Butte County California Chinese Immigrants




The “Lava Beds” are shown on the Butte County Map in 1877 (Dunn 1977: ). The Lava Beds mines were mostly Chinese leased or owned (see Tax Assessment records in this study) and operated between 1872-1880 with 1874 being the peak production year. Local newspapers often declared the Lava Beds the largest Chinese camp in the state. According to the March 15, 1873 issue of the Butte Record the Chinese were building shanties all over the Lava Beds (Mansfield 1918:270, 271). The Chinese continued to mine the Lava Beds almost exclusively far into the late 1870s (Chan 1986:96). By the 1878 mining season the number of Chinese miners working at the Lava Beds had decreased to about two thousand, and, although mining kept going for a while, by 1881 the gold had played out.

The historic Marysville (1895) 30’ quadrangle map shows a place called the Lava Beds located 2.5 miles north-northwest of Palermo near the present area named Pacific Heights (Durham 1998:289). The Butte County map of 1886 shows Rialto as being located of the W ½ of Section 30, T19 N, R4E south of the Chinese cemetery (Dunn 1977:91. Rialto was a major street in the mining settlement, having retail stores, the Chinese theater, dwellings, gambling and prostitution establishments. The October 14, 1889 Mercury notes that six stages ran between the Rialto site and Oroville at the peak of its occupation.