In no particular order, the following is a list of Chico Urban Legends. If you can confirm, deny, or otherwise support with documentation any of the following, then leave a comment and let us know the facts. Have fun!


  • Chico is home to the national GBBA (Gay Black Bikers of America), who hold their national Black Gay convention each year at Riley's bar.
  • One month after becoming operational, the Titan I missile base north of Chico had one of its missiles destroyed by an explosion when a buildup of oxygen sparked. This event was overshadowed in the national news by the launch of Scott Carpenter into space. (See Missile silos)
  • In 1976, student protesters occupied the Kendall Hall administration building, upset that the University Police had been armed after students had been led to believe they would not be. The protesters remained in the building for about a week before vacating it. The University Police remain armed to this day. However, Officer Mike Storm accidentally shot himself in the leg within weeks of the protest. (see Gun Strike)
  • The famous astronomer Carolyn S. Shoemaker is a Chico State alumna and as such is a "Wildcat," as everyone knows. One of the asteroids that Carolyn has discovered was named "Wildcat" (it's solar system object 17493). Unfortunately for Chico, Carolyn is also an alumna of the University of Arizona, where she did her graduate work. The asteroid is named after the Arizona Wildcats.
  • For a time, Tracy Chapman lived in Chico.
  • The world's largest Valley Oak, the Sir Joseph Hooker Oak Tree, is no longer. It was discovered that the Hooker Oak Tree was actually two separate trees growing together. However, Chico still has one of the largest walnut trees in California, near the end of the runway of the Ranchaero Airport on Santa Clara Avenue.
  • As a result of superstition, there are no addresses on North Cedar, Warner, Hobart, or Citrus starting with "1300." All the addresses skip from 1200's to 1400's at West Fourth Avenue. 13th street, a discontinuous street, also seems planned so as to avoid having many addresses on it.
  • In Chico, "almond" is pronounced "Aă-mun." When the farmers harvest the nuts from the tree, they use a shaker that grabs the trunk of the tree and shakes the "L" out of it.
  • Chico has the third largest lesbian population in the State of California.
  • Prior to the completion of the Chico Library, Chico was the largest city in the Western Hemisphere without a public library.
  • Elvis ate at Jack's Family Restaurant (when it was Denny's).
  • There are two echo chambers in Chico. One is on top of the Roth Planetarium, and the other is at the Tri Counties Bank at Fifth and Salem.
  • Kelsey Grammer partied it up as the grand marshal of the Pioneer Day Parade.
  • The original claim for the land encompassing Chico was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.
  • Allegedly a Chupacabra lives near Big Chico Creek, and is known to students as the "Chico Chupacabra".
  • The stone walls in the areas surrounding Chico were built by Portuguese and Italian laborers. An alternate legends about the origins of the walls say they were built by Chinese laborers, and when they were supposed to be paid for their work they were rounded up and shot.
  • The ruts from wagon wheels of over a century ago can still be seen in the Old Humboldt Road.
  • The Madison Bear Garden was at one time the Prohibitionist Party headquarters.
  • West First Street, which was called Highway 32 at the time, was closed as a result of a demonstration on the first Earth Day in 1970.
  • The university address is "First and Normal," but the university is neither.
  • The Constitution of the Chico State Associated Students is the result of a political doublecross perpetrated by the university on the students. University president Robin Wilson threatened the AS with taking over the student owned businesses if they did not pass constitutional reforms that diluted the student power to govern the organization. The student government passed the reforms, and the university attempted to take over the businesses anyway. The conflict was ended by state legislation forbidding the university from taking over the businesses.
  • Chico used to have a public "Solar Clock" at Fourth and Main. However, the regular 'AA' battery was always clearly visible in the back side of it.
  • There is a four-leaf clover patch somewhere near the Teichert Ponds.
  • In the nineties, the DARE officer got busted for possession of pot.
  • Normal Avenue used to be "Sycamore". West Lindo used to be "Winding Way." Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd used to be Whitman Avenue, East First Street used to be "Sierra Street." Oakdale Street used to be "South Main Street". Bidwell Avenue used to be "Creek Road". West First Street used to be "Front Street".
  • For some reason, several streets named after Native American nations were misspelled: Sequoyah, Shoshonee, Algonkin . . . and Zuni, if we are strict about the tilde.
  • The Esplanade used to be the "Shasta Way," and the curved stretch of it leading into downtown still is.
  • When Nixon received word about the breaking of the "Checker's" issue, he was at the pay phone at the Amtrak station in Chico.
  • Ronald Reagan stayed at the Matador Motel room #9 (the rooms have since been renumbered). Ronald Reagan also made his famous comment "You've seen one tree you've seen them all" while at the Matador in Oct 1966. His daughter Patti supposedly attended Chico State.
  • The reason why the Bidwell Oaks, a home for the retired, was built next to a loud bar, The Graduate, is so that the neighborhood would be more likely to qualify for federal grants.
  • Jujitsu was first introduced to America in Chico.
  • The wheelchair, and high-heel accessible strip of flat surface down the middle of downtown crosswalks is called a "Studebaker strip" in honor of Jonathan Studebaker, local resident, planning commissioner, and motivational speaker.
  • The Trinity Hall bell tower has no bells, but rather plays a recording.
  • The Latin name for Chico is "Chiciense."
  • Chico has more clear days than any other metropolitan area in the nation.
    As of 2010, Chico does NOT show in the top 13 'most-sunny' places.  However, Redding posts at #3, Fresno takes #7 and Sacramento takes spot #10 on the list:
  • The Adams House on Esplanade is symmetrical because its original owner got divorced and wanted to still live with his ex-wife. One side was for his ex-wife, and the other for him.
  • The World’s Strongest Toilet Paper Holder was designed and invented in Chico 1983. Able to support a D-8 Caterpillar, VandalStop fixtures are a worldwide success and choice of US Navy Aircraft Carriers & New York City. The inventor was a worker in Bidwell Park.
  • Bradley Nowell (Sublime lead singer) is rumored to have bought the heroin he OD'd on while the band played in Chico (May 23rd) on tour shortly before his death (25th).
  • Chico is the largest city west of the Mississippi not served by a four lane highway.


