The linked pages above show examples of the three significantly different methods used to protect the “Mother” Orange Tree from damage by vehicles, domestic animals and people. Baesed on photo evidence the apparent order of use was:
- First, picket fencing
- Second, wooden posts & horizontal rails,
- Third, cement posts with a single wooden rail then the wooden rail was replaced with a cable or chain.
The excate date of the transition between the methods has not been established in this ongoing research.
A group of six men, staning in front of a mature"Mother" Orange Tree; during the time when the picket fence protected the tree, continues to baffel historians. Who were these men and what was the purpose of the meeting.
Based on a 1858, deed Joseph E. N. Lewis, a major owner of the Bidwell Bridge Company, purchased a roughly one-hundred and fifty foot retangular area located twenty feet above the bidwell bridge that was known as the Frenchman’s Garden.
Some writings indicate the original orange tree was located on the north (Berry Creek) end of the bridge. This researcher believes this information is incorrect. Historian Phil Ravert, who has extensively researched this subject, also believes the information is in error.[i] Some incorrect references to the location of the Bidwell’s Bar orange tree may have been caused by general and incorrect cardinal direction references in relationship to the ends of the suspension bridge. The two researcher’s viewponts are also based on the physical evidence at the northerly (Berry Creek) end of the bridge and fact that the poineers at Bidwell’s Bar were very practical people. The geology, soil, physical space and distance to the place of human activitivies, at the north end (Berry Creek) end of the bridge, are not condusive to the placement of the original tree at that location. However, placing the origainl orange tree below the bridge on the south (Oroville ) end of the bridge is the most logical location for the original planting. That location is where top soil washed down the river would have been deposited, creating a sutable planting site. However, it was in a low area and subject to flooding. After the 1862 flood, the decision was made to relocate the orange tree, upriver from the bridge, but close to the river, on the lower edge of the Fernchman Garden area. The new planting location had to be constructed, which included a curving rock wall that seperated this area from the Feather River. The planting site was then filled with top soil to create a suitable place for the relocated tree.
[i]A Historical study of the Origin of the Mother orange Tree and the Construction of the Bidwell’s Bar Suspension Bridge at Bidwell’s Bar, California. (Part One – California’s Mother Orange tree). Unpublished manuscript, 2009. Source: Personal communication with Phil Ravert & Butte County Historical Society.
This twelve-page document provides an excellent summary the various versions of the history of the Mother Orange tree located at Bidwell’s Bar, and other references to orange trees in the area dating back to 1850.