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 Lorenzo Votaw, Thomas Thomas, George Hornecker, Edward William Johnston, Major Beale (his son Dr. J.B.H. Beale) and James and Peter M. Brown.
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 had to her credit at this time a Catholic Chapel, a Methodist Church, a Post Office, a Freemasons’ Hall, three stores, a district school, two blacksmiths, a wagon maker, a saloon, and a fresh air camp for poor & orphaned city children. 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 Fenton, Creve Coeur, Manchester, House Springs, Cedar Hill, Allenton, Eureka, Glencoe and others. 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: 817 in 1950; 1,134 in 1960; 2,384 in 1970; 3,862 in 1980; 4,683 in 1990, and 7,676 according to the 2000 U.S. Census. The City of Eureka’s annual budget has grown from approximately $3,400.00 in 1954 to over $4,000,000.00 today.
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.