C.F. Lott Home
Known to most locals as simply, the "Lott Home", this beautiful 19th century Victorian house, sits in the city's beautiful Sank Park. The Lott family traces its roots back to 17th century Holland.
The house was built in 1856 by local judge, Charles Fayette Lott, a gold-rush pioneer who later become state senator, and started the state's first Citrus Exchange. Charles Lott was originally from Quincy, Illinois, and had a strong association with Abraham Lincoln, which is clearly visible when you tour the house. Lott was also a practicing Free Mason, and there are some original knight's template swords on display in the house.
The house also retells his daughter, Cornelia’s, love story with Jesse Sank, the one the park is named after, and their eventual happiness.
Although the house is now over 150 years old, only two generations of families have lived here, Charles Lott's family, and his daughter, Cornelia's family. The house stayed within the family 'til 1960. Today, it serves as a museum, for both locals and tourists to enjoy, and learn a little Victorian history.
I liked this house better, than the Ehmann Home I visited earlier. Unlike the Ehmann Home, this one feels 100% like a historic home. Although some of the original furniture has been replaced, with ones from the same era, several original pieces still remain, unlike at the Ehmann home. These are clearly labeled for visitors.
In addition to its beautiful Victorian furniture, the house also contains a nice collection of 19th century literature, original Victorian china, lace, and clothing, artwork made from human hair, old irons and kitchen utensils, instruments, replica dolls, replicas of Victorian life, a giant quilt depicting famous Oroville landmarks, and a fireplace with the word, "LOVE" built into it. If you're lucky, the guide might let you touch some of the items in the kitchen.
There are also a few structures outside, including a garage which houses Jess and Cornelia's 1922 Buick, and another house which houses Victorian era carriages. Unfortunately, the guide forgot to open them, so I didn't get to see them.
Sank Park, which surrounds the house, is also worth seeing, as it has a nice gazebo, and beautiful English garden. I will write a separate tip about it later.
I visited this house once before when I was little, but it was over 10 years ago, so I wanted to revisit. I stopped at this house after school on a Monday. Unlike the other museums I visited in Oroville, this one was punctual with time, and the guide/caretaker, was easy to communicate with. She was wonderful! 80 years old, and still kicking! She can get a little forgetful though, so don't hesitate to ask her to explain what something is. Again, I was fortunate enough to be the only one in the house, so I got a private tour, and the guide did stuff with me, that she's never done with other visitors.
It's difficult for me to explain the history of the house and the family, simply by writing what I read. This is one of the few places, where you have to take a tour, in order to fully understand the history.
If you want to experience this beautiful home yourself, it is open
Sun, Mon, and Fri
From 11:30 - 3:30
Closed Dec 15 through Jan 31
Entrance fee is $3
There is no official tour schedule, so just walk in and ask for one. Pictures are allowed without a flash.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Most people know about Lake Oroville, but we have some other lakes here too, which are equally as spectacular, and also worth a visit.
Thermalito Diversion Pool- This one is my favorite. Although it's technically a lake, it feels more like a small river. This is my favorite place in Oroville to go kayaking. The water is very calm, there are no motor boats allowed, and it's never crowded. The place is very quiet and relaxing, and absolutely beautiful. The place is really green, and full of trees, meadows, birds, rocks, and quiet coves. There is this beautiful cove with a beautiful green meadow (the cove in the main photo), that we always stop at. We always see tons of geese and ducks. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to even see a Bald Eagle, which like to best up in the telephone poles. This is definitely, the wildest of the three Thermalito lakes. It's very easy to forget you're so close to civilization. Absolutely an amazing place. The only thing about it that sucks, is that the water is too cold to swim, though I've done it before. When it's 100 degrees outside, it feels good.
The entire lake is only 4.5 miles long, but we only kayak 2.5, as that's as far as you can legally go, for safety reasons. DO NOT go past the buoys! The spillway lies beyond one set, and the Diversion Dam beyond the other. Two places you DO NOT want to end up.
To get to the lake, cross the Green Bridge on Table Mountain Blvd. Head past the Hauf Brau and Unemployment Office, and turn right on Cherokee Rd. Keep going until you see a small gravel road going downhill. This will take you to the lake. You should be able to see the train bridge and a set of buoys. Park anywhere you wish, but there is really only one spot where you can access the water. We usually kayak all the way to the red bridge, than turn back. If you wish, you can tie your kayak up, and hike a few yards up the stream to this nice waterfall, (after heavy rain only).
The journey the first way, requires a little more energy, and time, as you're paddling against the current. You can get an amazing view of South Table Mountain coming back.
There is also an abandoned train tunnel, some small lakes, and Sycamore Hill, on the south side of the lake, which you can dock your boat, and explore.
There is no entrance fee, and motorized boats are prohibited.