Debunked Legends & Confirmed Truths

Confirmed Truths

  • The Thunderbird Theatre Company of San Francisco, founded in 1998, was named after the iconic Thunderbird Lodge motel sign on Main street downtown. All of the founding members of the theatre group had known each other from having lived in, and performed theatre in Chico.
  • Chico is the subject of the book Who's running this town? by Ritchie Lowry, although not mentioned by name.
  • Ted Knight once wore a Chico State sweatshirt on Too Close for Comfort. (confirmed, I just saw the episode where he is trying to avoid getting the chicken pox from his baby.)
  • An episode of Becker features Ted Danson's character frustrated about these calls on his phone bill to Chico, which he thinks doesn't exist. The episode was written by Chico State graduate Russ Woody.
  • Alex Mahone's ex-wife relocates to an address on "Victorian Park Lane" (a fictional variation from Victorian Park Drive) in Chico in the last episode of Prison Break.
  • The north-south streets intersecting the numbered streets are generally named after trees. However, the street that used to be in between Fir, and Bartlett before Highway 99 was built was Clover Street. A small section of it exists today at the end of East Tenth Street and Humboldt Avenue.1
  • When the Olympic torch came to Chico in 1996, arriving at the Amtrak Station, there were thousands of revelers along the torch path cheering the event. When the torch came through Chico again in 2004, there was no planned stop. The train carrying the torch sped through town with only the motorists at the rail crossings as its witnesses.2
  • National Geographic said of Chico, "It's not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there." 3
  • Herb Caen called Chico the city where you get Velveeta in the gourmet cheese section. 4
  • The American version of the rice cake was invented in Chico, and the first rice cake factory, Chico San, was just outside of Gridley. Chico San was in Chico before Gridley it use to be on Humbolt Street.
  • Connie on King of the Hill declares in one episode that she wants to go to Chico State.
  • Bob Dole fell off of a stage in Chico during his campaign for President in 1996. "I think I just earned my third purple heart going over the rail," Dole said. "You can always say I've fallen for Chico."
  • Jessica 'Flica Flame' Smith of Survivor Cook Islands, although born in Palo Cedro and raised in Redding, listed herself as from Chico in her Survivor Bio.
  • Chico was designated to be the provisional capital of California in the event that a disaster occurred that caused Sacramento to be evacuated. 5(See Operation Chico)

Supported by some facts, but not confirmed


  • There was a hoax phenomenon of falling rocks reported in Chico in the early 20th Century. 8
  • "Superbad" Jonah Hill partied in Chico sometime between December 2007 and January 2008 and was reported to be intending to attend CSUC.
  • Susan Olsen, who played Cindy Brady on TV, attended Chico State in the early 80's. Supposedly she was in the Pi Phi sorority.9
  • The flumes built a century ago along the Centerville Road are still there, and in parts of that area, one can see where the water appears to flow uphill. However, the water moving uphill in a flume crossing a downward trending road is an optical illusion.
  • As a result of superstition, there is no 13th Avenue, although Sequoyah would seem to otherwise qualify. Debunked, as Sequoyah could not be 13th Avenue, since it runs between 11th and 12th. The last Ave is 12th and after that, they're all cul de sacs until East Avenue (except the super curvy Lindo Avenue). Still, maybe they really do end at 12th due to superstition?
  • The "Retro" McDonald's on Palmetto and Mangrove used to be between Egg Roll Express and where it is located now. The previous McDonald's and a service station on the corner were destroyed to build the new McDonald's. Legend says it was the third McDonald's ever.  Debunked.  McDonald's Restaurant Number 3 is located in Downey, Ca (Source:, although Chico's Palmetto and Mangrove McDonald's Restaurant has nearly identical architecture to the actual McDonald's Restaurant Number 3.

