Dedication of Bidwell Bar Bridge and “Mother” Orange Tree
On November 27, 1926, members of the Native Sons & Daughters of the Golden West, County Board of Supervisors, scouts and others participated in a dedication ceremony at the Bidwell’s Bar bridge site. Earl Ward of Oroville was the president of the Argonaut Parlor, NSGW, and the chairman of the dedication ceremony. Francis Danforth (Boyle ) was the district deputy grand president of the Native Daughters and gave a speech at the dedication. Other speakers were Hilliar Welch of Stockton, NSGW grand president and Frank Roohr, chairman of the county board of supervisors. J. H. Leggett, a nephew of Howard Burt, unveiled the dedication plaque. Mr. Burt planted the orange tree at the direction of Judge Lewis, who was one of the principal owners of the Bidwell Bridge Company. *
In the group on the right the lady in the back row is Francis Danforth-Boyle. The large man in front of and to the right of Boyle is Earl Ward. The man in the front row in the light colored suit is Dr. H. J. Webber of the Citrus Experiment Station. He wrote and delivered a poem about the mother orange tree. Enlarged group photos are located at the bottom of this page. Can you help identify any of the other people?
The title of “Mother Orange Tree” has been associated with the tree at the Bidwell’s Bridge site because it was one of the earliest orange trees in Butte County. Measurements of the tree were made by Dr. Webber, of the University of California Citrus Experiment Station and Harry E. Drobish who was at that time the county farm advisor. The measurements of the tree recorded it to be 31 feet, 6 inches in height. The circumference of the tree trunk, one-foot above the ground, was 5 feet 6 inches. The average spread of the branches was 30 feet. At that time it was estimated the tree held a crop of 10,000 oranges.*
The Bidwell’s Bar bridge was under construction during 1855-56 when the debate over the location of the county seat was a major issue between Bidwell and Oroville. In the 1856 election Oroville won the designation as the county seat and the relocation occurred in the same year. The Bidwell’s Bar Bridge was completed in the last days of December 1856. Research has not located any record of a dedication ceremony for the Bidwell's Bar Bridge prior to the 1926 dedication. It was seventy years (1856 -1926) before this icon of Bidwell’s Bar was honored! The bitter rivalry that developed between the two communities during the county seat debate may have delayed this celebration to the next generation.
* Old Days in Butte County by Francis Danforth-Boyle. ANCHR, 2006. Chapter 8
Can you identify any of the people in the dedication photo? Below are two group photos with numbers on each person. In 2014 the GGG Granddaughter of G.W. Brooks provided the identification for three of his sons, Orion, Elmont and Jay Brooks. If you can identify other individuals please send the information to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. You will be helping to document history!
Research has not located the names of the individuals in the photo above. In the photo below #29 is Dr. H. J. Webber, # 34 Elmont Brooks, # 38 Jay Brooks, # 40 Orion Brooks, # 41 is Francis Danforth-Boyle, and #44 is Earl Ward. The other individuals in this photo have not been identified during the current research.