Oroville, California

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Oroville, California
City of Oroville
Historic downtown oroville.jpg
Historic Downtown Oroville
Seal of Oroville, California.png
"City of Gold"
Butte County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Oroville Highlighted.svg
Location of Oroville in Butte County, California
Usa edcp relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Oroville, California
Location in the contiguous United States
Coordinates: 39°31′N121°33′W / 39.517°N 121.550°W / 39.517; -121.550
CountryUnited States
County Butte
Incorporated January 3, 1906 [1]
   City Council Mayor: David Pittman
Vice Mayor: Eric Smith
Tracey Johnstone
Karolyn Fairbanks

Shawn Webber
Krysi Riggs
Scott Thomson
   State Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D) [2]
   State Assembly James Gallagher (R) [3]
   U.S. Congress Doug LaMalfa (R) [4]
   City 13.85 sq mi (35.88 km2)
  Land13.83 sq mi (35.83 km2)
  Water0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)  0.14%
167 ft (51 m)
   City 20,042
  Density1,449.17/sq mi (559.36/km2)
48,000 (estimated)
Time zone UTC-8 (PST)
  Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
95940, 95965, 95966
Area code 530
FIPS code 06-54386
GNIS feature IDs 277570, 2411337
Website cityoforoville.org

Oroville (Oro, Spanish for "Gold" and Ville, French for "town") is the county seat of Butte County, California, United States. The population of the city was 15,506 at the 2010 census, up from 13,004 in the 2000 census. Following the 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed much of the town of Paradise, the population of Oroville increased as many people who lost their homes relocated to nearby Oroville. In 2020, the 2020 census recorded the population of Oroville at 20,042.


Oroville is considered the gateway to Lake Oroville and Feather River recreational areas. The Berry Creek Rancheria of Maidu Indians of California is headquartered in Oroville. [6]

Oroville is located adjacent to State Route 70, and is in close proximity to State Route 99, which connects Butte County with Interstate 5. The city of Chico is located about 23 miles (38 kilometers) northwest of the city, and the state capital of Sacramento lies around 70 miles (112 kilometers) to the south.[ citation needed ]

Oroville's nickname is the "City of Gold", which is essentially the Spanish name of the city in English. Oroville has also been declared a Tree City USA for 41 years by the National Arbor Day Foundation. [7]


Oroville is situated at the base of the foothills on the banks of the Feather River where it flows out of the Sierra Nevada onto the flat floor of the Sacramento Valley. It was established[ when? ] as the home base of navigation on the Feather River to supply gold miners during the California Gold Rush.[ citation needed ]

The town was originally named "Ophir City", but was later changed to Oroville when the first post office opened in 1854 (oro is the Spanish word for 'gold'). [8] The City of Oroville was incorporated on January 3, 1906.[ citation needed ]

Gold was found at Bidwell Bar, one of the first gold mining sites in California, bringing thousands of prospectors to the Oroville area seeking riches. Now inundated by the waters of enormous Lake Oroville, which was filled in 1968, Bidwell Bar is memorialized by the Bidwell Bar Bridge, an original remnant from the area and the first suspension bridge in California (California Historical Landmark #314). In the early 20th century, the Western Pacific Railroad completed construction of the all-weather Feather River Canyon route through the Sierra Nevada giving it the nickname of "The Feather River Route". Oroville station would serve as an important stop for the California Zephyr during its 20-year run. In 1983, this became a part of the Union Pacific Railroad as their Feather River Canyon Subdivision. A major highway, State Route 70, roughly parallels the railroad line winding through the canyon.[ citation needed ]

Oroville Chinese Temple. Orovill chinese temple 2.jpg
Oroville Chinese Temple.

