and by 1855 the Yreka Journal was printing notices and advertisements for the King and White building. They sold paint, oil, glass crockery, glassware, harnesses, spurs, bridles and a wide variety of merchandise. It was lauded as the “fireproof” brick building at the corner of Miner and Fourth Streets.

During the 1860's the address for this building was known to be 40 Miner Street. In 1871 during the “Great Conflagration” of July 4, this building was partially burned and obliterated a wood building that was built at the rear of the store along Fourth Street. The total loss of buildings and goods was valued at $3,000. Within two months time the owner was bringing rock and brick for an “addition” to the building to be built at the back section to replace the wooden section that had been burned.

In 1896 it was announced that the Bee Hive (a general store) would occupy this building, owned by R. H. DeWitt. Mr. DeWitt partially remodeled the building by putting in a new plate glass front. The Bee Hive was in this location only a few years, when in 1898 DeWitt and Peters built a new much larger building at the corner of Miner and Oregon Streets. The structure is still standing today, and is known as the Elks Lodge. In 1898 Churchill and Son purchased this building and did much more renovation to the building. In March of 1898 the Yreka Journal reported: “Mr. Churchill has overhauled the Old King Store recently vacated by the Bee Hive. The inside is about all torn out, and a new front wall to hold two large plate glass windows is being constructed. A new ceiling is being built on the interior.” This new store carried a variety of goods in addition to drugs. They advertised as being Druggists, Booksellers, Stationers, and offering Kodaks and complete photographic Supplies, Candy, Molasses, Maple Syrup and Wall Paper. The Churchills carried on their business at this location until 1916 when it was purchased by Frank Ackerman, the manager of the store for Mr. Churchill.                            

The Ackerman Drug Store operated here until 1932 when it was sold to Maguire and Greene who also operated a Drug Store here. The Maguire and Greene Drug Store operated until 1976 when the store was closed.

From about 1856 until the early 1930's there was another structure to the West. It actually made Fourth Street very narrow, jutting out into the street. This was the former Pashburg Building. Eventually the building was torn down and Fourth Street was widened to what we see today.


Source of information: From the files of Yreka Preservation contributed articles and information by Donald Carey, Harland McDonald, and Archie Noonan.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Yreka Trade Tokens


There are many kinds of “tokens” that folks collect and even use today, or remember from only a few years back.  There are token coin types that have been used for trade, advertising, currency, slot and game machines, car washes, transit tokens, etc.  Typically it is understood that coins are known to be issued by a governmental agency while tokens have a limited use and often issued by a company, organization or even an individual.  Tokens have been made of the less expensive metals (such as copper, tin, brass) or even leather, porcelain, wood and other materials.

            Throughout history it appears that tokens often were used when there was a coin shortage, whether it is a geographical shortage because of distance and shipping, or when a particular metal was in demand elsewhere.  At other times they have simply been used as a unique item for advertising or to garner interest!   Back in 1880 merchants in the United States were widely using trade tokens for a variety of reasons.  When a customer made a purchase at their place of business, often times they were given a token in return.  Many times the tokens were for specific items, for example, “Good for 1 drink” at a particular saloon, or perhaps “Good for 5¢ in Trade” or other small denominations.  Tokens usually had the name of the business and city or town on one side, and the “good for” notation on the other.  Tokens of this type would have only been used at one place of business.  More current tokens folks may remember as “wooden nickels” where they were often used for a cup of coffee, or an anniversary memento.


            Tokens of various types have been actively collected by many folks, for Yreka there are a number of tokens that have been used throughout the years, but often the more “interesting” ones are the tokens of yesteryear.  They give us a peek into the past often naming a place we never knew existed!  Some of the tokens are quite rare!  Some of the businesses in Yreka that have issued tokens in the more distant past are:  Bella Union Saloon, Yreka Cigar Store, Our House Billiard Parlor, Rex Club, The Office Saloon, C. Allen Bath Token, The Bee Hive, The Dew Drop, Franco American Hotel meal token, Melody Mart and Con Brown’s.   In the past 30 years we have seen other Yreka tokens issued from:   TJ’s, Jerry’s Car Wash, Soft Spray Car Wash, Sambo’s Restaurant, Burger King, and an anniversary token for the National Historic District.


            There are probably many other businesses that have issued tokens here in Yreka, and to our knowledge there currently isn't a comprehensive display of Yreka tokens anywhere to be found.  It would be a fun collection to view!







Copyright:  Claudia East, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

Greenhorn

Greenhorn Sawmill, photo courtesy Siskiyou County Museum












By Claudia East

The term “greenhorn” when used as a noun is defined by the dictionary as an untrained or inexperienced person, a naïve or gullible person; someone easily tricked or swindled, and also as a newly arrived immigrant or newcomer.  So, where does that fall in the category of Yreka History?  Locals know of our delightful Greenhorn Park and Greenhorn Creek, situated just south and to the west of the most heavily populated part of town.  There is quite a bit of local lore written about “greenhorn”, but most of the stories are similar in nature.  One of the early records of Greenhorn is from Well’s History of Siskiyou where he explains that the creek was called Race Creek in the early days because as soon as gold was discovered at Thompson’s Dry Diggings (Yreka) people started looking frantically everywhere along nearby creeks, the one we know today was called Race Creek in the early days because folks “raced” to get there to search for gold.

