A Brief History Of Bidwell Park, by Philip A. Lydon
Plants in the Lives of Northern California Native Americans, by Wes Dempsey
Chico's Lost Arboretum An article describing a part of the park that was once a State Board of Forestry demonstration plantation, by Wes Dempsey
Annie Bidwell's Deed giving the park to Chico
A letter (date uncertain, ca. 1960s) from Grayson Price, Chico City Attorney, answers legal questions regarding Annie Bidwell's will.
A 1983 affidavit from Bidwell heir Anne Ellicot Kennedy Anderson protesting the inclusion of the park when the reversionary clause was removed from deeds to lands owned by Annie Bidwell.
An article describing the construction of the Yahi Trail in 1967. The article, by Wes Dempsey, was written in 1997 for publication in a Sierra Club newsletter.
The Yahi Trail Map and Guide, a PDF file. This guide was written in 1997. Note that the upper part of the trail has been rerouted since this guide was produced. The file is fairly large, about 7 MBytes.
Undated poster protesting herbicide use in Bidwell Park.
Go here for a table of pesticide usage over the years.
|1918||20 acre fish hatchery proposed|
|1920 (approx.)||Golf course put in - 9 holes|
|1921||Forestry Station land added to Lower Park. Now the site of Cedar Grove, the Nature Center, and World of Trees|
|1921,1926||Airplane field near golf course proposed|
|1925||First clubhouse built at golf course|
|1926||Company G, 184th Infantry gets permission to construct rifle range|
|1932||Polo field proposed|
|1933||CCC winter camp building east of the golf course proposed|
|1934||Kennedy tract (walnut orchard) added to north side of Lower Park|
|1937||The Adventures Of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland, was filmed in Lower Park|
|1937 (and prior to)||Horseshoe Lake reservoir in existence|
|1939||Petersen Memorial Drive built by CCC|
|1940||Overnight campground proposed in northeastern end of park|
|1941||Military camping okayed|
|1942-45||Diversion Dam built (year uncertain)|
|1946||Archery area established by Glenn Archery Club|
|1947||25-year lease and improvements on Radar bombing site proposed|
|1949||Recreation District formed (CARD)|
|1950||Softball field moved to Hooker Oak area|
|1950||Water control dams on Chico Creek proposed|
|1951||Day Camp established by CARD and Chico Teachers College|
|1951||First mention of Easter Cross in BPPC minutes|
|1953||CDF Fire Station (1.6 acres) proposed NW of Live Oak Grove (30 yrs)|
|1953||Horseback riding groups ask BPPC for arena site. Okayed, but no funds.|
|1953||Golf course expansion to 18 holes begins.|
|1953||Area near One Mile leased to CARD for Sycamore baseball field.|
|1953||Chief Evans asks for site for Police pistol range|
|1953-54||Pistol range under construction|
|1954||Campfire Girls dedicate Campfire Counciil Ring in Lower Park|
|1954||Chico Rod and Gun Club construction begins.|
|1955||Local midget race car group builds 250' long track in Live Oak Grove|
|1955||Proposal to expand Horseshoe Lake to 20 acres for "pleasure boating, water skiing, boat races, fishing for youngsters..."|
|1955||Park land from Arcadian Ave. west to Warner St. is given to Chico State College|
|1955 & 56||Bridge requested for private property access above Day Camp|
|1956||New rifle range requested for sole use of the National Guard, lease for 10 yrs|
|1957||Rod and Gun Club construction completed.|
|1957-58||CARD develops Hooker Oak area|
|1958||$25,000 fish ladder built. 10 dams in 300' barrier|
|1958||Motorcycle club asks to further develop Live Oak Grove area|
|1959||Dam on Chico Creek (upper park) proposed|
|1960||Construction of Highway 99 freeway across Bidwell Park begins.|
|1963||PG&E claims it will cost $147,000 extra to bypass Bidwell Park with major power lines, plus $I6,000/ year. BPPC votes 3-1 to put lines elsewhere|
|1964||PG&E power lines through upper park under construction|
|1965||Sycamore Bypass diversion channel built|
|1968||Chico Riding Club puts up arena|
|1970||Five Mile Dam Recreation Area dedication|
|1970||Caper Acres playground built|
|1971||Footbridge at golf course replaced after old one washed out by high waters in 1970|
|1972||Rod & Gun Club reports 77,300 targets used in 1971--possible cleanup of used skeet clay birds discussed|
|1972||Extensive discussion and study of closing South Park Dr. to cars|
|1972||Rifle range shade structures built|
|1973||Upper Park to be closed from 11:30 pm to 30 minutes before sunrise to reduce vandalism|
|1973||Trial period for dogs off leash in Lower and Upper Park starts|
|1974||CARD proposes tennis court construction at Hooker Oak as part of renovation and improvement plan. BPPC opposed. City Council tentatively approves.|
|1974||Park Commission votes to stop issuing wood-cutting permits for Bidwell Park|
|1974||Park Commission discusses instituting a city tree ordinance|
|1974||Park Commission meeting minutes mention using sheep for weed control in park|
|1974||Upper Park Road to be closed during wet weather at discretion of Park Superintendent|
|1975||Park Commission discusses fire hazard in Park due to undergrowth|
|1975||Banning of off-road vehicles on North Rim Trail discussed but no action taken|
