The History of Bidwell Park


Bidwell Park, often called the “Jewel of Chico,” is by far the greatest legacy Chico founders General John and Annie Bidwell left to the community. It was John Bidwell’s wish that Annie would give this land to the City of Chico for public use. She did so by deeding 1,900 acres in 1905 and another 301 acres in 1911. This parkland stretched from Upper Park in the east to Children’s Playground in the west. Over the years, additions to the park were purchased by the City of Chico bringing the total acreage of the park to almost 2,300 acres by 1935. At that time, Bidwell Park was the fourth-largest municipal park in the country. In 1995, the City of Chico acquired 1417 acres on south side of Big Chico Creek bringing the total park land to its current 3,670 acres. Bidwell Park stretches nearly eleven miles, straddling Big Chico Creek from the Bidwell Mansion in downtown Chico up into the foothills of Upper Park.


Historical documents

The Friends of Bidwell Park’s History Page

View the articles here.

  • Articles from the Chico Record, July 1905, describe Annie Bidwell’s gift:
    • An editorial on Annie’s gift to the city
    • Description of the public meeting held to thank Annie
    • The City Council resolutions in which Chico formally accepts the gift
    • Bridge at Five Mile, 1960 Photo by Robbins King
    • 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.