*On the episode of American Dad "Stan of Arabia", The daughter Haley goes to lunch with a boy who says he went to Arizona State and they came in as the second top party school to CHICO STATE


2008-01-07 19:16:09   This list is great and hilarious! I look forward to seeing what others think of these legends. I know at least some of them are true... —StaceyEllis

2008-01-28 22:33:14   Some?! The only one I think isn't true is the four leaf clover patch! —GregBardGregBard

- You're probably right about the four leaf clover patch, but I can debunk one more. There is no way Sequoyah could be 13th Avenue, since it runs between 11th and 12th. The last Ave is 12th and after that, they're all cul de sacs until East Ave (except the super curvy Lindo Ave). Otherwise it's a great list and I could confirm at least a few of them for certain. We'll save that for another day... —StaceyEllis

2008-03-07 22:34:09   Hmm, is it The Village Timbers or Timber Creek Apartments? I have it labeled as the latter on Apartments. It sure has had a storied history with management changes and attempts at shedding off its past. I don't think it'll work since I've yet to hear students refer to it by anything but The Zoo. —RyanMikulovsky

You are correct. Village Timbers is the former Transpacific Gardens I. —GregBard

2008-05-11 00:26:19   is the lesbian one really true??? —

- I don't know, but it captures the imagination. — GB

2008-05-11 18:41:16   Sublime played one of their last shows in the downtown park. Nirvana played here to a crowd of about 25 people in 1991, just prior to their international fame, there are pictures of the show at the KCSC radio station. —

Correction, Sublime played at a bar called Juanita's it was located at or near where "The naked lounge" is today 2008-05-20 21:24:14   The Kelsey Grammer story is fact, not legend. I was at that parade. Although it was all over the news that he had a drug problem and had gone through rehab, he did party it up while here, and was arrested within a few weeks of the event for possession of cocaine. I believe it was 1990 or 91. —ideagirl

2008-05-20 21:29:45   Susan Olsen worked at the McDonald's on Palmetto when I was in jr. high in the mid-70s. The Brady Bunch was still on regular re-runs, and it was big talk at school if you actually were served by her. —ideagirl

2008-08-12 18:30:27   Five of the "tree streets" spell CHICO (Chestnut, Hazel, Ivy, Cherry, Orange)...There were a few other movies that I know of in the 90's filmed mostly in and around Chico: Disney's "Under Wraps" about a mummy, ABC's "Stolen Innocence", and ABC's "Ruby Ridge" with Dennis Quaid. Universal Studios wanted to make all or part of the old North Valley Plaza mall into a permanent sub-studio, but for some reason it fell through. —

- I seem to remember something about the old mall being used for something related to making the Ruby Ridge film. I think my friend went there to try to see Dennis Quaid and get an autograph or something, but it was a while ago and the details have since been lost in my mind. You might be interested in the Movies Filmed in Chico page, since it turns out Chico has been quite a popular place for filmmakers. —StaceyEllis Ruby Ridge was filmed in a soundstage built in the old mall. Parts where also filmed at chico state and the old police station and several other areas around chico and butte county. I ran security for it.- Ed Phillips.

2008-08-12 18:36:06   I'm not certain about the one on the library. There was an old city library downtown for decades and a county library accross from Chico Jr. High. The two were consolidated in the early 80's into a new library on First Avenue. the city library became a museum, and the other one a Veteran's Administration office. —

2008-08-12 18:59:25   I remember a local legend about an alleged ghost in Stilson Canyon east of town. —

-I'm sure that one's true. :facepalm: -

2008-09-11 09:18:12   the movies robin hood and under-wraps were also filmed here in chico —

2008-09-11 09:19:55   chico is also where the lead singer of sublime scored the bag of heroine that killed him —

-I believe the concert was in Chico but he got the drugs from Paradise.

2008-09-17 15:06:44   Just watched an old series like the twilight step beyond.... a british knock-off... that talks about the mysterious rocks.....made me look it up....thats how i arrived on this page...very interesting facts...thanks! angie b. —

-actually there is a twilight zone episode about it too!

2008-10-14 11:27:08   Not sure if this debunks the Susan Olsen or not but: "Now, I have always been MOSTLY blond, but I have never had a lisp, or boing-boing piggy tails. I couldn't imagine what could have made anyone think I resembled Susan Olsen. Or why she'd be living in South Hall at Chico State, wearing fatigues and pretending to study in public. Apparently the rumor du jour involved Susan Olsen, of "The Brady Bunch" fame, enrolling in Chico State. Slow news day." —

2008-10-14 12:37:33   In reference to the movie filmed in part at the North Valley Plaza (I think you're right — "Ruby Ridge" if memory serves me): Mervyns had just built their new building on the far end, and the old Mervyns was standing empty (where Tinseltown now stands). The movie production crew turned the old Mervyns into a sound stage, I guess; no one I know was ever allowed inside. I was a store owner at the mall at the time. The only actor I ever saw from the production was the guy who played Rizzo on M.A.S.H. — G.W. Bailey. —

2008-10-14 12:39:04   Oops — that last comment was not made by G.W. Bailey (who was the actor I was referencing) but by me, Laurie LaGrone. — Laurie —

2009-03-02 12:21:12   So is it an urban legend that there aren't Chinese tunnels or is the whole Chinese tunnel thing debunked? Curiosity's got me asking. Thanks. -John —

- I haven't heard anything about the tunnels. My bet is that they don't exist or there's a partial truth associated with the installation of a sewer system. Beats me. Can anyone elucidate this legend? —RyanMikulovsky