The Chinese Temple (CHL No. 770 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is another monument to Oroville's storied past. Chinese laborers from the pioneer era established the Temple as a place of worship for followers of Chinese Popular Religion and the three major Chinese religions: Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. The Chinese Temple and Garden, as it is now called, has an extensive collection of artifacts and a serene garden to enjoy.[ citation needed ]

The olive-canning industry was founded in Oroville by Freda Ehmann, the "mother of ripe olives". She built[ when? ] a large cannery in Oroville, and by 1900 was the president of the world's largest canned olive factory. Ehmann was a believer in women's suffrage and a friend of Susan B. Anthony [9]

Ishi, Oroville's most famous resident, was the last of the Yahi people and is considered the last "Stone Age" Indian to come out of the wilderness and into Western civilization. When he appeared out of the hills in East Oroville in 1911, he was immediately thrust into the national spotlight. The Visitor's Center at Lake Oroville has a thorough exhibit and documentary film on Ishi and his life in society.[ citation needed ]

Archaeological finds place the northwestern border for the prehistoric Martis people in the Oroville area. [10]

1881 lynching

On August 7, 1881, pioneer Jack Crum was allegedly stomped to death by local bully Tom Noacks in Chico, California. The young Noacks was feared by the locals of Butte County, not only because of his size and strength, but allegedly because he was mentally unbalanced and enjoyed punching oxen in the head.

Noacks was arrested and jailed in the Chico jail. Once word got out that the old pioneer had been murdered, the authorities moved Noacks to the Butte County county jail in Oroville for his safety. Crum's friends, knowing that Noacks was in the county jail, made their way to Oroville with rope in hand. Knocking on the jail door, the men told the jailer that they had a prisoner from the town of Biggs, California. Once inside the jail, they overpowered the jailer and dragged Noacks from his cell. They took Noacks to Crum's former farm and hanged him from an old cottonwood tree. Nobody was ever prosecuted for the lynching. [11]

Hate groups

Hate groups began appearing in Oroville media stories beginning in 1976 with a neo-Nazi husband and wife couple killed in a shootout. In 1980, members of the American Nazi Party moved to Oroville from Tracy, California, to re-organize as Chico Area National Socialists. [12] [13] In September 1982, 17-year-old Joseph Hoover was murdered by his Nazi colleagues after he told police he helped spread anti-Black hate literature at Oroville High School. [14] One thousand people marched in Oroville in protest of Nazi and Ku Klux Klan activity on December 11, 1982. [15] Local Nazi leader Perry "Red" Wartham was convicted of Hoover's murder and sentenced to 27 years, and two more male high school–age Nazi recruits were convicted as accessories to murder. [14] [16] In 2016, an Oroville man was found spreading Nazi hate messages in Sacramento. [17] In January 2004, a white power publication was distributed in the Kelly Ridge area south of Oroville. [12]

Oroville Dam crisis

On February 7, 2017, after heavy rains, a defect formed in a spillway of Oroville Dam. For the first time since its construction, the secondary spillway was overtopped on February 11. Shortly after being put into service, this structure began to show signs of being undermined, raising fears of catastrophic failure. Owing to their inability to predict the continued safety of this spillway, the Butte County Sheriff ordered evacuations of downstream residents from Butte, Sutter, and Yuba counties.[ citation needed ]

Camp Fire

In November 2018, Oroville was threatened by the Camp Fire.[ citation needed ]


In November 2021, citing alleged federal and state overreach during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oroville city council passed a resolution declaring the city as its own "Constitutional Republic" and refused to enforce federal orders that it said violated its citizens' rights. [18]

The resolution to declare the town a constitutional republic was an attempt to limit state and federal restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in California. One rural law expert stated that the designation was unclear and would not operate to shield the city from following state and federal laws. [19]


Table Mountain near Oroville. South Table Mountain Butte County.jpg
Table Mountain near Oroville.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.3 square miles (31.9 km2), of which 12.2 square miles (31.6 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2) of it (0.16%) is water.[ citation needed ]

