When John Bidwell headed off to the Feather River to mine for gold, he didn’t just jump on his horse and go. There was planning to do, and Bidwell was always a man who planned carefully before taking a course of action. In his 1877 Dictation he stated:
“On reaching Chico (he actually meant his cabin on Butte Creek, a few miles south of the future site of Chico), an expedition was organized but it took some time to get everything ready. We had to send twice up to Peter Lassen’s mill to obtain flour, meat had to be dried, and we had to send to Sacramento for tools.
“In our party were Mr. [William] Dickey, [John] Potter, John Williams, William Northgraves, and myself. We passed near Cherokee and up on the North Fork.
“In nearly all the places we prospected we found the color. One evening while camped at White Rock, Dickey and I in a short itme panned out about an ounce of fine gold. The others refused to prospect and said the gold we had obtained was so light that it would not weigh anything. At this time we were all unfamiliar with the weight of gold dust but I am satisfied that what we had would have weighed an ounce.
“At length we came home and some of the men went to the American River to mine. Dickey, Northgraves and I went to what is now Bidwell’s Bar and there found gold and went to mining.”
I expect it took at least two weeks to get everything together for their expedition. No point in going up the river without enough food or the proper tools. All the names Bidwell mentions were men who had settled in the vicinity. William Dickey at the time owned Rancho del Arroyo Chico, a 22,000 acre Mexican land grant that he had acquired in 1844. Bidwell would make it his own after the Gold Rush.