Thermalito Forebay- Because of its location, just off Highway 70, this is the most popular of the three Thermalito Lakes. Because the lake is part of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, you have to pay an $8 fee, for day use. Motorized boats are prohibited on the lake, which makes it ideal for kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and sail boating, which are available for rent. The main reason this lake is so popular, is because it has one of only few designated swimming beaches, in the area. The lake also has a large picnic area, which during the summer weekends, gets packed with local families, especially members of the city's Mexican community. BBQs, parties, and large gatherings are a common site.
Get here early, as parking and benches, can be difficult to find later in the day. If you want to avoid the crowds, get here early morning or late evening. During the off season, you can have the entire place to yourself.
The lake is about 2.5 miles long, but the majority of the crowd hangs out near the beach, so if you have a boat, you can head further out, and have the whole place to yourself. It's worth exploring the small coves and reed beds, as they are teeming with birds, turtles, beavers, small fish, and damselflies. I usually paddle a little ways past the road bridge, into the South Forebay, before turning around.
The lake also offers some spectacular views of Table Mountain, and the Sutter Buttes.
Those who prefer to stay out of the water, can hike the short trail, which runs around the small bay. We sometimes go up there in the summer to pick berries. Just watch out for rattlesnakes.
The lake is day use only, and overnight camping is prohibited, accept for occasional boy scout troops.
Thermalito Afterbay- This is the largest of the three Thermalito Lakes. Although interesting, this is my least favorite of the three Thermalito lakes. It is the least beautiful, and is the only one of the three lakes which allows motorized boats, and jet skis, which makes it really chaotic for kayakers. One thing I do love about the lake, is that unlike the other two, this one has several islands, a kayakers paradise. It's cool to kayak next to the reed beds.
The water here is warmer than in the other two lakes, but the shore is mostly muddy ground, reeds, algae, and covered in animal feces, which doesn't make it a pleasant place to swim, but there are a few areas you can find, which are cleaner.
Be warned, that this lake also has the strongest winds, which sometimes makes it impossible to kayak. We showed up once, and it was so windy, that there weren't even any swimmers or motor boaters, the place was completely deserted. So check the wind conditions, before setting out, so you don't end up wasting gas.
There is no entrance fee to visit the lake, or launch your boat. You can either take Highway 162, and park at the parking lot on the north side, which has a pier and swimming beach, though we usually park at the gravel parking lot, on the east end, past the airport.
Don't park your car too close to the water. The Oroville Dam pulls water from the Afterbay during the day, and returns it in the evening, causing the water level to fluctuate, so if you park too close to the lake, your car will end up in the water.
It's funny to watch confused tourists when the water level changes. Their reactions are priceless.
If you want to visit this lake for yourself, take Oro Dam Blvd., cross the Feather River, than head past the airport, either straight, or south on Larkin Rd., past Clay Pit, depending which part of the lake you want to visit.
Overnight camping is prohibited.
- Water Sports
The Lake Of Course
It's no surprise that the majority of visitors who come to Oroville, come for the lake.
This artificial reservoir was created in 1969, when a section of the Feather River was dammed. It is the second largest man made lake in California, after Lake Shasta. Most of the lake's water goes to the Sacramento and Central Valley, and to Los Angeles County, via the California Aqueduct. The water is pumped through the Oroville Dam.
Today, Lake Oroville is one of the most popular lakes in Northern California, and people come from all over the state and neighboring states, for camping, fishing, water sports, or simply to relax. Several Butte County and NorCal residents, own house boats, so if you hike to Kelly Point or Bidwell Bar, you will see hundreds of house boats lining the shore.
Because of its many arms, in some areas, the lake looks more like a river.
When the lake is full, is a is a beautiful place to swim, and boat, as there are a few small islands on the lake, the most famous of which is Foreman Island. The number and size of the islands, depends on the water level.
One of the lake's most famous and recognizable features, is the Bidwell Bridge, a small green bridge, which the locals call, a "Mini Golden Gate".
The lake contains over 100 miles of protected shoreline. The lake, along with some smaller neighboring lakes, lie almost entirely within the Lake Oroville State Recreation area, which contains miles of protected chaparral. which is filled with dozens of wildlife species, and miles and miles of hiking, bike, and horse trails. The lake is even popular with scuba divers.
There was a lot of controversy when the lake was formed, as it took away a lot of the local wildlife habitat, and caused problems for migrating salmon. And in December of 1964, water rose over the uncompleted dam, flooding the entire Sacramento Valley. The flood, was part of the Christmas Day Flood, an enormous flood that lasted for over a year, and covered Northern California, parts of Oregon and Nevada, and even reached as far as Idaho.