|1976||Bird sanctuary proposed for Lower Park by deer pen|
|1976||Park Commission votes to close pistol range within 6 months|
|1977||Bidwell Park site (by Mangrove Ave) proposed for new city/county library|
|1979||Roller skating to be allowed in Lower Park|
|1979||Request to fly remote control planes in Horseshoe Lake area including creation of a takeoff/landing area|
|1979||North Rim road to be closed to vehicles in the winter months|
|1979||1300-acre arson fire in Upper Park|
|1980||20-station Par Course approved for Lower Park|
|1981||Upper Park controlled burns start, with 1/5 of area to be burned each year|
|1981||Commission Minutes note that there is only one trash can in Upper Park, users are supposed to "Pack it out"|
|1982||Horse-drawn carriage tours proposed for Lower Park|
|1983||Golf Course leased to private concessionaire with Park Commission relinquishing control over golf course management|
|1983||Bocci ball courts proposed for Hooker Oak area|
|1983||1300 acorns planted along Upper Park Road on north side|
|1983||Hwy 99 mural approved|
|1983||Job title for Bidwell Park's two Community Service Officers is changed to Park Ranger|
|1984||Park Department hires their first Urban Forester|
|1984||Upper Park annual controlled burns stopped|
|1985||Lost Park area surveyed and encroachments noted on maps|
|1985||Tree nursery started in 1.2 acre Lower Park walnut orchard area|
|1986||North Park Dr. to become one-way westbound, open 11 am-11 pm|
|1987||Extensive discussion regarding use of park for military training|
|1987||Discussion begins regarding feral cats in park|
|1989||Rod and Gun Club's rifle and trap shooting ranges close|
|1989||Golf course expanded and Upper Park Road realigned|
|1990||Shakespeare in the Park begins|
|1990||Bidwell Park Master Management Plan (MMP) approved by City Council.|
|1991||Bidwell Park Wildfire Management Plan.|
|1992||1.5 mile "B" Trail built by volunteers from east end of Rim Trail to Middle Trail|
|1992||0.4 mile Canyon Oak Trail (later renamed Maidu) built by volunteers from Middle Trail near Parking Area E to Rim Trail.|
|1992||Realignment of Upper Park Road and Golf Course using Mitigated Negative Declaration.|
|1993||Purchase of 40 acre BLM site on Hwy 32 (site of present disc golf courses).|
|1994||Chico General Plan approved. Bidwell Park, especially Upper Park, designated as a Resource Conservation Area (pg. 7-11).|
|1995||Acquisition of 1417 acres on south side of Big Chico Creek.|
|1997||Unofficial disc golf courses begin to develop on 40 acre Hwy 32 site.|
|1998||Annie Bidwell Trail proposed, to extend from Bidwell Mansion to end of Upper Park "within sight and sound of the creek".|
|1998-1999||Bloody Pin Trail rerouted and Guardians & Pine Trails built.|
|1999||1500 acre backfire covers north side of Upper Park between road and park boundary..|
|1999||Bidwell Park Trails Manual approved, described as a "work in progress".|
|1999||Existing disc golf course location approved by Park Commission and City Council, negotiations begin with Cal Trans regarding Hwy 32 access.|
|2000-2001||1.25 miles of Yahi Trail relocated and/or rebuilt.|
|2000-2002||Trail plan developed with 23 "Focus Areas", includes new creekside ABT pedestrian trail segments on the south side (1-1.5 miles?), new 1 mile segment of S. Rim trail, new trail from the N. Rim Trail starting at the power lines to Bear Hole, a new trail from the eastern end of Lower Trail to Bear Hole, a new trail from the Middle Trail to the potential Day Camp area bridge site, a new trail from the junction of the B Trail and Middle Trail to Parking Area U at the end of the road, reroute of east end of Upper Trail and several reroutes of Yahi Trail between Bear Hole and Parking Area P..|
|2002||Horseshoe Lake Fishing Pier built.|
|2002||GPS mapping of existing park trails and roads shows 40+ miles of official and frequently used unofficial trails and road on the north side and 28 miles on the south side.|
|2002||Bridges proposed above Day Camp and at the end of Upper Park Road.|
|2002||Boundary survey on south side shows that some park trails from disc golf area cross private property and may need to be rerouted.|
|2003||19 acre antimony, lead, copper and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons removal project planned for Horseshoe Lake and lead removal at former pistol range.|
|2003||Conceptual approval of observatory outdoor seating area & spotting pads, including realignment of the road to Parking Area C..|
|2003||Funding for update of Bidwell Park Master Management Plan and associated EIR approved by City Council.|
|2003||Conceptual approval of horse workout pen by Horse Arena.|
The Big Chico Creek is a mountain stream coming down from 40-50 miles up in the snow capped peaks of the Sierras.Hooker Oak measurements taken over 30 years ago (1900)
Number of people that could stand under the tree (allowing 2 square feet per person) - 7885
On the top of a hill In upper portion of the park is a large white cross where we used to have Sunrise Easter Services every year when thousands of people used to gather at sunrise. A new ground and cross has been made so as to accommodate 4 other towns, a little south and east of the city now.
