February 1842

February 5th. Bright, clear and warm.
February 6th. Same.
February 7th. Rainy.
February 8th. This morning snowed 5 minutes.

That was the weather report from the California coast in February 1842. John Bidwell spent all of 1842 at Bodega Bay and Fort Ross supervising the dismantling of the Fort and the shipment of all the useful items the Russians had left behind to John Sutter at New Helvetia on the Sacramento. He probably also made occasional trips down to San Francisco, and perhaps also back to New Helvetia, along with the equipment he was shipping to Sutter.

During that time he copied out the journal that he had kept on his overland trek to California. To this he added “Observations about the Country,” “Resources of the Country,” and other notes on the flora, fauna, climate, and political situation. Here are a couple examples:

“All concur in pronouncing the country good for fruit, apples, etc. I presume it is so; I went to Ross on the 25th on January–I saw here a small but thrifty orchard, consisting of apple, peach, pear, cherry, and quince trees–the peach trees had not shed their leaves and several were in blossom, the quince and more than half the apple tress were as green as in summer. There were roses, marygolds and several kinds of garden flowers in full bloom.” (The Bidwell-Bartleson Party, p. 60)

It’s no wonder he would later predict that California could become “one grand fruit orchard.”

“Fish–there is a great abundance of salmon in every stream, particularly in the spring of the year, when they are very fat. The Sacramento and its branches contain an abundance. Whales I likewise see almost daily spouting along the coast.” (The Bidwell-Bartleson Party, p. 64)

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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