Saturday, April 23, 2011

I've found it!

     Eureka, I've found it (if you don't know, Eureka means "I've found it."  Eureka is also the state motto of California, and since I grew up a geography nerd in California, I always knew the meaning of Eureka).  I've got to say, I think that Eureka may be one of the coolest little towns around Utah.  Most of the downtown has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979, which makes it a cool place because it has preserved most of its mining day charm (and will continue to preserve that charm since these buildings can't be destroyed).  But before I get too far ahead of myself, I should at least give a little history on Eureka.
     Eureka's history is totally tied with mining.  The wikipedia article on it says: "Eureka was originally known as Ruby Hollow before it developed into a bustling mining town. Incorporated as a city in 1892, Eureka became the financial center for the Tintic Mining District, a wealthy gold and silver mining area in Utah and Juab counties. The district was organized in 1869 and by 1899 became one of the top mineral producing areas in Utah. Eureka housed the "Big Four" mines—Bullion Beck and Champion, Centennial Eureka, Eureka Hill, and Gemini-and later the Chief Consolidated Mining Company.
     "Eureka's role as the central financial point for the district ensured its survival. It housed business establishments, including the second-ever JCPenney store (then called the Golden Rule Store), financial institutions, local and county governmental buildings including Eureka City Hall (1899) and a Juab County Courthouse (1892), various churches, and the meeting places for numerous labor, social, and fraternal organizations."
     You may have heard me mention discussion about the Tintic Mining area in the previous posts about Silver City and Mammoth.  All of these cities were mining towns and an important part of the mining history in Utah.  Eventually six different communities were settled after the discovery of gold in 1869.  At the turn of the century, Eureka was the 9th biggest city in the state with around 3,000 people.  One of the cool photos from this time is of the City Hall:

Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

     If you haven't noticed from the previous posts, the entire Tintic Mining Area has seen a big decline since its heyday.  Eureka now has a little more than 700 people living there, and most of downtown is closed.  Many of these buildings are in desperate need of repair and are currently not being used.  Here is the current picture of city hall:

     The building is pretty similar to how it looked over 100 years ago, with a few minor alterations to the roof and the balcony above the door.  The plaque on the building says: "The Eureka City Hall was built in 1899 by the Eureka City government and functioned as the offices for city court, mayor, sheriff, recorder, treasurer, council chamber and city volunteer fire department.  John K Pilgrim, a city official, drew the plans and specifications for $100 and Adams and Sons of Eureka built it for $4,400.  Eureka City Hall still serves the same function except the courtroom and most of the second floor now house the Tintic Mining Museum sponsored by the Tintic Historical Society.  it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on March 14, 1979, as part of the Eureka Historic District."
     I am a little confused as to this museum and the other one that is located in town.  Both were closed.  When I talked to a local, he said that most shops along the historic avenue were closed (except for an occasional gun shop that opened, a gas station, and a consignment shop that was only occasionally open).  He said that during the summer the streets are packed with people heading towards Little Sahara to do some four wheeling.  May be during the winter, when nothing is happening in the city, all of the museums close down?  I really like the feel in the town and would like to help out restoring and repairing some of these cool buildings.  Hopefully as I have the chance to do this and visit Eureka more often I will finally find out.

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