Other information on the pools, etc. included in this article.
Bidwell Park was a pasture In 1887 and cows, horses and sheep browsed around eating the grass and chewing the low growing shrubs and vines. The first swimming party attended by both ladles and gentlemen Is recorded as having taken place June 2, 1887, Previous to that date only the younger boys en- joyed this sport in the park and invariably went in the water without swim suits.
The commission is free to permit Sunday picnics, allow liquor to be carried on the property, sanction organized games for profit and any other things forbidden in J. Bidwell's will.
Council approved a resolution accepting a "reversion deed" from the Title, Insurance and Guarantee Company of San Francisco. By this move liability for any action by Bidwell heirs or assigns to get the property back because of violations of the provisions of the will now must be directed against the San Fransisco Company.
On July 10, 1905 Annie Bidwell sold 1902.88 acres of land along Big Chico Creek for the sum of $1.00. In May, 1911, an additional 301.76 acres in the same general area were deeded to the city.
In April, 1911 Mrs, Bidwell granted the land now known as Children's Playground to the city, with the notation that it was "intended for and to be used pri- marily as a children's park and playground, although it was not intended that any person be excluded on account of age or sex." The land was described as lying alongside "Sa-We-Ko Avenue" a roadway which is said to be called Sowilleno Avenue now.
The city plaza was deeded to the city on April 23, 1872 for use as a promenade through town. However the deed stated that the land might be used to build a city courthouse if the need ever arose.
Nearly 1 million people last year took advantage of the park's facilities. The land Is mostly covered with groves of valley and live oaks. Including the huge Hooker Oak, the largest of the valley oaks In the world. The park follows the course of Chico Creek from the city 9 miles Into the foot hills. At the eastern end, the creek flows through rugged gorges, with precipitous walls rising 100 feet from the stream in places. In the lower half, Chico Creek Is a graceful and cool stream, bordered by stately California Sycamores and oaks whose over hanging limbs are festooned with wild grape vines. At the present site of the children's baseball diamond near Sycamore Pool was where Bidwell laid out his drill grounds for the army divisions he commanded during the Civil War.
A 7 mile equestrian trail opened in Bidwell Park. 175 riders participated on April 27, 1959. The trail ran from Sycamore Pool east to the Devil's Kitchen area,
December 9 1954: City Council approved the expenditure of $2,500 to provide zoo fa- cilities in Bidwell Park.
April 26, 1956 Complaints about zoo odor. Animal facilities inadequate for winter. Cages too small. Lack of money and knowledge.
May 16, 1956 Zoo started within the past 2 years had proven to be a popular attraction.
Stripping experiments are underway in Bidwell Park's Spanish Cork Grove;
1940 1st stripping 15 trees
1946 2nd stripping ?
1950 -- Bidwell Park Commission granted permission to Omicron Theta Epsllon, organization for biology students at Chico State, to fence in 2 acres of the park for a five year experiment: grazing sheep versus wildflowers.
June 10, 1958: Freeway okayed by City Council .
...we believe that this historical data will be of benefit to both new and old residents of this area -- also a source of information to all -- all will encourage an appreciation for one of the largest natural city parks In the nation, which has come to us as a part of our heritage, by the grace of God and the understanding kindness of Mrs. Annie Bidwell.
Bidwell Park was originally called Vallombrosa because of Its likeness to a famous Italian wooded resort by that name.
The land embodied in this proposed property has been a part of the Bidwell estate since the early days, is a part of the original grant, and some of it is as fertile as the valleys of the Nile. The sentiment that prompted General and Mrs. Bidwell to preserve the natural beauty of this immense tract along Chico Creek; to spend thousands of dollars in the protection of the young oaks and vines and the building of roadways and pathways over the hundreds of acres, which others would have cleared and farmed for profit, is the same sentiment that prompter Mrs. Bidwell to welcome the time she can execute a deed to this property to the City of Chico and feel assured that this beautiful hand work of nature will be preserved for the enjoyment and betterment of humanity.