The Eureka area’s first known inhabitants were Shawnee Indians on the banks of the Meramec and even today artifacts can be found as evidence of their past occupation of the area.
The Missouri Pacific Railroad was opened to Franklin (now Pacific) on July 19, 1853. It is said that as the builders of the railroad track came around the bend on the east side of the present site of Eureka and looked westward at the level land with no rocks and very little dirt to move they cried out, “Eureka!”, which translated from Greek means “I’ve found it!”. This is how Eureka received its name.
Eureka was laid out as a village in 1858 by Strodt and Shands of St. Louis. Some of the early families in Eureka were:
- James and Peter M. Brown
- Major Beale (and his son Dr. J.B.H. Beale)
- Edward William Johnston
- George Hornecker
- Thomas Thomas
- Lorenzo Votaw
In 1890, Eureka was a prosperous village of about 100 homes surrounded by fine fruit and agricultural land. The country roads to Crescent, Big River, Antire, Bald Hill, Glencoe, Allenton and Clifty Creek all centered here and Eureka, to her credit at this time, had:
- 2 Blacksmiths
- 3 Stores
- Catholic Chapel
- District School
- Freemasons’ Hall
- Fresh Air Camp for Poor and Orphaned City Children
- Methodist Church
- Post Office
- Wagon Maker
In 1900, the Children’s Industrial Farm began operating and later became Camp Wyman. Camp Wyman, now known as Wyman Center, is still operating camp programs for underprivileged children.
The first high school class was held in 1909 in Eureka. Eureka-based schools over the years have provided education to children from many areas including:
- Cedar Hill
- Creve Coeur
- House Springs
Today, the City of Eureka is served by the award-winning Rockwood School District.
Over the years, a number of disasters have hit Eureka including floods, tornadoes and a number of major fires. Such disasters led to the formation of the Eureka Volunteer Fire Department in 1945, when they constructed a firehouse and acquired equipment. In 1970, the Eureka Fire Protection District was formed and now serves a 79 square mile area. In 1972, the first ambulance was acquired by the District to serve the area that was made possible by citizen and community organizational efforts.
In 1954, the City of Eureka was incorporated as a 4th-class city with a land area of approximately 2.7 square miles. Over the years, the City has had a number of successful annexations and today is a City of approximately 9.35 square miles. The population of the City has grown as follows over the years according to U.S. Censuses:
- 817 in 1950
- 1,134 in 1960
- 2,384 in 1970
- 3,862 in 1980
- 4,683 in 1990
- 7,676 in 2000
- 10,189 in 2010
The City of Eureka’s annual budget has grown from approximately $3,400 in 1954 to over $4,000,000 today.
Six Flags Amusement Park
In 1970, the Six Flags - St. Louis Amusement Park was constructed and serves as a major tourist attraction in the Midwest. An average of two to three million people visit Six Flags St. Louis annually. The presence of Six Flags - St. Louis and the community’s proximity to the City of St. Louis has influenced and spurred growth in the Eureka area.