“Eureka!” a miner is said to have exclaimed in September 1864 when he discovered rich ore here – and thus the town was named.  Eureka soon developed the first important lead-silver deposits in the nation, and during the furious boom of the 1880s, it had 16 smelters, over 100 saloons, a population of 10,000 and a railroad – the colorful Eureka and Palisade – that connected with the transcontinental line 90 miles to the north.

Production began to fall off in 1883, and by 1891, the smelters closed, their sites marked by the huge slag piles at both ends of Main Street.