“Mud” Street and “Underground Eureka”
Professor Kalklosch’s Guidebook, published in 1880, states: “The first street of the town was surveyed down the gulch below the spring. A broad avenue connects this street with the famous Eureka Basin Spring. It being the first street it was named Main Street. Owing to its low elevation and the law of gravitation, water would find a level in the street and as immense travel created an abundance of mud, the street was nicknamed “Mud,” a name without musk or elegance.”
Dozens of wooden structures lined Main Street along a small creek which collected runoff from the springs. Great fires in 1883 and 1888 destroyed most of the early buildings. Owners rapidly rebuilt more substantial commercial blocks of limestone and brick but set at the same level along the creek and narrow street.
In 1890, major street improvements were undertaken. Limestone walls were built, filled in and smoothed to provide a wider surface for Main and Spring streets, often raising the new throughfares up to the second story level in front of many fine business houses whose ground floor doors and windows then faced the new retaining walls a few feet away.
Thus, a series of buildings along Main and the downhill side of Spring Street turned ground floors into basements connected by narrow passageways that once were storefronts. Most Main Street buildings also have yet another basement level through which runs the little stream of water.