Welcome to Eureka!
“Eh? What’s that? Looking for the Neptune? Boy, you must be new in town. Just took the train up from San Francisco, did ya? Well, welcome to Eureka, Queen City of the Ultimate West, Crown Jewel of the Redwood Empire! Biggest, baddest, brightest city of ‘em all! There’s no place quite like Eureka. Here, let me take that bag for you…no, it’s no trouble at all! Hail us a hansom and I’ll show you around!
“This whole part of town here is Dockside. Looks pretty during the day, don’t it? You can see the ships sail in past the sandbars, all the folks hard at work…but come nightfall, it’s a different story. You don’t go out here at night, you understand? There’ve been some strange disappearances in Dockside at night. Nobody’s real sure what to make of it, but the colored folks’re like to say the Darklings are responsible. Some ghost story or another they tell their children to keep ‘em in line. Some of the more cosmopolitan folks say a serial killer, maybe Jack the Ripper, is to blame, claimin’ as he fled here to Eureka from London. Can’t say I credit it much myself. If you’re looking for things to do during the daylight hours here in Dockside, you might stop in at Orson’s Imports and Exports. He’s a colored man, but folks say he’s got connections and he gets things from all over. You want something rare, Orson’s the man to see. Now if your fancy runs in…hah…a different direction, you might stop in to Madame Rita’s Salon. She caters to a very diff’r’nt set of appetites, if you catch my meaning. Folks say that there’s nothing…and I mean nothing…Madame Rita can’t provide, if your money’s good. And now here at the edge of Dockside we have the Lost Coast Saloon and Brewery. This is about as far as smart-dressed folks like yourself ever get into Dockside. If you’re looking to live a little rough for an evening, come on by for a brew…just don’t stay out past dark.
“Now here we are at the Boardwalk! This’s the place most folks like yourself come to see. The Boardwalk is the heartbeat of Eureka and the reason why they call it a Boom Town. You hear that? That’s the sound of opportunity knocking, my friend! Fortunes are made and lost here every day. People keep on betting that science will save them, investing fortunes in the next young hotshot with a phlogiston-powered schematic to peddle. Stop by any one of the Boardwalk cafes if you want to hear one of them science-y sales pitches. If you prefer to lose your money the old fashioned way, though, the Neptune Casino will be glad to lighten your pockets. Guess you were planning to head their way anyhow, eh? Driver, just a little farther please! Now hold on son, you got a whole lot more of Eureka to see. The Neptune’ll still be there when you get back.
“This here, just past the Boardwalk, this is Myrtletown. Keep craning your neck like that, son, and you’re liable to break something! Hah, don’t blame you though. These houses’re the finest in America, I’d say. Partic’l’rly the Carson Mansion. There it is yonder. There ain’t a house that can rival it, not even Governor Norton’s Gubernatorial Manor. Mr. Carson’s made a fortune since the phlogiston rush. Wh…what, you mean to tell me you don’t know the story of William Carson, George Wilson and the discovery of phlogiston? You really are wet behind the ears, son! Well the story, like they tell it ‘round here, is that George Wilson, he was a lumberjack for Mr. Carson’s logging comp’ny. He was out sawing redwood with his crew when they found a tree that had been…well, fossilized is the word the science-y folks use. Turned to crystal or somesuch. He brought a chunk of it back to Carson, and the rest is history. In no time flat, Carson and his partner, John Dolbeer, were using the phlogiston to power their steam-driven logging equipment. Then Leland Stanford caught wind of the operation and thought he might use the phlogiston to run his trains. That was a Stanford Phlogisteamer you rode into town today, son. We’ve even got our very own Stanford Estate here in Myrtletown and some say the robber-baron is trying to buy up Eureka land, hoping to get a bigger share of the phlogiston crop. But that’s a tale for another time. Speaking of, there are some who think that the whole George Wilson story is a hoax. For one thing, no one’s seen old George since before the boom. He oughta be a rich man, some figure, what with the part he played in making this city great. Then some’ll have you believe that the redskins were using phlogiston long before we pale-faces came to Jefferson, smoking it in their peace pipes or somesuch. They believe that phlogiston is a powerful drug and that the early settlers killed the Indians to get it. Hah, as if anyone would smoke a crystal tree…
“Just keep on, driver, and turn right here at the end of Second Street. This’s the Mission District, son, and you guessed it, that there impressive lookin’ building is the Mission San Sebastian, under the care of Archbishop Richelieu. We got the only real Basque mission on the West Coast, see, and under the direction of a Frenchman, no less! We’re mighty open-minded ’round here in Eureka. The first mission collapsed in an earthquake…you can visit the ruins just at the edge of the Myrtle Grove Cemetery if you’ve a mind to. Richelieu wanted this new one built up like a real French cathedral, see, with the pointy bits and…whaddayacallem…right, the buttresses, that’s it…well said, son. He’s got some awful big ideas. People say the archbishop was a big man in Paris before coming to Eureka, and that he brought some…hah…special servants of the Church along with him when he re-lo-cated.
