Priding itself as being “The Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road,” is the modest, yet charming town of Eureka. While the township is small in size, there are endlessly interesting things to do and see, as Eureka is perceived by many as one the American West’s best-preserved mining communities.
Austin drew thousands of prospectors to its booming community, and several silver prospectors made their way east, uncovering rock laden with rich silver-lead ore in what is considered modern day Eureka. And just like that, Eureka sprang into existence as the next big mining boomtown, but this time slightly different. While nearby boomtowns primarily achieved success through gold and silver claims, Eureka thrust itself into the mining world with its lead-rich hillsides.
While Eureka was substantially more successful than Austin, the township had more of a conservative outlook, while Austin was a tad bit rough and tumble. The history here is rich, but perhaps slightly sheltered due to its modest approach. And, while other communities’ success was short-lived, Eureka continued to prosper, and still does…in a big way. Eventually encompassing a whopping fifty mines yielding lead, silver, gold and zinc, at its height, this astounding operation could produce more than 700 tons of ore per day. Within ten short years, Eureka gained more revenue than had ever been invested in the entire county combined.
Like most mining communities, mining production began to dwindle and by 1891, most of the major mines had ceased. Several families have remained in the area throughout time, but the current population has declined to 610.
But, just because the town is small in size, doesn't mean the area has lost its allure and friendly welcome. When visiting “The Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road,” stay at one of their comfortable and clean lodging accommodations, or sling back a few libations at several dining options all conveniently located along the main drag through town.
Although nearly impossible to miss when passing through town, be sure to add the Eureka Opera House to your list of things to see. The original Opera House recently underwent renovations within the past few years, and is an exemplary memento of the towns fascinating history. For an actual museum, check out the Eureka Sentinel Museum, the original home to the former Eureka Sentinel newspaper from 1879-1960. Other interesting sites include the Eureka County Courthouse, which boasts two large bells cast in Cincinnatti, Ohio, and San Francisco; the Jackson House Hotel, which was remodeled in 1998; and Al’s Hardware, once a saloon and cash store. For those looking to get down and dirty, swing by the Barrick Ruby Hill mine, a modern day mining operating just on the edge of town.
Eureka offers fun things to do and see for all ages, but if you must take only one thing away from you experience here, be sure to snag your Highway 50 Survival Guide on your way out of town. You can score a stamp at each town along the “The Loneliest Road In America,” which makes for a quirky journey across this famed stretch of road, while securing the ultimate bragging rights!