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!” That is how Eureka got 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 in the immediate area surrounded by fine fruit and agricultural land. The country roads to Cresent, 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 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.
Over the years, a number of disasters have hit Eureka including floods, tornados and a number of major fires. Such disasters led to the formation of the Eureka Volunteer Fire Department in about 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, which 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 8 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. The City of Eureka annual budget has grown from approximately $3,400.00 in 1954 to over $3,000,000.00 today.In 1970, the Six Flags Over Mid-America Amusement Park was constructed, which is a major tourist attraction in the mid-west. An average of 2 million persons visit Six Flags annually. The presence of Six Flags Amusement Park has influenced and spurred growth in the Eureka area.