The recent drought has had a bit of an effect on tourism. Several house boats sit at the Bidwell bar parking lot, boaters are rarely seen, and campgrounds are practically deserted. The lake is virtually unswimmable, as the best swimming spots have been turned into mud and rocks. In some places, it's a 30 minute hike, just to get the water. The only plus to the drought is that it has caused several new islands to form on the lake, but aside from that, there is nothing good about it.
From the 12 years I've lived in Oroville, there have only been a few, where the lake has been completely full. The last time it was full, (pictures 2 and 3), was in 2013. This is the lowest it's ever been, at least since I've lived here.
It's an $8 fee if you want to access the lake by car, and an extra $5 if you want to launch a boat, but if you park your car on the street, or below the spillway, you can walk past the booth without paying. But there are also sections like Saddle Dam, and Foreman Creek, which have free access, but you cannot launch a boat at Saddle Dam.
- National/State Park
- Water Sports
Bidwell Bar may not be one of the most spectacular sites in Oroville, but it's still an interesting one, and an important one. Bidwell Bar is named after a small gold mining town, that was founded in 1848 by John Bidwell, when gold was discovered in the area. The entire town sank in 1968, when the Oroville Dam was constructed, and the entire area turned into a lake. The only thing that survived from the original town is a small wooden bridge, toll house, and the Mother Orange Tree.I heard that if you go scuba diving here, you can actually see the remains of the original city underwater. When the lake is full, the area is actually a small island. There is a trail that runs around the entire island, and there are some benches where you can sit down, and get a nice view of the lake, house boats, and the new Bidwell Bar Bridge. There is also a small amphitheater in the middle of the island, where shows are ranger talks take place. There is also a campground, near by. It costs $40 a night, though recently, it's been pretty deserted. I don't know if that has to do with he drought, or the unbelievably high price. We used to camp there back in the early 2000s, when we would vacation here, and it cost half the price.
If you come here during the off season, basically late fall through early spring, you can see some floating campsites sitting on the parking lot.
If you want to come here by car, you have to pay an $8 entrance fee, but if you park at the visitor center and take the trail through the woods, or park on Jack Hill Dr., and cut through this empty lot, you can get in for free.
Here are the main sites of Bidwell Bar:
Old Bidwell Bar Bridge- The bridge originally crossed the Feather River and is only one of several suspension bridges built in the area in the 1850s, that still remains. It remained open to vehicle traffic until 1954. It was replaced by the new Bidwell Bar Bridge in 1965.
Toll House- It's EXACTLY what it sounds like. A building used to collect tolls for the bridge.
The Mother Orange Tree- Oldest orange tree in the U.S. Originally brought over from Mazatlán, in 1856. The tree has been transplanted twice. Once in 1862 to avoid flooding of the Feather River, and a second time in 1964 during the construction of Oroville Dam. Today, there are 3 different sections of it, in 3 different location. The most famous section is at the State Park Headquarters. There is also a small section of it, at the visitor center in Kelly Ridge, and of course, there is a section of it here, at its original location.
The three sections are actually clones, of the original tree, which was destroyed by a fungus in 1998.
Ever May, Bidwell Bar hosts a small festival, as part of the week long Feather Fiesta Days. The mini festival includes food vendors, crafts workshops, fiddle bands, and childrens' plays. It's also the only time you can go inside the toll house, which is usually closed to visitors.
Me and my friends used to go swimming up here when the lake was full. Man, this was our favorite swimming spot. It's an absolutely beautiful area when it's full. Now it's just a bunch of mud and rocks. :(
- Historical Travel
At 770 ft. high, Oroville Dam is the highest dam in the U.S. In fact, Oroville Dam is taller than the Gateway Arch. Not only is it the country's highest dam, but it's also the country's largest earthfill dam. The dam was built between 1961 and 1968, to create an artificial lake, so water could be pumped to the rice fields of the Sacramento and Central Valley, and to Los Angeles County, via the California Aqueduct. Former U.S. President and California Governor, Ronald Regan, was here for the grand opening.
The dam is run by a power plant at the bottom. During the day, the dam sucks water up from the After Bay to power its turbines. In the evening, the water returns to the After Bay.
There was a lot of controversy when the dam was built, as it took away a lot of the local wildlife habitat, and caused problems for migrating salmon. And in December of 1964, water rose over the uncompleted dam, flooding the entire Sacramento Valley. The flood, was part of the Christmas Day Flood, an enormous flood that lasted for over a year, and covered Northern California, parts of Oregon and Nevada, and even reached as far as Idaho.
There is an abandoned parking lot above the dam, where they built a really nice overlook. They cut down a few trees, a put a nice gazebo, and some benches. There is also an old turbine, on display, that looks like a flying saucer, so you can see what it looks like in there. There is also some information, about how it works in there.