            So, how did Greenhorn come to bear its name?  As the story goes that little, if anything, was found along Race Creek and was soon abandoned by the miners.  One day a new arrival, perhaps an Englishman, came to town and asked where he could find a good place to mine for gold as he was ready to find his fortune.  The miners, thought they would put “one over” on this “greenhorn” and sent him up Race Creek to dig fully believing he wouldn't find anything.  As he began to work the area along the creek the local miners continued to enjoy their joke on this newcomer.  To perpetuate the joke, they began to call it Greenhorn Creek.  The joke, however, turned out to be on the miners, as he mined over $7,000 in gold in only a few days!  As soon as the word was out, the Greenhorn rush was on; miners quickly wanted to make their own claims along the five mile stretch of the creek.  During the years the area was mined, over $11 million in gold was mined from this area.  Greenhorn was one of the best producers of gold in the county from 1850 on.  The area was even dredged in later years until high bedrock was hit and the dredge could no longer be floated.
           
            While the creek was producing gold, however, like many other places throughout the county a small little town came into being and was even given a voting precinct of its own.  At one time (circa 1870 – 1881) it had a little general store, a tannery, a glove factory and small furniture factory, and sawmill.  There was also a small schoolhouse established in 1859.  Today all vestiges of the former town are gone except the Greenhorn Schoolhouse located near the south entrance to Greenhorn Park; the original school building is long gone and the little red schoolhouse we see today was built sometime before 1935 but replaced the original building.   The location of the schoolhouse is not in the original position, reported to have been moved between 1947 and 1957; it was originally located near the confluence of Greenhorn and Yreka Creek.  This may have been somewhere near where the interstate crosses today.


            There is a lot of history in this small area near Yreka, there was even an event called the Greenhorn War that initiated over water rights for mining.  Today, the Greenhorn Creek as it was seen 150 years ago looks very different today, instead of miners and a sawmill we have a beautiful park, lovely trails, and a lake that is home to many birds and animals.  

Copyright:  Claudia East

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Deadwood and Yreka




Yreka vs. Deadwood

   The Fight for the County Seat

 By Claudia East





              It had been a little over a year from the discovery of gold in 1851 on the flats that that Yreka had grown to over 2,000 inhabitants.  Siskiyou County was formed in March of 1852 from parts of Shasta and Klamath Counties and was named after the Siskiyou Mountain Range.  It wasn't long before a county seat needed to be determined for this new county of California.  At the time there were two towns vying for the title; that of Yreka and neighboring Deadwood which was second only to Yreka in population and was located over Greenhorn down towards the Ft. Jones area near McAdams Creek.   

            Deadwood was one of the most important business centers in the county; it was a mining town as well and had three stores, two hotels, a drug store, a butcher shop, three saloons, a bakery, two stables and a dairy.  The first bank to ever open in Siskiyou County was opened in Deadwood according to historical writings.  Many well known local pioneers had businesses in Deadwood and among them were A. B. Carlock, Daniel Ream and M. Rosenberg. 

            Early Yreka was also vibrant with stores, a stage office, brewery, hotels, meat market, hardware store, blacksmith, barbershop, saloons, a church and other places of business.  Unlike Deadwood, Yreka also had permanent residences while most of the miners in the Deadwood area lived in tents and shacks or at the boarding houses. 

            When it came time to choose a County Seat the competition between the two towns was fierce.  It was not readily predictable who would win as it was a large county and folks would have to travel many miles from one part of the county to the other to actually visit the County Seat and take care of government matters, many of them relating to property ownership, court matters and the like.  A story from a local newspaper following the county convention to elect a county seat reported the following:

            The people have spoken, and Yreka has been voted to hold the title of County Seat for the newly formed County of Siskiyou recently named by the California Legislature.  The campaigns were strong and neighboring Deadwood came very close behind Yreka, there are still rumbling accusations of underhanded dealings during the elections.  Apparently Etna had a lower voter turnout and some say it is because of the whisky party that was carried on the night before the election.  Plans will soon be underway for officers of the county and a place to hold official meetings.

            According to some historical information (whether speculated or accurate it is not entirely known…) that Etna being closer to Deadwood would vote in that direction along with others and the whiskey delivered to the voters in Etna was from Yreka.  Some reports tell of the deciding vote to be only one, and other reports simply say it was a very close election.

            In 1861 the majority of the town of Deadwood was burned to the ground in a fire.  Following that fire there were a few buildings remaining and a few residents, but it wasn't long before the town faded from existence.  Deadwood was vibrant for only 10 years, but adds a significant story to the history of our county.  Today the only thing that remains to mark the town site are a few very old fruit trees and one of the first historical monuments placed by the Siskiyou County Historical Society in 1948.  One can visit the site by traveling one of two ways.  Travel Highway 3 towards Ft. Jones and turn on McAdams Creek Road before entering the town limits of Ft. Jones.  Simply following this road will eventually take one to Forest Service Road 45N49 turn and travel a few car lengths to the monument.  The second route would be to simply travel up Greenhorn Road from Yreka and continue over the mountain and back down and look for Forest Service Road 45N49.  The monument is visible from the road if you know where to look, but the most identifiable marks will be the open flat area the town site was located and a few ancient fruit trees on the side of a hill.


            Note:  This author  is sad to report that this historic monument has been the recent target of vandals, the monument was restored a few years ago with the help of E Clampus Vitus, Humbug Chapter, along with the Siskiyou County Historical Society to repair earlier damage, but again it has been targeted by vandals shooting bullets at the bronze plaque.