The Town of Paradise, incorporated in 1979 is nestled in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Located on a ridge with elevations ranging from 2,000 to 2800 feet above sea level, Paradise is twelve miles east of Chico and ninety miles north of Sacramento. With over 26,000 residents, the Town of Paradise is the second largest city in Butte County. Residents and visitors enjoy tall pines and majestic oaks, cooler summertime temperatures, occasional winter snowfalls, and an engaging environment. Rich in history, innate beauty, and friendly people, Paradise is a fantastic place to raise a family, build a business, or just relax for a weekend in the pines.
The first inhabitants of the Paradise Ridge were the Maidu Tribes who made the Ridge their summer and fall residence. Evidence suggests that Berry Creek and the area near where it crosses Pearson Road was a favorite Maidu camping ground. After gold was discovered in January 1848 on the American River, prospectors headed to the Paradise Ridge to try their chances. John Bidwell was at Sutter's Fort when the discovery was made and headed to what is now Butte County looking for gold in the Feather River along the way. He gathered other settlers along Chico Creek, hired some Indians and set out to prospect. He found wealth at what became Bidwell's Bar. Prospectors from the East searching for gold searched the streams in every canyon along the Feather River during 1849 and 1850, including Butte Creek and the West Branch of the Feather River.
A post office was established in Dogtown in 1857, serving the rapidly growing trading post. Lumber mills started operating in the 1850's and 60's and families began to settle in the area. It was around this time that Paradise was named. As a legend goes, William Leonard and his mill crew were returning with oxen and wagon from delivering a load of lumber to the valley on a scorching summer day. As they came into the shade of the ponderosa pines, Billy sat down on the needles under a tall pine tree and sighed to his crew "boys, this is paradise."
Railroad Service was established in 1904, and as the twentieth century unfolded, a new kind of settler came to the Ridge - men and women who wanted to build a society of educated agrarians. After the Paradise Irrigation District had begun to provide a regular water supply in all but the most severe drought years, the Paradise Farm Center was formed to keep up with all the most recent knowledge in agriculture. Growers of apples, prunes and pears on the Ridge utilized the railroad to speed their product to market. Today's Johnny Appleseed Days are a direct descendant of the Paradise Harvest Festival of 1889, held to celebrate fruit and winter vegetables.
Around 1966 it was decided the rapidly growing town of Paradise should incorporate. By that time the population had swelled to over 20,000 from 5,000 in just 15 years. After several votes, in 1979 a majority of residents decided Paradise should incorporate, but as a "town" not a city. And so the Town of Paradise was incorporated on November 27, 1979.
Historical information provided by "This Paradise We Call Home", by Lois H. McDonald