The word “eureka” is Greek. It’s first use is attributed to the mathematician and engineer Archimedes. Over time it has been a much used word in the English language where it has been a car, a diamond, a magazine, a poem, a drag queen, and a well-known vacuum cleaner. There was a Eureka rebellion in Australia where there are 2 places with the name Eureka. There are Eurekas in South Africa and New Zealand. People who track such things will tell you that there are 29 towns named Eureka in the United States.
The use of this word for town names took off after the discovery of gold in California, where the largest town named Eureka is. This is because eureka’s Greek meaning is, “I have found it!” Most of the towns named Eureka since it was widely used to name towns actually exist. I have found most of them on maps. Many have become mere specks on maps as small towns have dwindled in population and importance. Many Eurekas are now unincorporated. The Eureka in the state of Colorado has become a ghost town near the town of Silverton north of Durango.
Many Eurekas have added words to themselves. For example, the Eureka in Arkansas that has become a resort community has added Springs to its name. Eureka Springs, AK is a fun Ozark Mountain town of about 2,000 people we have been to a couple of times. There is a Eureka Valley in the San Francisco area of California. South Carolina has a place called Eureka Mill. Even the state of Alaska has a Eureka. It’s a roadhouse, which are common in this state.
Some of the larger Eurekas that still exist in the USA are in Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri. Eureka, IL is a town of almost 6,000 people near Peoria. The Eureka in Kansas is a stand-alone town of about 2,500 east of Wichita. I know Eureka, MO quite well. On the flood-prone Meramec River, it is home to a venerable amusement park called Six Flags. We always go through this town that was established way back in 1858 when we visit my sister in Sullivan. There are Eurekas on maps of Florida, Mississippi, and Utah. The Eureka in Nevada is a viable town on Highway 50, the so-called Loneliest Road in the US. Many Eurekas have become associated with mines and minerals.
We know Eureka, California well. A town approaching 30,000 people, it’s in redwood tree country near the Oregon border and just north of the Avenue of the Giants, as in huge trees along Highway 101. Eureka, CA is the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland, OR. Like Eureka, MO has big floods, Eureka, CA is known for big earthquakes. Eureka, CA has show business connections. It was once home to Lloyd Bridges, father of Jeff, Brendan Fraser, who is trying to reignite his movie career, and singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles. Ruth & I learned about Eureka a lot more when this town’s Blue Ox Ironworks, Victorian house restorers, got involved in building Abe Lincoln’s funeral coach.
“Eureka” has become a frequently used interjection as in “Eureka!” he exclaimed.