Bidwell Town Site Location

Town site area of the Town of Bidwell at Bidwell’s Bar, Butte County, California

The highlighted area within the dashed lines defines the location of the historic town of Bidwell. The area remains remarkably unchanged in this 1964 photo except for the riverbank area. In 1853, the bank along the river was 30 feet or more in height sloping upward to the right. The town Plaza was located in about the center of the parking lot, which is visible in the center of the highlighted area. During the years 1853-1856, tunnels extended from the river underneath the town. After 1856 virtually the entire area was hydraulic mined down to bedrock. The beach area was developed between 1922 and 1964, when the area was operated by the Bidwell Bar Park Association (Fellows Club) then as the Curry-Bidwell State Historic Park, as a recreation area. During 1853-1856 there was very little development northwest (left) of the river. The developments in that area started just prior to the turn of the century. The largest rectangular building in this area is the Buis Store.

Over time, three bridges became significant related to Bidwell’s Bar. The cement bridge, in the foreground was built in 1947, to accommodate the heavy loads that could no longer be supported by the original Bidwell’s Bar Bridge. The 240 foot long* 1856 suspension bridge across the Middle Fork of the Feather River is visible in the center of the photo. It was closed to vehicle traffic in 1954. The north tower of the new Bidwell Bridge is visible in the top left corner of the photo. The completed bridge spanned 1,108 feet* and the roadway was 627 feet above the streambed.

* The lengths indicated are for the center suspension span area of bridge.

This cropped aerial view is from a larger California Department of Water Resources photo. Courtesy of Larry Matthews