Oroville is the county seat of Butte County and is a vibrant, charming and a city full of history. The city is known for its outdoor recreation and considered the gateway to its crown jewel recreation area, Lake Oroville. The city is located on the banks of the Feather River. During The Gold Rush thousands of prospectors flooded to “Bidwell Bar,” one of the area’s first successful mining sites in search for gold. In 1968, this same area were the North Fork and South Fork of the Feather Rivers merged was eventually flooded by water with the creation of the tallest earth filled dam ever built in the United States. This dam created Lake Oroville, the second largest reservoir in the State of California.
Originally named Ophir City but renamed to Oroville in 1854 with the opening of the first post office (“oro” is the Spanish name for gold, and ville is French for “town”). The city was incorporated in 1906.
Oroville offers a rich history and many historical landmarks. During The Gold Rush many Chinese relocated to the area and in 1863 the Chinese Temple was built to accommodate the largest Chinese colony north of Sacramento. This Temple and museum complex features ornate architecture and artifacts. The Oroville State Theatre is another iconic landmark, hosting a variety of live performances, concerts, and cultural events.
The olive canning industry was born in Oroville and by 1900 was the home of the world’s largest canned olive canning factory. Oroville is also home to The Mother Orange Tree, a Mediterranean Sweet Orange Tree, the oldest living orange tree in Northern California. It was originally brought as a rootstock from Mazatlán, Mexico and planted near Bidwell Bar 1856. The tree flourished and grew to a height of over 60ft and yielded around 600 pounds of oranges per year. This became a favorite attraction for miners. Olives and oranges are still farmed today, and these groves can be seen throughout the rolling foothills of the Oroville area.
Oroville’s most famous resident was Ishi (an adopted name, meaning “man”), the last of the Native American Yahi people. He has been widely described as the “last wild Indian” or the last “Stone Age Indian.” He lived isolated from modern North American culture until 1911, when at age 50, he emerged at a barn and corral outside of downtown Oroville. Ishi is known for being the last Indian to come out of the wilderness and into Western civilization.
Oroville also hosts a vibrant arts and cultural scene. The city’s downtown area is filled with charming shops, boutiques, and restaurants, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a delightful meal. For those seeking a bit of excitement, head to the Feather Falls Casino & Lodge or Gold Country Casino. These Las Vegas-style casino’s offers gaming, entertainment, and dining options for a memorable night out.
Throughout the year, Oroville hosts numerous events and festivals that bring the community together. These events include, The Salmon Festival, Wildflower & Nature Festival, Butte County Olive Festival, Arbor Day Festival, Snow Gosse Festival, The Feather Fiesta Days Parade, Gold Rush Car Show, and The Parade of Lights.
The Oroville area offers an abundance of outdoor activities from hiking to water skiing, to fishing and camping, to mountain biking and paddleboarding. During the spring, Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is a sight to see. Located just north of Oroville this area will drop your jaw with the spring wildflower bloom and seasonal waterfalls. This is truly a Butte County wonder to see.