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Mansion of memories: the history of Bidwell Mansion (part six)

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The mansion landscape

Eventually Bidwell Mansion became surrounded by many ornamental trees, flower gardens, and fruits. Shrubs, trees, and plants were imported from around the world and brought to the site of the mansion; John began the cultivation of his land with these plants. Brianna commented that any vegetation you could ever think of could probably be found on the grounds surrounding the mansion.

Rancho Chico stretched eastward from the Sacramento River for fourteen miles, many of which were overflowing with California oak trees. The width of the ranch was approximately three and one-half miles.

John Bidwell was awarded a gold medal at the International Exposition in Paris in 1878 for the finest wheat in the world; clearly Bidwell’s early experimentations and love of agriculture were worth it. By 1888, the total amount of orchards under cultivation was seven thousand acres, fifteen hundred of which were full of adult trees. John’s ranch had the largest amount of fruit bearing trees on the entire Pacific Coast, and quite possibly the United States! The ranch had over four hundred varieties of fruit, including cherries, oranges, and apples. John’s Rancho Chico was widely known as an experimental farm, making it quite an attraction among California residents.

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