Oroville is situated at the head of navigation on the Feather River. The Yuba River flows into the Feather River near Marysville, California and these flow together to the Sacramento River. Geologically, Oroville is situated at the meeting place of three provinces: the Central Valley alluvial plain to the west, the crystalline Sierra Nevada to the SE and the volcanic Cascade Mountains to the north. It has a Mediterranean climate.[ citation needed ]

Oroville sits on the eastern rim of the Great Valley, defined today by the floodplains of the Sacramento River and its tributaries. Around Oroville these sediments are dominated by thick fans of Feather River sediments, but just east of this there is a thin, N–S band of late Cretaceous sediments. These sit on top of the Sierran basement, which beneath eastern Oroville comprise greenschist-facies metavolcanic rocks of Jurassic age, giving way to granites of the Sierra batholith to the east. These are manifestations of a vigorous island arc sequence, built out over an east-dipping subduction zone of mid-to-late Mesozoic age. The gold veins lace this ancient arc, remobilized by Mesozoic shearing and intrusions of igneous rock. The crystalline foothills are locally overlain by a Cenozoic sequence of Eocene clean beach sands overlain by Neogene volcanics, including the Diamond Head-like profile of "Table Mountain".[ citation needed ]


According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Oroville has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csa" on climate maps. [20]

According to US climate data, on the average Oroville receives 30.7 inches (780 mm) of precipitation per year, which is about 20% less than the national average, but somewhat higher than the average California rainfall total. [21] [22]

Climate data for Oroville, California (Oroville Municipal Airport), 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1998–present
Record high °F (°C)83
Mean maximum °F (°C)67.5
Average high °F (°C)55.2
Daily mean °F (°C)47.4
Average low °F (°C)39.7
Mean minimum °F (°C)30.1
Record low °F (°C)22
Average precipitation inches (mm)5.20
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)12.210.410.
Source 1: NOAA [23]
Source 2: National Weather Service (mean maxima/minima 20062020) [24]


Historical population
1860 2,429
1870 1,425−41.3%
1880 1,74322.3%
1890 1,7872.5%
1910 3,859
1920 3,340−13.4%
1930 3,69810.7%
1940 4,42119.6%
1950 5,38721.9%
1960 6,11513.5%
1970 7,53623.2%
1980 8,68315.2%
1990 11,96037.7%
2000 13,0048.7%
2010 15,54619.5%
2019 (est.)20,737 [25] 33.4%
U.S. Decennial Census [26]


The 2010 United States Census [27] The racial makeup was 11,686 (75.2%) White, 453 (2.9%) African American, 573 (3.7%) Native American, 1,238 (8.0%) Asian, 56 (0.4%) Pacific Islander, 554 (3.6%) from other races, and 986 (6.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,945 persons (12.5%).[ citation needed ]

The Census reported that 14,662 people (94.3% of the population) lived in households, 72 (0.5%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 812 (5.2%) were institutionalized.[ citation needed ]

There were 5,646 households, out of which 2,126 (37.7%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,893 (33.5%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,174 (20.8%) had a female householder with no husband present, 430 (7.6%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 615 (10.9%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 33 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 1,699 households (30.1%) were made up of individuals, and 718 (12.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60. There were 3,497 families (61.9% of all households); the average family size was 3.22.[ citation needed ]

The population was spread out, with 4,267 people (27.4%) under the age of 18, 1,969 people (12.7%) aged 18 to 24, 3,940 people (25.3%) aged 25 to 44, 3,417 people (22.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,953 people (12.6%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.[ citation needed ]

There were 6,194 housing units at an average density of 476.0 per square mile (183.8/km2), of which 5,646 were occupied, of which 2,423 (42.9%) were owner-occupied, and 3,223 (57.1%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.6%; the rental vacancy rate was 8.4%. 6,293 people (40.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 8,369 people (53.8%) lived in rental housing units.[ citation needed ]