“Now if you were gonna keep on heading south, son, you’d end up at the end of the Boardwalk District in the City Center. Not much to see there, ‘bout the same as any government I figure. Governor Norton’s not much of a leader, you see. People talk, you know, saying there’s a traitor in every group and that the governor’s getting undercut at every turn, some think by Richelieu, some think by the Redwood Empire’s big industry, that’s either Carson or Stanford. Some say the head of the militia, General Pennypacker, is the traitor. And then there’re those who say the shadows themselves are whispering mutiny and the whole city’s doomed. Obv’s’ly, those people haven’t been down by the Neptune lately. No matter what the Governor’s up to, or not, the truth of the matter is that Galusha’s Double-Crossers are the best armed militia in the nation, what with their phlogiston-powered weaponry and the expert command of our very own General Galusha Pennypacker, youngest Civil War general to serve! You want to know who really has the power in this town, you find out who has Pennypacker and the Double-Crossers in their pocket.
“South and east past the City Center is the Pine Hills District and Indianola. This’s where the locals have been driven off to…both the pale-face and the redskin, all huddling off in the hills. There’re plenty who loved the old Eureka and hate the Boom Town for what it’s become. Chief Wecoma, over at the Wiyot Indian Reservation, keeps preachin’ that we oughta ‘respect the earth,’ and whatnot, and more than a few of the old lumberjacks have started believin’ him. A good many of those couldn’t spell the word ‘hypocrisy’ to save their lives either, if you catch my drift. Then there are those locals who’ll have you believe that science will mechanize your soul, and the shadows will steal it. They think the Boardwalk is a den of thieves and talk of secret societies pulling all the strings in Eureka. In fact, some even say that Governor Norton is a Rosicrucian and Archbishop Richelieu has Templar connections, and if you don’t know what those things are, the reg’lars at the Lost Coast Saloon’ll tell you tales of witchcraft and Satanism and pederasty. An out-of-towner like yourself oughtn’t venture out into the Hills of Oblivion alone, but you can take a trolley tour out to the foot of Mount Shasta if you’ve a mind. They say the Ancient Lemurians still walk the mount, and some locals say that Lemurian tunnels run right underneath Eureka down to the sea.
“Now, if you’ve a mind to see what phlogiston has done to this fair town, take a trolley through the Cemetery to the Lantern District, at the southeast corner of Arcata Bay. Back before the boom, the locals ran the Chinamen right out of town, y’know, and the Senate passed an edict banning them from ever returning. Then the boom came, and suddenly Wishywash Norton caves to pressure from industry to bring the Chinamen back. Cheap labor, you see. But they’re kept to the Lantern District, Eureka’s Chinatown. It’s a filthy place, even by Dockside standards, and you can see that the culture clash has done the Chinamen no favors. If you’ve a taste for Oriental food, Tso’s Angry Dragon is one place that’s not above serving the Boom Town populace, though it caters to the Triad…those’re Chinese gangs…much more readily. Madame Ming’s Teahouse is the Lantern District’s worst-kept secret. Everyone knows where it is, no one seems to know exactly how to get through the door, and as for what goes on there…well, I’ll refer ya to the reg’lars at the Saloon to figure that one out.