- Hmmmm... I think the way it's currently written is that it's been debunked rather than the legend saying there are not Chinese tunnels. I've always heard the urban legend stated that there are tunnels under downtown built by Chinese people. I've also heard it's not true, although I don't have anything to cite to debunk it. If I'm correct, it would be best to either remove the "not" from the legend, or move it to the "debunked" section with some sort of evidence. Greg, you posted the legend, could you please clarify when you get the chance? —StaceyEllis

::The truth is that there are NO Chinese tunnels in Chico. There was a legend about such a tunnel under the buildings on the west side of Broadway and First. However there is only an adjoined basement. No Chinese ever owned any buildings on that block. The "tunnel" legend is just a legend. At some point Tim Bousquet debunked it in the Examiner.-GB

::: 2015-03-09 The truth is, there WERE Chinese tunnels in Chico, but the area you are describing is wrong. The tunnels were around 8th street and were used to move from house to house and were also used for opium smuggling. There are still rumors of tunnels running more downtown, as I have seen cemented up doorways and windows in basements of some buildings. However there is a group od locals who are now working together to try and gain access to some of these buildings by working with the owners and documenting through video and writings of what we find. I just spoke with a lady today that mentioned there was a tunnel leading from the old Chinese Temple that ran into a tunnel system, but it was cemented up in the early 60's due to dangerous conditions. I'm currently trying to find that site. I'll update here once we have additional information. - Brian Teal

2009-04-17 10:33:28   Hey Love this site! One correction: the reference to me and the episode of Becker—the one about Ted Danson tracking down a phone call to Chico—was actually written by Matt Weiner. But I threw in the Chico reference (since sitcoms are often written by many people). I was delighted that it was recognized in Chico. In fact, several weeks after it aired, a couple of young guys from Chico came to the show and, after the filming, leaned over the railing and called out to Ted that they were from Chico. Ted, of course, had nothing to do with the writing and, in fact, usually forgot everything about the episode the week after it was shot... so I stepped over and said hi to them. (Point of fact—bring up any Cheers episode with Ted, no idea.) Anyway, thanks for the mention. Russ Woody —

2009-05-01 20:11:18   I can confirm the one about the DARE officer getting arrested for marijuanna. His name was Ray Beka, no joke, and the is probably still an article in the RE about it. He was my DARE officer so my friends and I enjoyed the irony. also I remember when Bob dole "fell" for chico. —

2009-08-15 22:44:17   It wasn't Jonah Hill who came to party in Chico, it was McLovin, and he was here to check out the vibe as he was considering attending Chico State. A friend of mine partied with him, and took pics with him that night. He had a shitty night because all the house parties he went to there were piss drunk people who wouldn't leave him alone and were freaking out because he's McLovin!!! hahaha —

2009-09-05 08:02:31   To all of you guys talking about Ruby Ridge: It wasn't Dennis Quaid in the movie, it was his brother Randy. —

2009-09-29 18:55:28   There ARE tunnels in Chico. There's a 60 year old man who lives next to me (I'm a Chico State student) and he says a house he owned (OAk st) had one that came up down on 3rd street, and another opening somewhere else downtown. -Alex —

2010-01-08 08:43:34   There's a published version of the rocks raining in Chico in a book when I was a kid. Here's an online version with some names and Newspaper references for further investigation: "In November 1921, rocks began to fall from the sky over the town of Chico, California. J.W. Charge, the owner of a grain warehouse along the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks, complained to City Marshal J.A. Peck that someone was throwing rocks at his building everyday. Peck, believing it was nothing more than local youngsters playing pranks on the man, paid little attention to the report. His conclusions, after a very brief investigation, were that he had seen the stones fall but could not explain them. He suspected that “someone with a machine was to blame.” The stones remained a nuisance to Charge but were largely ignored by everyone else until a few months later, on March 8, 1922. On that day, stones ranging in size from peas to baseballs came raining down on the warehouse, seemingly from nowhere. They continued to fall for days and a search by police officers of the area failed to find anyone throwing the rocks.

In the days that followed, Charge’s warehouse sustained quite a bit of damage, from broken windows to split boards and collapsed roof shingles. Stones also began to rain down on a cluster of houses that were located near the railroad tracks and individuals who stood in the open, perhaps trying to determine the source of the mysterious projectiles, were often struck. The investigators and officials present often became targets too. Fire Chief C.E. Tovee and Traffic Officer J.J. Corbett were narrowly missed by a large boulder that came from nowhere and struck a wall behind the spot where they had been standing just moments before. The force of the stone’s impact left a large dent in the wood.

The fall of stones continued throughout most of the rest of the month, attracting a large amount of publicity and a number of curiosity-seekers. The origin of the stones was never solved but a Professor C.K. Studley added to reports by saying that some of the rocks were so large that they “could not be thrown by ordinary means”. He also noted that they did not seem to be of meteoric nature. The famous chronicler of anomalies Charles Fort asked a friend, writer Miriam Allen deFord, to go to Chico to investigate personally. Throughout March a series of articles appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and the rocks were described as being warm and “oval-shaped”. Miriam Allen de Ford, wrote: “I looked up in the cloudless sky and suddenly saw a rock falling straight down, as if becoming visible when it came near enough. This rock struck the earth with a thud and bounced off on the track beside the warehouse, and I could not find it.” She also stated that at one point a rock fell from the sky to “land gently at my feet.” —

