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Location in Butte County and the state of California
Location in Butte County and the state of California
Concow, California is located in the United States
Concow, California
Concow, California
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
County Butte
 • Total 27.780 sq mi (71.950 km2)
 • Land 27.406 sq mi (70.981 km2)
 • Water 0.374 sq mi (0.969 km2)  1.35%
2,005 ft (611 m)
 • Total 710
 • Density 25.56/sq mi (9.87/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code 530
FIPS code 06-16035
GNIS feature IDs 1867007, 2407652

Concow (formerly, Con Cow) is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) of 700 people in Butte County, California, United States. It is named after the Native American tribe that is indigenous to the area, the Concow Maidu [1]. The original inhabitants ate salmon from the Feather River, acorns and pine nuts, venison, nō-kōm-hē-i'-nē, and other sources of food which abounded in the California foothills.


"In the beginning Wahno-no-pem, the Great Spirit, made all things. Before he came, everything on the earth and in the skies was hidden in darkness and in gloom, but where he appeared he was the light. From his essence, out of his breath, he made the sun, the moon, and the countless stars, and pinned them in the blue vault of the heavens."


There is no indication that there was external governance of the Concow region or the tribal peoples that inhabited the region during the 1697–1821 Spanish colonization or the 1821–1846 Mexican era, characterized by the spread of Californio slave ranchos. The Concow region is 20 miles north of the city of Oroville (an Anglo-Hispanic compound meaning 'gold-town') and about the same distance east of the town of Chico; named for Rancho Arroyo Chico—meaning 'little creek ranch.' Rancho Arroyo Chico was established through a land-grant from the Mexican authorities in 1844, two years before California was invaded by United States forces, an indication that there was some Mexican governance near the Concow region, but no indication of governance of the region.


Aside from governance, starting in 1828, northern trappers including Jedediah Smith, Michel Laframboise, and John Work first made contact with the Concow region Maidu. In 1851 the Beckwourth_Trail established the first transportation route to the Concow region. The route did not pass directly through the present day Concow, the trail followed a series of ridgtops 10 miles to the East. Soon began death from diseases, such as pneumonia and malaria, that the Maidu have no natural immunity. In addition to disease, in 1853, under the leadership of Gov. Bigler, several municipalities within the State of California ordered all non-European people of California - including the Maidu - exterminated in return for a $5.00 ($134.95 in 2010 US$) cash bounty for each verified male killed and a lesser cash bounty for a dead woman or child. In addition to the municipal bounty system, through funding numerous militia attacks on the native people, the resulting debt became known as the "California War Debt" or "Army Appropriations Bill". In 1854 - though not entirely clear why - Secretary of War Jefferson Davis wrote California that their 'war' expenditures could not be authorized without the original bills of sale to verify the purpose was one intended by congress. The bill of sale for the bounty was the head. California was reimbursed $924,259.65 ($23.4M 2010US) by the United States Federal Government and again reimbursed $229,981.67 in 1861 for the intervening years. Sometimes children could be sold for more than the per claim amount allowed. To maximize profits, during 'hunts' they tried to only kill children that were not old enough to work. The older children were instead enslaved as provided by the Act of 1850 for the Government and Protection of Indians. Assuming the $1.2M the State of California claimed in expenses for the 'War' was used entirely for $5 bounties, then this represents the death of 240,000 California natives; during that same time period the native population declined from 250,000 to less than 50,000, a comparable amount. Their fictionalized but true in spirit story is told by the real person Ishi, who may have been part or full Maidu. Ishi was from the Concow region.


Permanent settlements soon followed and by 1856 several were well established. The growth of these settlements increased after Charles Curtis constructed a toll bridge (1858) across the Feather River at Nelson's Bar and the next year (1859) an additional bridge was constructed by residents of Whiskey Town over the Feather River just North of the Concow region. Basically, there was a Northernly trail and bridge from present day Oroville, and a Southernly trail and bridge from present day Magalia.