“North past the Lantern District, on the east side of Arcata Bay, is the Industrial District. Not much to see there at all, unless you like factories and phlogiston refineries and the smell of dirty water. Carson owns half the factories there, and the only people who’d live in all the smoke are the science-y types working on their next invention. John Dolbeer was here for a time, working on an invention for the Exposition, though folks say Dolbeer is digging too deep into the way phlogiston works. You can get a cheap loft there in the Industrial District, in any case, if you’ve a mind to stay in town longer than a few nights at the Neptune.
“And then, if you’ve a mind for learnin’…and you do look like a smart young man, if I may say…you can take a trip across the bay to Arcata, on the north side of the water. Time was that Arcata was the crown jewel of the Redwood Empire, back when gold was the thing. Now all she’s got going for her is Arcata University, and that’s something I s’pose. They’ve got a library, in any case. Most folks consider Arcata just a part of Eureka, but I still say the Arcatians’re looking down their noses at us here in the Boom Town.
“Two other places I oughta tell you about before we finish up our tour of Eureka. The first you really oughta see, and I assume it’s what you’re here for. Woodley Island, at the mouth of the bay, is all decked out for the Pan-Pacific Exposition. The Exposition’ll be starting in just a few weeks, and they say the Midway makes traveling circuses look like a game of dress-up. Then again, if you’re here for the science, the Exposition will feature the latest and greatest in phlogiston inventions from the across States and even from Japan! That’s the Pan-Pacific bit, you understand.
“You might notice, when the lights of Woodley are up, that there’s a whole lotta island that’s dark as pitch. That there bigger island is Indian Island, also known as . Chief Wecoma’ll tell you that island is called Tuluwat, and that Tuluwat is the center of the world. The truth that most people know is that the center is rotten, and the rot is spreading outward from Bloody Island. That’s the reason there’re no lights and no people on that big hunk of land. Can’t really say as what happened on Bloody Island…was a time there was a shipping yard and a family living there, back when it was called Gunther Island. Before that, some say there was a bunch of redskins slaughtered there…
“Well now, we’ve reached the end of our tour, I’m afraid. What, you want to know where we are? Why, we’re in the Myrtle Grove Cemetery, at the Lemurian Arch. Legend has it the first explorers to find Eureka, Josiah Gregg and his men, discovered the ruins of an ancient city already on the site, with this arch the only part intact. Science-y types say it’s made of volcano-rock, same as over at Mount Shasta, so the story goes that the Lemurians were Eureka’s first settlers. Lots o’ folks come by here for all kinds of reasons, but not many this late in the day, you see. Sun’s going down behind Bloody Island right about now. Our driver, Bob, he’s a superstitious man, ain’t ya, Bob? He don’t like to drive late at night…not without a very consid’rable tip, anyways. Oh, well thank you kindly, yes, I will take your wallet from you…you’re most gracious, son. And now step down from the carriage here, if you would…
“See, now, son, you oughtn’t’ve tried to run. Bob didn’t really want to shoot you, I’m sure he didn’t, but we can’t have you running away, most ’specially not now. We’ve got some plans for you, you see. Bob’s just gonna take a bit of your fine, cityfolk blood…from the cheek’s alright, just lay still there, thatsa a good lad. Now Bob, you watch your spelling this time…your Arabic is atrocious, and ‘open’ and ‘call’ are two separate words, you big lummox.
“It’s a pity your time here had to end in blood, son, but that’s the way of things in Eureka. That’s the way it all began anyway, out there on Bloody Island, with the Carson children…”