2010-01-08 08:44:44   sorry the quote is from —

2010-02-21 12:50:48   I have had some conversations with a few different "old timers" here in Chico,that lead me to believe that there are Chinese tunnels under Chico.A friend and I were drinking with one such fellow who lived on Hickory at the dead end.I had to leave him there for an hour or so, and when I came to pick him up he told me the old guy had taken him into the "Chinese tunnel" under his house. he described it as a small cavern,with shelves carved into the walls with a four foot or so tall tunnel that ran in a north-easternly direction towards downtown. He told me that it looked old and worn like it had been there for a long time.I have also been told about an entrance to these tunnels that is in Chapmantown. As far as the rock walls...I have understood that they were built by Chinese laborers and when they were supposed to be paid for their work they were rounded up and shot. —seanstevens

- Thanks for the story about the tunnel, Sean! I find these kinds of stories fascinating! I always hear so many "a friend of a friend" stories (which I guess is the epitome of urban legendry), but I have yet to personally meet anyone who can say they have actually seen these supposed tunnels. If only someone had a camera with them, we could settle this one. And yeah, with regard to the walls, I grew up hearing they were built by Chinese laborers - although I've never heard the part about being shot! It's another one that I've never heard confirmation from a reputable source about, though. —StaceyEllis

2010-03-06 20:14:05   The drug bust of 1996 is true. Check the Orion records. I was good friends with one of the guys who was expelled. Considered it confirmed. —

2010-03-10 05:54:12   i was told by one of the sorority girls that i know that the bottom of their house on 4th and chestnut has tunnels under it because it was a speakeasy during prohibition, and that they used to run the "booze" through these tunnels to not get busted by law enforcment. could people maybe be getting these confused for this? —


2010-07-27 03:57:24   Herb caen is true see reference at deb cady —

2010-10-18 07:04:08   There were Chinese tunnels under Chico from E 7th Street down to Flume ending at Colliers. The Chinese were not allowed to be see above ground and the tunnels were for clean clothes to be delivered through out downtown Ease of Main St. There are some remnants still visible under Colliers and other older stores that used the service. Also it was for the opium to be used in dens below and housed holistic Doctors. This was common practice for that culture. —ChicoNative

2010-10-18 07:16:06   The World's Strongest Toilet Paper Holder was designed and invented by a worker in Bidwell Park, Chico in 1983. Grown into a worldwide business VandalStop fixtures are the unit of choice for the US Navy Aircraft Carrier's, City of New York Cal-Trans and many many more happy customers. 4 units can support a D-7 Caterpillar or a 52,000,00 lb harvester. Not one unit has been replaced to date as a result of design or structural failure! —ChicoNative

2010-11-26 17:12:30   The Ronald Reagan story is false. His exact quote was "I think, too, that we've got to recognize that where the preservation of a natural resource like the redwoods is concerned, that there is a common sense limit. I mean, if you've looked at a hundred thousand acres or so of trees — you know, a tree is a tree, how many more do you need to look at?" He said this to the Western Wood Products Association in San Francisco. Also, Patti Davis would have been 14 years old in 1966, which would be a little young to attend Chico State.

2010-12-27 15:28:53   concise and very interesting, K. taylor, Paradise, CA —

2011-01-10 10:55:20   Dolores Moran was a movie star in the 40's and was from Chico. I worked with her Mother, Gertrude (I think) at Bell Telephone. Dolores was in The Horn Blows at Midnight with Bob Hope. Very pretty in a blond show girl way. She was in a handful of musicals. —

2011-01-10 10:58:07   Janis Joplin came to Chico in the late 60's and was booed off the stage. It made me ashamed of my hometown. Pat D. —

2011-02-10 03:08:59   I'm pretty sure the tree at the end of Santa Clara is a Walnut, not an oak. Also, it's so old there is a wagon wheel embedded in the base of it's trunk —

2011-02-12 14:52:29   The famous Hooker Oak Tree was real. It fell down when I was young, and I forgot about it until I saw your post. It was actually two trees that grew together, and it was extremely beautiful. I miss it! —

2011-04-05 03:48:09   Janis Joplin was before my time, but I remember when Journey got booed off the stage! On the other hand Pablo Cruise rocked the place! I saw Jefferson Airplane/Starship play when Grace Slick first reunited with them. I believe this was the same show where Krocus played and they were spitting on the audience! (Thank goodness I didn't have a very good spot that year!) The Tubes played at what is now the Crazy Horse Saloon, as did Charlie Daniels, and “Emerson Lake and Palmer”, I can’t confirm or deny appearances by Cheap Trick, and Blue Oyster Cult (under the guise of soft white underbelly) I know that The Outlaws (Green Grass and Highways) were supposed to play at “The Palms/ Cabos / Blue Something or other/ or whatever it was at the time, but only one other couple showed up, and we were told they cancelled the Sacramento show too. Sublime, Floater, Greg Kihn, Quiet Riot, Suicidal Tendancies, Mudvayne, Drowning pool, Sebastian Bach (singer from Skid Row), Y&T, Los Lobos, Phil Collins, The deftones, Rick Springfield, Rob Zombie, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and many many other famous bands have played here. One of the weirdest things I saw was Steppenwolf playing in Orland at the Glenn County Fair! —