You used to be able to take a tour of the inside of the dam, and see how all the turbines work, but this hasn't been allowed since the 9/11 attacks. You also used to be able to drive your car, and park at the end of the dam, but this is no longer allowed either, so if you wanna spend some time on the dam, you have no choice but to park your car elsewhere, and walk. There are several trails that lead to the dam, from the visitor center.
I come here for a walk a few times a month, and occasionally ride my bike on here. The dam is a mile long, which makes for some great exercise. We usually make it across in 20 minutes.
The dam is a really popular walking and cycling spot with locals, especially in the evening hours, and on weekends, so if you wanna avoid the crowds, get here earlier in the day, and try to avoid coming here on a weekend. One of the reasons the dam is so popular in the evening hours, is because it offers the most stunning sunsets in all of Oroville, though it's really matter of luck. If you come on the right day, it's truly an incredible sight!
On a clear day, you can get a great view of the Sacramento Valley, the foothills, and three different mountain ranges.
It's also worth visiting the dam, when they're releasing water from the spillway. This rarely happens, but when it does, it goes on for several days, sometimes even weeks, and is quite a spectacular site.
There are also several hiking and biking trails, around the dam.
This is my favorite museum in Oroville. It's also one of the city's most famous attractions, and is an absolute MUST, on any visit to the city. The temple looks small from the outside, but once you get inside, it is quite large.
In the 1850s and 60s, during the California Gold Rush, around 10,000 Chinese immigrants came to Oroville, to work on the railroads. They wanted to practice their religion, but didn't have a place to worship, so in 1863, the Emperor and Empress of China, gave money for the construction of this temple, which was built by local Chinese laborers. The temple was not only used for worship, but also for meditations, and as a meeting place. Originally there was only one temple, the Main Temple or “The Temple of Many Deities" (Liet Sheng Kong), which was unique in that, it was able to serve many Eastern religions, although most of the temple's builders were members of the Chinese Popular Religion. Later, separate temples were added specifically for members of Buddhism and Confucianism.
A large flood in 1907, caused all the Chinese to leave, leaving the temple virtually unused. After a period under the stewardship of the Chan family, the temple was deeded to the City of Oroville in 1937, and in 1949, the temple was opened as a museum to visitors.
In 1960, bamboo, trees, and plants originating from China, along with a fish and lily pond, were installed in the temples courtyard.
In 1968, the Tapestry Hall was added, to display magnificent tapestries, and Chinese artifacts.
In 2008, the Fong Lee Company Building was built to display artifacts from the medicinal herb sales and gold purchasing shop of the Chan family. I stumbled into it by accident, and there is nothing interesting there, accept this golden box. It's just a replica of a shop, and they didn't have the artifacts when I was there. If I didn't just read about it online, I would never have even known what it was.
In addition to those exhibits, we also have the Display Hall, which displays dozens of Chinese artifacts, including dolls, weapons, instruments, vases, coin swords, and gold art.
One of my favorite exhibits, is the Cullie Room, which showcases beautiful Chinese and American era costumes.
The main attractions however, are the building's many temples, which include the Main Chapel, the Moon Temple, the Chan Room, and the Council Hall. To get to the Moon Temple, you have to climb up the stairs in the courtyard. Don't miss it, as it's a beautiful area.
There is also a small replica of a worker's hut, in the courtyard, but this was the least interesting thing. The courtyard is also nothing special.
The coolest thing about this temple is that, even though it's now a museum, it's still an active temple, used for worship by members of Oroville's modern Chinese community. I have no idea how many Chinese live in Oroville today, but it must be quite a bit, as they even offer brochures in Cantonese.
They also have souvenirs for sale, like little Bhuddas and other Chinese trinkets, but they are ridiculously overpriced!
Last time I was there was 2005, and you weren't allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but now there is a new owner, and it's allowed. Usually the owner takes you to the Main Chapel, and talks a bit, before letting you off on your own, but I told her I've been here before, so she just gave me a map, and send me on my own. Again, I had the whole museum to myself.
The temple is open everyday, accept on holidays, and from Dec 15-Jan 31.
The temple is open from Noon-4.
The entrance fee for the temple is $3, but if you don't want to pay, there is one chapel, and some artifacts you can see for free, without actually going inside the temple, but it's not as beautiful as the other chapels.
Although the temple is supposed to be open at noon, the owner has a knack of being late, which seems to be common occurrence with museum staff in Oroville. I got there 5 minutes before noon. I waited 'til 12:15, and the owner didn't show up, so I went to another museum, and came back and hour later. This isn't the first time, this has happened. I understand 5 minutes, but 15, 20, is just unacceptable, especially since the museum is only open for 4 hours. They need to learn how to be punctual.
