Oregon City (No. 807 California Historical Landmark)
California Historical Landmarks Program
Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:
1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region
2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California
3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.
California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks. The Chamber of Commerce then created a committee of prestigious historians, including DeWitt Hutchings and Lawrence Hill, to evaluate potential landmark sites.
In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.
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Emigrants from Oregon established Oregon City in 1848. This was one of Butte County’s first gold mining towns. The town experienced a short boom and a huge bust as Oregon City faded from popularity. Between 1894 and 1902, the town and its post office was called Hengy, named after a Jessie Hengy, the first postmaster. The city changed its name to Bloomingdale between 1902 and 1905.
The covered bridge located near Oregon City also took a new name; now referred to as the Castleberry Covered Bridge.
The captain of the Oregon emigrant party was Peter Burnett, a self-educated Midwesterner. He later became the first civil governor of California. Before coming to California, he held office in both the Oregon Legislature and Oregon Supreme Court. Burnett advocated for the exclusion of Black people. The state constitution did not allow African Americans to move into Oregon until 1926.
Burnett was California’s governor between December 1849 and January 1851. During his tenure, California held its first Constitutional Convention to submit documents for admittance to the Union. Official admission day took place on September 9, 1850.
He established the first departments needed to operate a state government and subdivided the state into 27 counties even before California was officially admitted as a state. Burnett also wanted to continue his practices of excluding African Americans and Chinese immigrants from settling in California. To discourage immigrants, he passed the Miners Tax Act of 1850 that imposed a fee of $20 to all miners who were foreign born. In a short time, the Legislature refused to work with him and his popularity declined. Burnett resigned out of frustration in January 1851.
The historical marker is located on Diggins Drive between the towns of Oroville and Cherokee.
Highlights of Butte County history include John Bidwell’s establishment of Rancho Chico and Bidwell Bar, and the discovery of Ishi, the last Yahi Indian, in which the Ishi Wilderness was named to honor. This county progressed swiftly from a collection of mining towns into a trendsetter for California agriculture.
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