Oroville is situated on the banks of the Feather River where it flows out of the Sierra Nevada onto the flat floor of the California Central Valley. It was established as the head of navigation on the Feather River to supply gold miners during the California Gold Rush.
Gold found at Bidwell Bar, one of the first gold mining sites in California, brought thousands of prospectors to the Oroville area seeking riches. Now under the enormous Lake Oroville, Bidwell Bar is memorialized by the Bidwell Bar Bridge, an original remnant from the area and the first suspension bridge in California (California Historical Landmark #314). In the early 20th century the Western Pacific Railroad completed construction of the all-weather Feather River Canyon route through the Sierra Nevadas giving it the nickname of ''The Feather River Route''. Oroville would serve as an important stop for the famous California Zephyr during its 20 year run. In 1983, this became a part of the Union Pacific Railroad as their Feather River Canyon Subdivision. A major highway, State Route 70, roughly parallels the railroad line through the canyon.
The Chinese Temple (CHL #770 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places is another monument to Oroville's storied past. Chinese laborers from the pioneer era established the Temple as a place of worship for followers of Chinese Popular Religion and the three major Chinese religions: Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. The Chinese Temple and Garden, as it is now called, has an extensive collection of artifacts and a serene garden to enjoy.