As of the census [28] of 2000, there were 13,004 people, 4,881 households, and 2,948 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,061.4 inhabitants per square mile (409.8/km2). There were 5,419 housing units at an average density of 442.3 per square mile (170.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 77.2% White, 4.0% Black or African American, 3.9% Native American, 6.3% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 2.8% from other races, and 5.4% from two or more races. 8.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[ citation needed ]

There were 4,881 households, out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 18.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.6% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.19.[ citation needed ]

In the city, the population was spread out, with 30.1% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.[ citation needed ]

The median income for a household in the city was $21,911, and the median income for a family was $27,666. Males had a median income of $28,587 versus $21,916 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,345. About 16.2% of families and 23.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.3% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.[ citation needed ]

Oroville is home to a considerable number of ethnic Hmong. The Hmong migrated from Southeast Asia, especially from the country Laos, after the Vietnam War. The Hmong were allies of the American forces during the Vietnam War, many were recruited to help fight the Communist-aligned North Vietnamese forces in Laos and Vietnam. The Hmong people were given blanket political asylum after the fall of Saigon to the NVA in 1975. Every year there is an annual festival during autumn which was originally a harvest festival but now called the New Year celebration. [29] In 2010, 773 people of Hmong descent lived in the city of Oroville, 726 in South Oroville, 640 in Thermalito, and 140 in Oroville East. [30] In 2010, the Oroville/Chico Hmong community was the 9th largest in the Western US. [31]

In the 1950s, a community of Romanians migrated from Europe, with 560 remaining at the time of the 2010 census.[ citation needed ]

Native Americans made up 3.7% of Oroville's population in 2010. [32] The largest tribal group is the local Maidu. The Berry Creek Rancheria of Maidu Indians of California is headquartered in Oroville, with 306 members. [33] The world's largest museum of Maidu culture is located in Oroville East, at the Lookout Museum.[ citation needed ]


The economy of Oroville is largely driven by tourism to Lake Oroville and the Feather River recreation areas. The largest industries in Oroville as of 2017 are: Healthcare and Social Assistance (20%), Retail Trade (11%), and Accommodation and Food Service (10%). [34]

As the neighboring city of Chico experiences growth in retail, education, and technology industries, Oroville has experienced population growth associated with commuters attracted to lower property costs, and a smaller cost of living. [35] Recently, Oroville has seen an increase in economic development. Oroville Hospital announced in 2018 a hospital expansion, and in 2019 received $200 million in bonds for a five-story hospital tower expected to be competed in 2022. [36] Notable retailers who have expanded to Oroville in the past few years include: Ross Dress For Less, Marshalls, Starbucks, and Chipotle Mexican Grill.[ citation needed ]

Top employers

According to the city's 2020–2021 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, the top employers in the city are: [37]

#Employer# of Employees
1 County of Butte 2,320
2Oroville Medical Complex1,650
3Pacific Coast Producers992
4 Walmart Stores, Inc. 289
5 Graphic Packaging International 205
5 Walmart Stores, Inc. 234
6Ammunition Accessories158
7 Sierra Pacific Industries 128
8 Home Depot USA 126
9City of Oroville111
10Roplast Industries, Inc93
11Currier Square Spe LLC67


Photograph of Lake Oroville in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Oroville.jpg
Photograph of Lake Oroville in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The Oroville Municipal Airport is located south of State Route 162 west of State Route 70.

Parks and recreation

Oroville has several parks featuring playgrounds, picnic tables and benches. [39]

Parks and trails


  • Riverbend Park
  • Bedrock Park
  • The C.F. Lott Home in Sank Park – A Victorian revival home built in 1856 by "Judge" Lott. Sank Park, a lush shaded garden with a gazebo, encompasses an entire city block that Judge Lott bought in 1855 for $200 [40]
  • Hammon Park
  • Hewitt Park
  • Rotary Park
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Park
  • Playtown USA Park
  • Gary Nolan Baseball Complex (Mitchell Field)
  • Nelson Sports Complex
  • Centennial Park