2011-04-05 04:31:12   In response to: •The American version of the rice cake was invented in Chico, and the first rice cake factory, Chico San, was just outside of Gridley. The first part of that statement is true, but the first Rice Cake Factory was in Chico (Chapmantown) on Humboldt Ave. across from where Chico Scrap metal contaminated the soil so severely that they were forced to move, ironically, there is a Park on that site now. Chico San soon outgrew the spot on Humboldt, and then moved to the Northern border of Gridley. On a side-note many maps actually show Chapmantown as an actual town and not just a local nickname for Chico's Ghetto. (An unincorporated area completely surrounded by the city of Chico.) Many people live in Chico all their lives and have never seen Chapmantown! [Unless they made a wrong turn] In fact I have a Rand McNally US Atlas that has Chapmantown listed in the "Populations of Various US Cities" section. As of 1982 Chapmantown had a population of 1972 people. A famous landmark, Chinca's Market, (approximately 800 sq. ft.) had a sign on the wall that said "Chapmantown Mall, If we don't have it you don't need it!" They had everything from Mad Dog 20/20 to dirty little boxes of Kellogg’s cereal, and later started selling paraphernalia; you could even buy ammunition there! On the wall outside was a list of rules. 1 No Dope Deals on Lot. 2 No drinking Alcohol on the Premises. 3 No Restroom privileges in the phone booth. 4 No loud Rap music. The other six were just your standard, no loitering, littering, swearing, etc. There was A LOT of cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, Quaaludes, and even amphetamines in Chapmantown, if one so desired. In 1985, BINTF (Butte Inter Agency Narcotics Task Force) conducted a sting operation where agents occupied a mobile home on the edge of Chapmantown, and sold drugs to unsuspecting users. All in all they netted over 35 people in one night on charges ranging from "attempted possession, possession, possession with intent to sell, several weapons and parole violations, and my favorite, was the two boys, who'd given their money to a friend to buy drugs, and when he didn't show they knocked on the door and wanted their money back! In addition to the normal charges they were also charged with conspiracy, and their bail was twice that of the other defendants.


2011-04-05 04:48:42   The book "The Pleasures of Cocaine" was written by Chiconians, and sold at Tower Records and other book stores. It had all the normal facts but also had a lot of information on how to find the drug and several chapters on "Etiquette". There was a similar book on Marijuana etiquette! (Until I'd read that, I didn't realize that it was rude to make hissing or whistling noises while hitting a joint, and that you always pass it to your left! —

2011-04-05 05:49:53   The Ruby Ridge Movie was actually called "Every knee shall bow" or something to that effect, and some of it was shot at the Thunderbird lodge, and out by Richville. Speaking of Richville, does anyone remember the little strip club called Pinkies? It would get raided every once in a while because they weren't supposed to sell alcohol at a strip club! Also the Pioneer Day Riots were quite severe. The channel 24 news van got pushed into a bonfire. There was no way to get into Chico from the South West. (Williams, Colusa, San Francisco, etc.) During Rush week a student died by drinking too much water and being forced to do exercises, several others were extremely ill. Cedar Grove (in Bidwell Park), was featured in a magazine article about good places for homosexuals to hang out. When Playboy ran the article about Chico State there were, by police estimates, over 5000 people in and around the "Washout" and I personally counted 200 kegs of beer! Police were spraying mace on anyone who didn't disperse, and firemen were instructed to hose down any large unruly mobs. In the wake of all the bad publicity and the irresponsible behavior, Chico began running ads on TV telling people not to come to Chico for Halloween, St. Patty’s day etc. —

2011-04-14 14:33:54   I don't remember Janis Joplin coming to Chico, but I remember Big Brother and the Holding Company (Janis's back band) did play an open air concert during Pioneer Week, 1968 I think it was. After Janis had died. I was there. Maybe some remember Alexander Haig speaking at CSUC in the late '60's... he remarked that he regretted "not being able to turn NATO loose and see what they could really do", asked about any regrets he may have had with his career in the Army. —

Janis Joplin did indeed appear with Big Brother and the Holding Company at the highlighted concert during Pioneer Week in 1968.  I was there and have a very vivid recollection of the event but I don't remember her being booed off the stage.  She was wearing silk orange and yellow clothing and pointy-toed, yellow silk, bejeweled mules and she blew everyone away.

2011-04-28 21:46:00   I heard that Mangrove is paved over Chinese graves, that in one area of the Chico Cemetery White people were buried above Black Slaves and that many graves are unmarked as headstones were found in a ditch behind the cemetery. Also I've heard about a possible tunnel going from a sorority house to a fraternity house across from it on Fifth near Ivy. Oh there are pentagrams all around the bottom of the Madison Bear Garden on grates, and it's supposed to be haunted though I've never had any paranormal experiences there, and I worked there. —

"2011-05-08 17:49:56   Theres Chinese underground tunnels in Oroville. I'm not sure if theres any in Chico, but i'm positive theres underground tunnels in Oroville.

