Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park is another of the Parks scheduled to be closed at the end of the year.
It was built in 1868, about 15 years and 50 miles from the Ide Adobe which I wrote about in February. Close in time and place but worlds away in comfort and convenience.
Both of these historic sites are on the State Park closure list.
In 1841, John Bidwell was one of the first Americans to cross the Sierra and settle in the Sacramento Valley. He made his money as a miner and merchant but his true interest was in agriculture and public service. Along with his wife Annie, he championed women's suffrage. He donated land for the establishment of a normal school which today is California State University, Chico.
This was a thoroughly modern home for it's time. The heated air from an alcohol lamp below the fan rose, turning the fan in the days before electricity.
The house had running water and flush toilets.
The globes face up because these were originally gas lamps. The valves can be seen on the tubes that both support the lamps and supply the gas.
When electricity became available they were converted to that power source.
There was even a built-in oven. Everything was up to date in this home.
It was a large house for a couple with no children but they entertained the notable people of their time: President and
Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes, Civil War General
William Tecumseh Sherman and naturalist
John Muir were some of the guests in this gracious home.
It is unfortunate that the citizens of California are willing to see their parks close. These historic sites are a window into the past for those who assume there were always modern conveniences. The Ide Adobe and Bidwell Mansion together show both the evolution of modern life and the vast difference in life between the poor and the affluent, something that is not always obvious today when almost everyone seems to have an i-pod and a cell phone, even if they don't have a home to put them in.