In addition to the owner being unpunctual, she was also very strange. She greeted me when I entered, and I told her I want to see the temple. I put $5 on the table, and she just stared at it for 30 seconds, like I did something wrong, than gave me a weird look. Didn't say a word. Than she just left it there, and walked to the back, for no reason, than came back. She than asked me, "Is there only one of you, or someone else I'm not seeing?" Really? FINALLY, she gave me my change, than walked back again, to give me my ticket and a map. She started telling me the history of the temple, than stopped halfway through, and asked me if I had been here before. I told her, "Yes", so she said I can just go on my own. I than asked her where the costumes were, and she looked at me like I was speaking some other language. I than ran into her in one of the rooms. She asked me if I was looking for something specific, and I said, "No." She started walking toward this door, so I followed her thinking she wanted to show me something. She turned around, and gave me a look like I was some sort of retard.
She was more professional as I was leaving, and offered me some free brochures, and a fortune cookie, but the communication with her was just terrible. IDK if she was half asleep, or what. I had a similar experience with staff at the Pioneer Museum. At least this one didn't complain about me taking pictures.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
This is the largest museum in Oroville, both in terms of area, and number of artifacts, and it is by far the city's most interesting.
I only visited this museum once before, when I was really little, and it bored me, so I didn't remember a single thing about it, accept the picture that fell off the wall. This was my first visit in 12 years. Apparently some things have changed, as I do remember we took a tour when I was little, but this time they gave me a map, and said I can walk it myself. I was the only one in the museum, so I had the whole place to myself, which is always great!
The museum looks small from the outside, but it is quite large, and has two floors. There is a large room near the front desk with several exhibits, there are several exhibits in the hall way, and there is also a huge exhibit in the basement, so it's quite a bit to see. I toured the entire museum in 30 minutes, as I was in a bit of a rush. It would take at least 2 hours to examine each exhibit thoroughly, and read all the information.
This museum is exactly the type I like. No fancy audio or video guides, just good old fashioned, labels, as a museum should be.
The museum first opened in 1932, and was built as an oversized replica of a 49er's cabin. The museum displays hundreds of artifacts, illustrating the life of pioneers’, up until the late 1920s, not only from Butte County, but from all over California and the U.S. Although there are a few replicas, the majority of artifacts on display are original artifacts that were brought over, and used by pioneers. Although it's called the "Pioneer Museum", the museum not only features pioneer stuff, but also Native American artifacts, and even artifacts from other countries. Exhibits include, the California Gold Rush, which features a full scale replica of the world's largest gold nugget. German swords and guns. Civil war uniforms, instruments, weapons, and medals. Marching band equipment, which at first glance looks like a knight's helmet. Antique books and boy scout badges. Antique medical equipment. Antique fire fighter wagons. Antique dolls, including one that was owned by a member of the Donner Party. Antique saddles, blacks smith tools, wood with Chinese writing, and an antique printing press. Native American artifacts include, baskets, grinding stones, and arrowheads. There is also a small exhibit with information about Ishi, and his tribe, the Yahi, and a small exhibit showing how Indians lived. My favorite section of the museum was the hallway, which featured beautiful replicas of period rooms, a train ticket office, and a doctor's office.
Those are just some of the highlights. The museum has so much to see, that's its impossible to list everything in detail. It has a larger collection than some of the museums I've seen in other countries. Not bad for $3. If you're visiting Oroville, and want to learn about the area's history, come here. You won't find another collection like this in Butte County.
Although I really enjoyed this museum, the ladies at the front counter were a little strange. They didn't really great me properly, when I walked in, and didn't even tell me how much I have to pay. They assumed I already knew. I had to tell them myself, I am here to see the museum, and when I put the money on the table, they looked at me like I did something wrong. I had a similar experience at the Chinese Temple. I told them, "last time I as here, I took a tour", to make conversation, and they just looked at me weird, like they were annoyed that I was interrupting their conversation. And apparently, they were watching me on a security camera, because as I was looking at the final exhibits, I heard them complaining that I was taking too many pictures, so I stopped. Their exact words were, "Did we miss something? He's taking A LOT of pictures." But they never told me I couldn't, and there were no signs. I thought they were gonna make me delete them, but they didn't say anything.
The museum is open
Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Noon - 4pm
It is closed from
Dec 1-Jan 31
Entrance fee is $3
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Located across the street from the post office, the historic Ehmann Home was built in 1911 by German immigrant, Edwin Ehmann, in the Craftsman Bungalow style. His wife, Freda Ehmann, is known locally as, "The Olive Lady", because she came here in the early 1898, to expand her olive business, as the 20 acres she had in Oakland, was too small. She was the first person to experiment with pickling olives, and one of the few to experiment with curing and canning, as up until 1897, olives were produced only for oil, and those methods had not been too successful. Because of her pioneering techniques, she is considered the "mother" of the modern olive canning industry. After she proved that Oroville was a feasible place to grow and process olives, the Ehmanns built an olive processing plant here in 1904. My guide told me her legacy lives on, as her descendants still own a small olive plant in Oroville. Her orchard also still stands today, in its original location, just above the fish hatchery, overlooking the Green Bridge.
