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.
- “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,” by Wes Dempsey, an article describing a part of the park that was once a State Board of Forestry demonstration plantation.
- Annie Bidwell’s Deed giving the park to Chico
- Yahi Trail, by Wes Dempsey An article describing the construction of the Yahi Trail in 1967. The article, was written in 1997 for publication in a Sierra Club newsletter.
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.