Closing State Parks: Bidwell Mansion

Uploaded by KCHONews on 29.06.2011

A piece of Chico history may soon be packed away into boxes and crates then
shipped off to Sacramento.
Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park is one of the 70 California parks
threatened with closure due to state budget cuts. Amber Drake, Bidwell Mansion's
only full-time employee, discussed the historical significance of the mansion
and John Bidwell, founder of Chico. "If you wanted to tell the story of
California history,
and wanted to create a fictional character that could be in all the right places at
all the right times to help tell the story
that person would be John Bidwell." John Bidwell was a self-made man and the son of a
He crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in a covered wagon at the age of 22.
During the Bear Flag Revolt, Bidwell became a major and actually wrote the
revolt's manifesto.
The day gold was found in 1848
Bidwell was there.
He took the gold to San Francisco to be authenticated.
Bidwell stood next to President Fillmore as he signed the proclamation making California
part of the United States.
On July 4, 1889, Bidwell made one of the richest strikes of
the gold rush and used this fortune to purchase Rancho Chico
22,000 acres of land in Butte County. "The Bidwells always saved, never sold off, any of the property that was their
favorite place to bring guests.
An area along the creek that ran for miles that had amazing foliage and amazing topography.
They ended up giving that to the city
as a city park.
In 1905,
Annie gave about
2,400 acres of just the most
prime acreage to the city.
At the time she wanted to believe that in a hundred years people would
enjoy the park
the way she and John had with their friends. It's very much like it was a hundred years ago.
That certainly is a contribution that has lasted more than a century."
What hurt Drake most about the impending closure
was that the next generation will not benefit from this unique history lesson,
as did their parents and older brothers and sisters.
She said that these field trips are a local tradition.
Third and fourth grade classes visit the 26 room victorian home each
year for a look into to Chico's past.
Many children still don't know much about history.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, in 2010
less than one-quarter of students performed at or above the proficient level
for U.S. history.
"The idea of seeing their eyes just light up or have those ah-ha moments where they're like
ohh I get it! And you realize they really didn't get it before. Now all of a sudden, something makes sense
something clicks. To see that almost on a daily basis, where kids
kinda come in maybe they're tired or maybe they're wiggly
or you just don't think they're going to focus.
Then the next you thing know,
their eyes are wide open, and they're
so excited because they're learning something and they like it and they're putting things together."
Drake added that Bidwell Mansion helps cultivate a sense of community.
It is a connection to the past and to each other.
For Northstate Public Radio, I'm intern Ashley Nakano reporting from Bidwell Mansion
in Chico.