Bidwell Mansion Time Capsule

On the morning of November 4, 2014, a construction crew working for the City of Chico was attempting to relocate a historic marker at Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park when the time capsule was found in the foundation base.

Idscn3233n order to complete the City’s sidewalk improvement project, the City of Chico needed to move and relocate the monument by approximately 10 feet from its current location. It was determined that moving the marker the short distance would improve the area for pedestrian traffic and still maintain the integrity and the spirit of the monument.

During the relocation efforts, a small cavity was discovered in the foundation of the marker, with a copper box inside. State Parks officials were notified immediately and the capsule was taken to a safe location. Its origin is unknown, though the marker under which it was found was placed almost 90 years ago.

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On October 16, 1925, the marker was placed at what is now the corner of Sol-Wil-Le-No Avenue and Esplanade (in the south east corner of Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park), by the Pioneer Historic Association of California. It was set there to mark the Oregon Trail and the area of the old adobe built in 1852. The marker was erected to commemorate General and Mrs. Bidwell, pioneers and founders of the City of Chico.

“This was an unexpected surprise to the Park and our community,” said California State Parks Superintendent Aaron Wright. “Time capsules are usually put together with items to represent a snapshot in time, so we are looking forward to see what we find inside.”

November 29, 2014

capsule11                          capsule contents

California State Parks staff opened the time capsule to reveal its contents at 10:00 a.m. at the Mansion. The public was invited to attend.  Hundreds gathered in front of the Mansion.

State Parks employees chose not to peek before the public unveiling. A Dremel tool was used to cut through three sides of the lid, and the fourth side was removed while the public watched. When the lid was pulled back, people saw three rolls of fiber and paper. All three were damaged by age.

The box was promptly placed in a glass display case in the Bidwell Mansion Visitor Center.  Curators examined the contents in December. Probing of the fiber packing rolls indicated that there were no solid objects inside. A paper conservator will come to the Mansion in March and further examine the contents, then make recommendations for opening the fiber and paper rolls.