Yreka was founded after gold was discovered in the nearby mountains in 1851. Many of the first residents of Yreka would have come from the over crowded and over worked claims of the Sierra Nevada Motherlode. The population of Yreka quickly grew to several thousands. Within a few years Yreka's boom period was over. Its population had settled to 1200 by the 1860 census. Into the 20th century Yreka's population was remarkably stable, hovering at a little above 1,000. It gradually grew in importance as a regional commercial center and began slowly growing again in the 1900s. It now has a population of 7,765. Slow growth and its many years as a regional center have left Yreka with a remarkable collection of historic commercial buildings. In spite of the fact that it is immediately off of interstate 5, there is very little tourist related development in Yreka. So even though Yreka is the most important historic city in region that includes Mount Shasta, numerous ski resorts and other attractions- downtown Yreka is fairly empty.