In 1925 the Ehmanns retired and moved back to the Bay Area. A year later, the house was purchased by the city and turned into office space, losing many of its original historical features. In the late 70s, the Ehmanns' historic home went into surplus, and was almost demolished, but in 1981, the house was acquired by the Butte County Historical Society, who restored it back to its historical state.
Today, the house serves both as a museum, and the headquarters for the Butte County Historical Society.
I've lived in Oroville for 12 years, and this was my first visit to this house. We've been wanting to visit for quite a while, but it was always closed. In fact, the only time you can visit the house is on Saturday, from 11-3, or during city festivals, like the Olive Festival in June, and Feather Fiesta Days in May. If you want to visit any other day, you have to arrange an appointment. Admission is free, though a donation is appreciated.
If you are there on Saturday, at 11, and it's closed, just be patient, as the caretaker might be a few minutes late, which seems to be common with Oroville museums.
I was fortunate enough to finally catch the house, on a day it was open.
This house isn't really popular, but I guess that's not such a bad thing, as it meant, I was the only tourist in the house, so the guide gave me special privileges, which is always great!
The house is run by Alberta Tracy, and a few other volunteers. She showed up with a young man, Daniel, a volunteer from the local high school, and he's the one who actually gave me a tour of the house. He knew the basics, but didn't give too much detail, and he rushed a little bit. And when I asked him a specific question, he couldn't really answer it, but he did know a lot about the local history, and some of the other historic buildings and projects going on in the area. Not bad, for a teenager.
My parents later went and took a tour with Alberta, and said it wasn't much different, accept she was able to answer more questions. Wish the guides would slow down a little, and give us some more time in the rooms. She did say I can re-walk the house by myself, but I chose not to.
The house itself wasn't too special. Most of the furniture and paint was not original, and when I was there, they were doing some remolding, so there were rolled up carpets, dirt on the floor, and some of the rooms have been turned into storage space. My guide opened an "antique cabinet", and it was filled with toilet paper, and toilet cleaner. And the "historic" bathroom, is now a bathroom for staff and visitors. Very strange, but okay. There is also a kitchen, as the house also hosts tea parties, by special appointment. It didn't really feel like a museum. It felt like a half museum, half storage, and half someone's house. I wish it was a bit more maintained, and museum like, and that some of the furniture was more era based. It's not the best historic home I've been to. It was still pretty cool though, because you could sit on, and touch some of the furniture, and walk down a flight of old stairs. Alberta even let me put on one of the hats, and take a picture.
But the best part of my visit, was by far the hospitality of the staff. Oh my gosh! I have been to a lot of museums, and have never treated as nice, as I was in this one. Alberta needed to throw away, and move a few carpets, and asked me if I would help. I had some time to kill, 'til the next museum opened, so I said, "sure." I helped her with what she needed, and than she invited me into the kitchen, for some rolls and coffee. We were later joined by some other volunteers, who were discussing other historic buildings and projects in Oroville.
I wanted to give a donation, but Alberta said since I helped out with some work, I don't have to. By far one of my favorite experiences anywhere. I always thought I have to travel hundreds of miles to have an experience like this, but guess not.
What a wonderful lady!
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Broken Color Art Gallery
This was a nice little find. This gallery has been around for quite a while. I'm not really into art, so I've walked by this gallery dozens of times, and never went inside, but I was waiting for the museums to open, and had nothing to do, so I decided to have a look.
The gallery is owned by local artist, Jon Shult, who teaches art at local schools. He seems a bit intimidating at first, but once you start talking to him, he's really nice guy, who knows a lot about art. He basically has the gallery in his house. He lives upstairs, and has his gallery on the bottom floor, and his studio upstairs, though he occasionally paints in his kitchen, which is also where he keeps his unfinished work.
Most of the art on display is his, though a few pieces belong to his students, as he also gives private lessons.
I had no idea what to expect, but his collection is pretty large, and his pieces are pretty nice. They include everything from abstract, to nude models, landscapes, historical buildings, etchings, and even a very artistic map of Chico. He told me he even does requests. This guy who likes signs, wanted to have a sign painted, and Jon painted one for him.
There is no fee to visit the gallery, but most of Jon's art is for sale, though the pieces are way out of my price range.
It felt kind of weird being in the guy's house, but you get used to it, and forget it after a while.
The gallery is open most of the time, so if you're interested in art, hop in, and have a look. Maybe buy something, or take lessons from him.
- Arts and Culture
Bolt's Tool Museum
Apparently, this is the world's largest documented collection of hand tools.