2011-05-15 21:21:46   the one about the almond without the l is true though not everyone pronounces it that way, mainly people involved in agriculture are going to know that


2011-06-28 00:03:57   It is true about Bob Dole. I was the morning director at Channel 24 at the time. My friend was our news videographer. He shot the now-famous tape of Dole taking the dive. —

2011-07-02 09:06:54   All I know is that Chico rocks, and that is a fact. —

"2011-07-08 10:46 WOW! All these comments about the "Chinese Tunnels" from so many people who know someone who knows someone. Well, I am 71 years old and grew up in Chico and my parents came here in the 20's,so,perhaps I can add something of interest. There are old caves and tunnels built by the Chinese and used as opium dens. The "Shelves" that are carved into the sides if these caves are actually places where people could lie down and enjoy the "opium." I have personally been in some of these caves and tunnels and since I grew up on Flume Street (right across the street from the old china town) I used to play in these tunnels as a kid. The old china town (located between Flume Street and Orient Street) was a burned out wreck for several years and access to these tunnels was easily gained through the basements of these old burned out chinese businesses. There are also old opium dens located in Stilson Canyon and I have been in those many times as a kid. There was also an old tunnel that was found while remodeling one of the banksI think it was around 2nd and Broadway,some years ago. Anyway, anyone who live here is the 30's and 40's could easily verify that there are old tunnels and caves used by the Chinese and are all over the place. Hope this helps,

Chico is the subject of the book Who's running this town? by Ritchie Lowry, although not mentioned by name.

Mark Johnsen

2011-09-06 18:06:49   Someone tell Herb that you won't be panhandled by a bum while eating in a resturant in Chico, , as happened to me in FRISCO!!! —

2011-09-10 02:24:50   When Bob Dole was campaigning in Chico , heart throb Rob Lowe appeared to support him. Rob was one of the Brat Pack. Tracy McDonald. Amanda Detmer was in a couple of Hollywood films. She acted in a great plat at Duffy's with Roger Montalnabo. She was in my creative writing class. —

2011-09-10 14:02:24   NEW URBAN LEGEND: It was after visiting Chico Cheese and Chacuterie that Herb Caen made the comment that Velveeta cheese was sold at gourmet shops in Chico. The establishment would never lower it's standards to sell such putrid cheese. So I believe the urban legend of Caen's statement is true. However, the statement is not based on fact. Go CHEEKO! —

2011-09-26 18:18:54   I had Ray Beka as my DARE officer too! (Ms. Classy's 6th Grade, Parkview Elmentary). That dude was so intense!! Thankfully, he was replaced by Mike Maloney, who is now the Chief of Police. Mike was way more chill! (Brian Y.) —

2011-10-18 15:23:58   In the movie "Magic Town" you can also see Jimmy Stewart walking down the steps of Downtown Chico Post Office. —TomHall

2011-10-18 15:26:16   Jackson Pollock, the artist, lived in Chico at one time. —TomHall

2011-10-18 15:31:10   The movie "The Chase" staring Marlon Brando and Robert Redford was filmed in and around Chico. There is a scene with Redford lurking around the Chico Rail Station. —TomHall

2011-10-27 21:41:52   "Chico is the subject of the book Who's running this town? by Ritchie Lowry, although not mentioned by name." This is true. It is based on MA thesis for a degree in Sociology. I read the book when I arrived in Chico in 1969. It was the hot topic at the university because it discussed the "town vs. gown" conflict that was more common at the time —MarkH

2011-11-06 13:31:49   The original Chico library was built in 1904; the original building is now used as the Chico Museum. —

2012-01-11 22:39:00   The one about Bob Dole is true. I remember getting a big kick out of it.


2012-01-19 13:54:31   I just asked Susan Olsen if she attended Chico State and she said she's never even been to Chico. Though I did see Barry Williams there in the mid-90s. —

2012-01-28 20:27:27   The apartments on Fith street were not called the "Zoo" because it was the location of the Circus. If that was the case it woulod have been called "the Circus". It was called the Zoo because during the first year the apartments existed there was always sometime strange going on. I konw because I lived there that year and we were the ones that started calling it the zoo.


2012-02-16 01:10:58   1.) I probably hold the record for playing basketball in the Chico State gyms starting from circa 1979 until 1994 (I worked at Chico state). Played virtually all times, even at 3AM in the morning. 2.) I bought Kelsey Grammer a Harbor Light drink and met him at the Oaks when he was here...and yes...he did 'party it up.' 3.) I personally knew Johnathan Studebaker, and spent many a long hours with him. Some of the stories he related to me—were simply stupendous. I cannot even go into them all as they were that salacious. 4.) I've been in the bell tower in Trinity Hall. I've been virtually everywhere at Chico state, including all the underground access points (as I had to run computer/fiber optic cable throughout the university. 5.) I was at the ZOO when the guy got branded. That was a fun night. (Amazingly, at 4AM the place was a war zone, with dumpsters overturned, massive fires, and broken glass on every inch of the property. By 9AM, it was all cleaned up—and you couldn't tell there was every a mass rave there at all). 6.) Been there done that: Bear, Graduate, Oasis & etc., during their hay-day's. Once again, cannot go into it—as such stories are too salacious). 7.) Pioneer week: Pizano's; plethora of Fraternity Row parties, etc., etc., etc.. What a sad testimony that we no longer enjoy those Bacchus times. :( 8.) We partied with the Madison Bear people—and took them up to Red Bluff roundup. They happen to take about 10 Kegs with them in our motorhome. Hit every dirtbag bar going up—then parked the motorhome right at the front gate. Partied there until Roundup was over—and as millions of people going out the front gate, Bear guys figured it might be good to give free beer to the outgoing crowds. Massive seizure of humanity stuck at our motorhome at the front gate—no human being could escape from the Roundup for hours. What fun! (Many MIA that night). What a hangover. :p JR —