The Oroville Union High School District includes all of the greater Oroville area, including many neighborhoods that are not within the city limits of Oroville. The District includes two traditional high schools, Las Plumas High School and Oroville High School, and Prospect High School, which functions as a continuation/remedial high school. The city also has an adult school, Oroville Adult School.[ citation needed ]

Several small, rural school districts are in the surrounding areas.[ citation needed ]

Oroville City Elementary School District

Elementary schools

  • Oakdale Heights Elementary
  • Ophir Elementary
  • Stanford Avenue Elementary
  • Wyandotte Avenue Elementary
  • STREAM Charter School
  • Helen Wilcox Elementary School
  • Golden Hills Elementary
  • Stockton Elementary

Middle schools

  • Central Middle School
  • Ishi Hills Middle School
  • Palermo Middle School
  • Nelson Ave Middle School

Oroville Union High School District

High schools

Higher education


Oroville is home to KOYO-LP, a low-power community radio station owned and operated by the Bird Street Arbor Day Media Project. The station was built by numerous volunteers from Oroville and around the region in April 2002 at the second Prometheus Radio Project barnraising. KOYO-LP broadcasts music, news, and public affairs to listeners at 107.1FM.



Oroville Hospital is a general acute care hospital and offers basic emergency care located in the City of Oroville.

Fire department

The Oroville Fire Department is responsible for calls within the city jurisdiction of approximately 13 square miles (34 km2) with a population of 16,260 (as of 2015). [41]

Superfund sites

Oroville has three designated superfund cleanup sites, two of which have been cleaned up and delisted: a Koppers Co. wood treatment plant, a Louisiana Pacific sawmill, and the Western Pacific railyard.

The Koppers Co. plant was listed on September 21, 1984, for pentachlorophenol (PCP), dioxin, furan, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), and heavy metals (copper, chromium, and arsenic) contamination due to chemicals spilled on unpaved areas. [42] [43]

The Louisiana-Pacific sawmill was listed on June 10, 1986, for pentachlorophenol PCP, dioxin, furan, heavy metals (arsenic, boron, and copper), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination. Following remediation, the site was delisted on November 21, 1996. The sawmill was shut down in 2001. [44] [45]

The Western Pacific Railroad yard was listed on August 30, 1990, for volatile organic compound (VOC) and heavy metals (arsenic, lead, and chromium) contamination. Following remediation, the site was delisted on August 29, 2001. [46] [47]

Notable people

In the early 1970s, the movie The Klansman was filmed in Oroville. [51]

Sister cities

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The Feather Headwaters is the watershed of the Feather River above Lake Oroville, totaling 3,450 sq mi (8,900 km2). Subdivided into 3 watersheds, the North Fork Feather Watershed is 1,090 sq mi (2,800 km2)—including the West Branch drainage of about 282.5 sq mi (732 km2), the East Branch North Fork Feather Watershed is 1,010 sq mi (2,600 km2), and the Middle Fork Feather Watershed is 1,350 sq mi (3,500 km2)—including the South Fork drainage of about 132 sq mi (340 km2). Headwaters drainage is impaired by the Palermo Canal at Oroville Dam, the Hendricks Canal at the West Branch Feather River, and the Miners Ranch Canal at the South Fork's Ponderosa Reservoir. Additionally, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company releases Upper Feather water into the Hyatt Generating-Pumping Plant for hydroelectric generation during daily peak demand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Poe Dam</span> Dam in California, United States

Poe Dam is a concrete gravity diversion dam on the North Fork Feather River, about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Lake Oroville in Butte County, California in the United States. Completed in 1959, the dam is the lowermost component of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Feather River Canyon Power Project, a system of 10 hydroelectric stations along the North Fork. The dam is 60 ft (18 m) high and 440 ft (130 m) long, with water flows controlled by four 50 ft × 41 ft radial gates.


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