The Feather River is rich in history and scenic beauty. Long
before the encroachment of Western civilization, the bank of
the Feather River below the bath house was the site of a Maidu
fishing village. The river provided a bountiful supply of giant
Chinook salmon and acorns were harvested from the groves of Blue
Oaks nestled along the river banks. Evidence of these early inhabitants
is still found along the water's edge below the bath house. The
basaltic boulders are fiddled with mortar holes which were used
by Native Americans to grind acorns.
Gold was discovered in the Feather River in 1849. A tent city
of fortune hunters sprung up virtually overnight. The gold soon
ran out and the miners left for richer strikes up river. The
tent city vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
The need for recreation increased as the Oroville area developed.
The salmon and the long sandy beaches made this portion of the
river an attractive fishing, swimming and picnicking area. This
area was established as a City park in 1926.
In the mid 1930's the WPA built the rock bath house. The bath
house provided showers and restroom facilities for the swimmers
This premiere recreation area was short lived. On December
10, 1937, a major flood took out the beach area, large trees
and altered the river, creating a dangerous undertow. The bath
house was abandoned. Although
no longer suitable for recreation, this area still held its scenic
Sunset Magazine featured this stretch of the Feather River on
its cover in
Eventually, the area became over grown with brush after years
of neglect and the bath house fell into ruins. The ruins, covered
with graffiti, frequently became home to transients.
In the fall of 1996, a group of community members gathered to
clear the old bath house site. In the clearing process, it was
decided to reclaim "Oroville's first city park" and
make it into a nature center. The Feather River Nature Center
Committee was soon formed.
This nonprofit organization received approval from the City of
Oroville to enter into a concessionaire relationship to run the
Nature Center, provide nature educationel programing and restore
the bath house and the surrounding grounds. Feather River Nature
Center is solely funded by public donations.
The Feather River Nature Center is
operated by Feather River Nature
Center Committee, a volunteer,