WEED, YREKA, WILLITS, UKIAH
The original arch at this location was a grand thing built in 1922 of high density concrete reinforced with steel. It carried the message, Welcome to Weed. It was taken down in 1963, because of some surface cracks that worried city officials that it might fall. Ironically, its demolition proved to be a much more difficult job than anyone expected taking longer and costing more than was bargained for.
Once gone, it was 27 years before the existing arch (above) took its place. The new 17,000 pound steel arch is the result of a dream and dedication of one man, Vaune Dillman, the so called "grandfather" of the arch. His struggle to make it a reality is a long story (more than a page in my book) but the arch was finally erected on October 15, 1990. The arch carries two messages, WEED on one side and THANK YOU on the other. Weed Chamber of Commerce Photo.
On June 28, 1917 this electric sign with the name YREKA was hung diagonally across Miner Street at its intersection with main Street in Yreka. The five 24-inch high individual letters spelling out the name was fastened to an arch shaped framework suspended and supported by wires fastened to poles on each side of the street. The $300 sign was a gift to the city by the city's business community. The sign was removed in the 1960s during the construction of the freeway through Yreka. A freeway offramp eliminated the intersection previously occupied by the sign.
In 1976, the Yreka chapter of the Soroptimist International, resurrected the badly deteriorated sign from the city's corporation yard and restored it to its original condition.
The new sigh was erected as a free standing arch in Yreka's central intersection where it stands today as a reminder of days past. City of Yreka photo.
The Yreka arch as it looks today. Displaced by the coming of the freeway to the city in the 1960s, it was later rescued by the Yreka chapter of the Soroptimist International and erected here in 1976.
The Willits Welcome Arch is enjoying a second life, so to speak. For twenty-three years this structure stood astride Virginia Street in Reno, NV until it was replaced in 1987 with its existing, more modern version.
A gift to the City of Willits from the City of Reno in 1990, the arch was redone in its present form and dedicated on July 1, 1995 in conjunction with the annual Willits Frontier Days celebration. It is co-sponsored by the City of Willits, the Willits Chamber of Commerce, Willits Frontier Days and the Mendicino County Museum. The actual cost of refurbishing and erecting the arch was approximately $70,000 and its present value is estimated to be in excess of $250,000.
The name WILLITS occupies the top center of the arch on both sides. Below that, on one side is the slogan, "Gateway to the Redwoods." On the other side it reads "Heart of Mendicino County." In addition, there are four logos situated in four circular ares adjacent to the name Willits. There are two logos on each side of the arch. The logos represent events, attractions and the heritage of Willits. On one side there is "The Bucking Horse & Rider," representing Willits Frontier Days and "The Steam Train," representing Willits as a railroad hub. On the other side is "The County Museum," representing the history of the county and "The 1957 Chevy" representing the Annual Willits Community Festival and car show.
The 66-foot wide arch spans Highway 101, which is somewhat of a small miracle in itself, since most of the arches that no longer exist owe their demise to having been over such a highway. As far as I know, this is the only welcome arch that has served in two different states and it is also possibly the newest such arch in the state of California. If there is a newer one, I hope someone will tell me where it is.
The above Welcome Arch/Sign was erected over State Street at River Road (now Gobbi Street), in April of 1923.
Thirteen feet wide and constructed of enameled steel, the sign was 13 feet in width. The enamaled steel not only made the sign impervious to rain and some other weather conditions, it also made it easier to keep clean.
With the permission of the local power company, the sign was suspended by cables from two of their poles. Several incandescent light bulbs within the sixteen inch high letters forming the name UKIAH, illuminated the sign at night. The letters forming the slogan, "Gateway to the Redwoods" were each 8'' high, but were not lighted.
The Ukiah Chamber of Commerce paid for the sign which was in place until April 1940. Like so many others before it in many other towns, lack of interest in the sign probably contributed to its demise. Deemed to be a dangerous nuisance, it was removed, rather than restored.
Today, the neighboring town of Willits has a beautiful arch that lays claim to the title of Gateway to the Redwoods.
If you know of any Welcome Arches in California, past or present, that are not shown here, I would like to hear from you. In my book, Arch Rivals, I have many more and some will be added to this site, but I am always looking for any that I may have missed.
Click here to Email us