2012-02-16 17:22:04   Janis Joplin's sister currently lives in Chico. —

2012-02-25 17:57:46   The clock on fourth may very well have been solar powered. Solar powered electronic devices use the sun to charge energy storage devices (batteries) after which the energy is used to power the device. This is why solar devices continue to work at night and don't slow down on cloudy days. —

2012-03-03 23:21:14   more clear days than any metropolitan area in the country? I guess Pheonix, So Cal, Tucson, El Paso, etc. etc. were not counted....I love Chico, but its a rainy place! —

2012-05-05 18:56:11   I was walking by the old Mervyns building one of the days they were filming scenes from "Ruby Ridge" inside. I asked one of the guys who was bringing some equipment in and out which scene they were filming and he told me they had a whole court room set up in there and that was the scenes they were filming, the court room scenes. — filmed alot of seens in there. They had interior mock ups of the cabin and other places and the courtroom too. It was also filmed above Concow at a replica cabin they built and the old police station in the holding cells. And in paradise at Kozy Diner, may have had another name then. I ran security for it. - Ed Phillips

2012-06-09 19:45:48   "however, a bag of marijauna, a pipe, a lighter, matches, and a book on the subject of growing marijuana were all included in the capsule." What, no Pale Ale for the dry mouth?


-Pale Ale had not been invented at the time of the time capsule sealing.

2012-06-09 21:40:12   I heard it also rained fish at one point, in chicos history... —

2012-06-15 15:22:23   I want to clear upthe fact about my Aunt Carolyn Shoemaker. She and my grandma are both alumna of Chico State, she attended for almost six years where she received her Masters, BA, and teaching credentials. So that fact about the comet being named after Arizonas Wildcat is wrong, she's from Chico and proud of it! —

I think she should propose to name one "Chico" just to be sure. (It's "alumnae" btw). —GregBard

2012-08-17 13:18:10   Nixon's "Checkers" speech was made during the 1952 campaign, after the scandal about a secret trust fund (Checkers was a dog and was not a scandal). Amtrak was not created in 1971. In any case, the nearest Amtrak station to Chico in the 1970s was in Orland - Amtrak didn't go through town. This myth is wrong in all of its particulars. About West First Street being closed: Yes, it was closed by demonstrators on the first Earth Day in 1970. The demonstration continued with people setting up continual crossing of crosswalks so cars could not pass. Sixteen of them were arrested (1 juvenile and 15 adults) and faced felony charges of "conspiracy," with the conspiracy in question being to block a public street — which was a misdemeanor. Many of them met for the first time in jail. The street was ultimately permanently closed for the few blocks that went through campus. Check stories in the Chico Enterprise Record for 1970 for documentation. (I had cut high school to attend the Earth Day events at Chico State and was present when demonstrators hauled a smashed car onto First St and lit it on fire. A sledge hammer had been used to smash the car and then was used to break some of the asphalt on the street itself.)

2015-04-26- I want to add that I at one time owned the laundromat on 5th and Ivy.  In the Basement there was a huge sign that said "Drugs" from an old drug store that the building used to be.  Behind the sign was an old walled up doorway that I think used to be part of the underground tunnel system mentioned in the rumors of the area.  There was also an old coal shoot and a furnace over 100 years old down there that had brass handles and was still connected to the gas lines!  I also was there for the torch in 1996 and my buddy touched it, and I used to climb the huge walnut tree by ranchero, and I worked at the Mcdonald's for my first job so I can confirm the locations.   I met the man responsible for falling rocks in chico when I worked at an old bookstore on Mangrove called "Readmore Books"  He admitted it to me at his very old age that he and a buddy built a relatively large medieval catapult for a college project back during the day.  They later threw rocks over town from inside lindo channel as a prank (which by the way used to be the original little chico creek if I remember correctly, Bidwell had it redirected to go past his mansion.  Hence this is  why it looks so much larger than little Chico creek) which also included the occasional dead fish and that is why the fish also fell from the sky. Alexander Clayton.


The present Chico Museum was the original Chico library. It was a Carnegie Library built in 1904 List of Carnegie Libraries in


Wanted to clarify on the Jonah Hill story and the subsequent McLovin comment. Yes it was Chris Mintz-Plasse (McLovin) that was partying in Chico shortly after Superbad came out, but he was not considering attending Chico State, he was visiting friends from high school in LA and partied at their house off North Cherry all weekend.

Source: Was there, sold him weed lol. 


1. City of Chico GIS map
2. Witnessed by Greg Bard and Richard Elsom, the only two people to witness the torch in Chico in both '96, and '04
3. National Geographic
4. AT LUCH WITH: Herb Caen
5. News From Our Past, Chico ER, 6 Dec 2008
6. Chico Chamber of Commerce - Chico Movie History
7. Chico News and Review