The museum is relatively new. It only opened a few years ago, but the owner, Carl “Bud” Bolt, has been collecting tools since 1957. It all began when he needed some old tools, to compare to his modern tools, which he believed to be more superior. He's been collecting antique tools, ever since.
Although he vowed to stop collecting when he reached 1,000 tools, his collection now contains over 8,400 pieces, displayed for all to see.
The owner dreams of having a collection that will be enjoyed and studied by tool aficionados, scholars, and students from around the world.
If you want to experience this collection for yourself
The museum is open
Monday - Saturday: 10:00am - 3:45pm
Sunday: 11:45am - 3:45pm
It costs $3 to enter the museum, but there is a small exhibit outside, which you can see for free.
I have no interest in tools, so I didn't actually go inside the museum. I just took some pictures through the door, so I could write this tip.
One great thing about this museum though, is that it's open an hour earlier, than all the other museums in town. So you might check it out if you're bored, and have some time to kill before the other museums open.
In four days in January, the owner offers special 2 hour hands on workshops to students, school kids, or anyone else interested in antique tools.
- Museum Visits
Lake Oroville Visitor Center
If you're interested in learning, about the area's history, and wildlife, you can pay a visit to the Lake Oroville Visitor Center.
They have a variety of exhibits, showcasing the area's history, and wildlife. Everything from, the local Indian tribes, to the Gold Rush, and the construction of the Oroville Dam. There is a train, where you can sit, and watch a video about the construction of the dam.
There are also a few natural history exhibits, the most unique being, the salmon incubator.
The main exhibit, is the large exhibit, showcasing, the area's wildlife, habitat, and Native American, lifestyle. There are figures of Native Americans, and a replica of a traditional Maidu teepee.
There is also a small display, of Maidu baskets.
The most interesting exhibit, is the Ishi wall. It is covered with pictures, and information about Ishi, and displays small artifacts from his tribe.
Another interesting item, is the steel windmill, used to harness water.
Along the path, to the visitor center, is a ceremonial grindstone, and at the parking lot, is a large stone, with Native American markings.
The museum is small, and the quantity of artifacts, is not very large, but it does a really good job showcasing the area's wildlife, and explaining its history. It's not worth a special drive, but it's worth popping in, if you are camping nearby, or hiking the trails. The museum is free.
There is also an observation tower, that you can climb, to get a view of the lake, and the surrounding area. On a clear day, you can see the Coast Range, and Sutter Buttes.
There are items available for sale in the front, and there is a small exhibit, where you can touch animal trophies.
There is also a theater, where you can watch a documentary upon request.
The visitor center occasionally hosts small children's festivals, and events, specifically around the holidays.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Feather River Nature Center (Bath House Museum)
Located in the old Bath House, the Feather River Nature Center, is probably, the most interesting museum, in Oroville. It is basically a natural history museum, history museum, geology museum, and archaeology museum, all in one. A lot of the rocks, and animal specimens are from other areas, and other countries, like Australia, and are all part of the owner's personal collection, but the Native American artifacts, are all local.
The museum is small, and a bit cluttered, but very interesting. It has a nice collection of rocks, animal trophies and skulls, old tools, a great collection of artifacts, from our local Maidu tribe, as well as old pictures and news paper clippings, explaining the entire history of the bath house.
Some of the museum's artifacts, are removed during the Salmon Festival, and used by the Maidu, during their Pow Wow shows.
The coolest thing about the museum, is that you can touch, and handle everything that isn't behind glass, so you can touch the animal trophies, rocks, and some of the artifacts. It’s fun to play the Native American drum. The museum is also free, which is another great thing.
I have been wanting to visit this museum for a long time, but it was always closed. The guy inside said it's open on Saturday, and sometimes on Sunday, from 12-4, but often, not even that. I don’t blame them, their staff is only a small group of volunteers.
The owner wasn't there, but I was told he gives great nature walks, and can tell you a lot of stories about his collection.
The two guys who were in charge that day, were really friendly. They also had a huge basket of rocks, and let each of us take one, on the way out.
I was expecting something simple, so I was really amazed by the number of artifacts, the museum displays. My two friends I was with, aren't really into museums, or this sort of stuff, and even THEY enjoyed it. I actually wanted to leave, and they wanted to stay longer, which is saying a lot. It really speaks to a larger crowd, because of its diversity. This is even better than the museum in Kelly Ridge. They're trophy collection is much smaller, but they have a larger, and nicer collection of other artifacts.
I would definitely recommend a visit to this museum, if you are fortunate to be there, when it‘s open. It’s a great place to learn about the area’s history. Allow yourself at least 30 minutes, if you want to explore the exhibits thoroughly.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Brad B. Freeman Bike Trail
If you love cycling, like I do, the Brad B. Freeman bike trail, is a must. The entire trail is a 40 mile long loop. It starts at the dam, circles the After Bay, than runs through the wildlife area to downtown, along the Diversion Pool, and ends back at the dam.
