Flume releasing water into Chico Creek where it entered Bidwell's flour mill on Bidwell Ranch ca. 1898 (MLSC)

Flumes of Chico's past brought timber down from logging areas in the surrounding hills and mountains. Flumes are structures that are often elevated and look like long narrow troughs. They used water to float timber down to Chico with the assistance of gravity.

The Butte Flume and Lumber Company built a flume from Chico Meadows down Big Chico Creek in 1872, completing it in 1874.

Flume Street was so named as it was the location where a the flume from the Five Mile Dam crossed Chico Creek to supply power to Bidwell's flour mill.

There are also flumes in Paradise that, while not in Chico, are a destination for locals and Chico State students alike. The hike can be perilous at times so sturdy shoes and a sure footing are recommended. They can be accessed from behind the lowest parking lot behind the Feather River Hospital off of Pentz Road, as well as a number of other locations. The canyon and river offer scenic vistas and refreshing swimming holes, but since the area is not an actual park, there are no rangers on patrol. Because of this it is important to exercise caution while both swimming and hiking. Also, some adventurous types will find pleasure in floating back to their original point via the flumes. Remember to clean up after yourself when visiting and leave the area cleaner than it was originally.

Hiking on the Flumes above the Feather River


Sierra Flume & Lumber Company Flume crossing a ravine at the mouth of Chico Canyon across the creek from the current golf course.


Sierra Lumber Company’s flume crossing Big Chico Creek c. 1905 (MLSC)

The flume for which Flume Street is named is visible in Birdseye View of Chico 1871.