A Brief History

A Brief His­to­ry of Butte County

Indige­nous & His­pan­ic Roots

The ear­li­est known res­i­dents of Butte Coun­ty were the North­west­ern Maidu who migrat­ed and set­tled on the Moore­town Ridge between the Mid­dle Fork and South Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er around 1500 B.C. Today’s Con­cow-Maidu tribe are their descendants.

As peo­ple began jour­ney­ing west­ward in the late 1700s and ear­ly 1800s, count­less Span­ish, Mex­i­can, and ear­ly Amer­i­can explor­ers trav­eled to the area then owned by Mex­i­co and now cov­ered by Cal­i­for­nia. In the ear­ly 1840s, the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment grant­ed large tracts of land to a vari­ety of these set­tlers. In Butte Coun­ty, Llano Seco stands as one of the last remain­ing intact land grants from this period.

The Gold Rush in Butte County

With the dis­cov­ery of gold in Cal­i­for­nia in 1848, the Gold Rush ush­ered in thou­sands of peo­ple to the area and Butte Coun­ty, includ­ing even­tu­al city of Chico founder John Bid­well. Towns along the Feath­er Riv­er – includ­ing Oroville, Chero­kee, and Mag­a­lia – came into existence.

With the migra­tion of thou­sands dur­ing the Gold Rush, Cal­i­for­nia became a state in 1850, with Butte Coun­ty as one of the state’s 27 orig­i­nal counties.

Min­ing & Agriculture

With­in a decade, min­ing decreased as an eco­nom­ic engine in the area, with agri­cul­ture tak­ing its place. Wheat became Chico’s pri­ma­ry cash crop while cit­rus and olives were, and still are, grown in the Oroville area.

Butte Coun­ty Today

Today, you can explore Butte County’s Native Amer­i­can and gold rush his­to­ry through var­i­ous muse­ums and dis­plays found across the coun­try while enjoy­ing its cur­rent posi­tion as an impres­sive agri­cul­tur­al hub.