The trail is divided into two parts, and you can either take a short cut at the Diversion Pool, and do only a quarter of the trail, which is what we did, or continue along the canal to the Forebay and Afterbay, and do the whole trail. You can always turn back wherever you want.
It's hard to explain, so I will post a map of the whole trail.
Me and my friend only biked a section of the trail. We started on the north side of the Diversion Pool, then returned on the South Side. The total loop was about 14 miles. The first part of the trail was downhill, so it didn't take that long to get to town. We even stopped at a waterfall for 30 minutes, and it still took us only about an hour to get to town. The return trip was different though, the last 2 miles required biking up very steep road, probably the steepest part of the trail. To make it worst, I got a flat somewhere on the way back. I tried to ride my bike anyways, but it was impossible to ride it uphill, so I had no choice but to push my bike uphill for 2 miles. It was dark by the time we got back to the dam. I would definitely recommend packing a pump, and extra tires with you.
I don't know anyone personally who has biked the entire loop, so I don't know if it is possible in one day, but if you're up for it, you can camp for free at the parking lot of the wildlife area, during the weekdays, so if you run out of light, and don't wanna pay for a hotel, that would be your best option. 40 miles is a lot, and since I've never tried to bike the entire trail, I don't know if it's possible to do it in one day, but judging by how long it took us to bike to town and back, I don't think it is possible, unless you bike fast and don't stop.
You should know your own abilities, so a fit and experienced cyclist, might be able to do it in one day.
I would only recommend this ride in the cooler months. I have cycled other trails in the summer, and it is exhausting. I would not attempt this trail in the summer.
This trail is definitely a must, and I definitely want to bike the whole thing some day.
This trail will also offer you glimpses of some picturesque scenery.
A little warning, my dad got yelled at by a Water Resources lady on a section of the trail between the train bridge and Diversion Pool dam. She said he's not allowed to be over there, but the trail is clearly marked, so you have nothing to worry about. She was probably new, and didn't know. If the trail is marked, you aren't breaking any laws. I biked the same section with my friends, and a Water Resources agent saw us, and didn't say a word.
I would definitely recommend a helmet, as some of my friends have wrecked on sections of the trail, and one hit his head on a rock, and got knocked out for 15 minutes. Other friends have been scraped up pretty bad. If you see an area that looks unsafe, like a rock or sand pit, get off and walk your bike. Most wrecks have occurred in exactly those types of places.
And watch out for cows.
Kayak The Feather River
Oroville is known as the "Adventure Capital of California", and here, you can have an adventure, inside the city limits. If you're the adventurous type, you can run a kayak down the Feather River. You cannot rent a kayak on the river, accept during the Salmon Festival, when they offer special tours. There is a rental place at the Forebay, but I don't know if they'll let you load it on your car, and take it away, so it's best to bring your own.
I have kayaked the river a few times. We usually launch from under the bridge, below the fish hatchery, and kayak all the way to the bridge on Oro Dam Blvd., before turning back. This is a good place to turn around. If you keep going, the current becomes strong, and you will be pulled all the way to the wildlife area, so unless you have a car that can pick you up, I wouldn't recommend this.
The first time, I had my dad leave the car in Bedrock Park, since that's as far upriver, as you can go.
The second time, we left our car under the bridge, which was a huge mistake. We thought we could paddle against the current, but it was just too strong, We had to get out an drag our kayaks, through the freezing water, and slippery rocks.
So if you're planning to go beyond the Oro Dam Blvd, Bridge, arrange for someone to pick you up.
There is this cool a little ways past Table Mountain Bridge, where you can play around in some rapids.
This is also a good way to view the local wildlife.
Watch out for rapids, shallows, thorn bushes, and salmon. My dad got pulled by the current, straight into some thorn bushes, and I got pulled into a side channel, and had to carry my kayak to the main section of the river.
I would recommend going when the water level is higher, or you will get stuck on rocks and shallows. That happened to me the first time, and it takes all the fun out of going down the rapids.
I would not recommend a rubber kayak for this trip, unless it's strong.
- Adventure Travel
Feather River Fish Hatchery
Every August, September and November hundreds of salmon come to the Feather River to spawn. They can be seen at the Feather River Hatchery. The hatchery has a built in aquarium, which allows visitors to view this salmon underwater. They can also be viewed at the hatchery's holding tanks. You can also view them in their natural habitat, as they try to jump the barrier dam on the Feather River.
Fishing in this area is not allowed in this area in order to protect the spawning salmon. Some years, fishing on the Feather River isn't allowed at all because of low salmon population. Check with the Department of Fish and Game for current fishing regulations.
- Family Travel