After a decade of genocide and forcible removals, in 1859 the last of the Kon Kow peoples were forcibly removed by Tehama County ranchers as part of a larger four county 'roundup.' They were held at the Mendocino Reservation until the California Reservation Administration at the camp collapsed due to lack of funding due to the Civil War occurring on the East Coast. The Kon Kow were then deported to the Nome Cult Farms at the Round Valley reservation. By 1862 the last of the native Concow inhabitants were starving on the cramped Round Valley with unrelated people relocated from surrounding regions. The damp coastal climate on the reservation contrasts with the dry climate of the California 'Gold Country' they are accustomed to. It was the midst of the North American Civil War and federal funds for California Reservations were no longer arriving. In the cooling weather of late September, on September 24, 1862, a combination of the poor camp conditions, forced participation in a massacre of the local Wailaki peoples, warnings by local whites that they were planning to massacre the reservation inhabitants that winter, and an imminent winter disaster under the supervision of indian agent James Short forced a group of over 400 men, women, children, and elderly to set out with Tome-ya-nem, without provisions, for the 130 miles back to their home in the Concow Valley: a 10-day hike for well equipped healthy young adults. They made it as far as present day Chico where Agent Hanson had made an agreement with John Bidwell to stop and encamp the Kon Kow people at Bidwell's old river landing - now under Lake Oroville - under the supervision of Sub Agent Eddy and employed for $.10 per hour ($2.72 2013US) constructing the Chico-Humboldt road and providing labor for various employers in the area.


The following spring three young children were attacked with the two boys killed and the kidnapped girl escaping after being forced to walk to a village near present-day Concow in what became known as the Pence massacre, the murders were within the present day Concow CDP and 9 miles from Concow Valley - the KonKow people were blamed. In the following days 611 KonKow people were murdered by a vigilante volunteer posse of 500 white men that sought to kill every non-white in Butte County.

The End

After consulting with Superintendent Hanson and superiors Colonel Richard Cloyd Drum and General George Wright, Captain Starr was ordered by General Wright in Post Order No. 6 to lead 23 soldiers of Company F 2nd Regiment California Volunteer Cavalry and move the now imprisoned people the 110 miles from Camp Bidwell back to Round Valley on the Nome Cult Trail on what became a 20-day forced death march now remembered as the KonKow Trail of Tears. Despite efforts by the soldiers and the Pence resolution mandated donations of food and shelter provisions, horses and wagons, each day those who could not make the march through the hot arid early September Sacramento Valley - where afternoon temperatures top 90 °F or over the 6,000 foot crest of the North Coast Ranges - were left behind without food or water. They were given no provisions by the soldiers and starved to death during the winter.

Bands of Rogue Natives

In 1864 a band of Kon Kow Maidu left the Round Valley reservation and again headed back to their home. The reservation agent sent a letter to the Concow post office noting their departure and that they seemed 'hostile.' What became of this band is not known, the following year in August a group of 25 Kon Kow were attacked and killed after a robbery that included two murders at the Robert Workman home; this became known as the Three Knolls Massacre and is seen as a smaller episode of the Mill Creek War. And the following year in February, another 5 Kon Kow were killed as continued retribution for the previous years murders.

Relics of Maidu

The current inhabitants of Concow, including a few Maidus, commonly find relics of the Maidu in the form of beads and stone tools while digging in and around their homes. In the Concow Lake Valley there is no monument, plaque, or other recognition to memorialize the fate of the KonKow people - few if any of the current inhabitants know.

The Commune Era

While a post office operated at Concow from 1882 to 1906, renamed from Con Cow to Concow in 1895, and relocated several times, the region was sparsely populated and dominated by a few ranching families. The economy of the region rose and fell with the gold rush need for supplies, the civil war demand for pine turpentine, logging, and the water way that allowed for ranching. The economy ebbed and flowed for a hundred years under the constraint of the difficult access to the region.

In 1962 a new 4-lane alignment of California State Route 70 wrapped around the western side of the then proposed Lake Oroville and reconnected with the existing highway 70 at Jarbo Gap. The realignment placed a major throughway to the Concow region, opening the area for residential purposes and made it easier for adherents to the then blossoming 'land movement' to find inexpensive land in an undeveloped region, within commuting distance of a large metropolitan region. From this point to 2008, Concow become a haven for those escaping 'the world.' Unpermitted structures constructed with commune labor and primitive or re-purposed materials dotted the landscape and housed an eclectic community for the next 50 years.

In 2008 a 60,000 acre (large fire) wildfire destroyed 250 structures, of those 220 were unpermitted and either were not built to building codes, did not bother with building inspections, or did not use approved building materials. Due to the 'land' nature of the community, affording construction following building codes was not possible initially and reconstruction to building codes is not possible or within the 'ethos' of the community. The county offered special waivers for reconstruction, but the community was already gutted, those who remain are a shadow of the community. Filling this void is a wave of retiring baby boomers and young couples following a current 'land movement' based on contemporary ideals but still following the core of previous movements.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 27.78 square miles (71.9 km2), of which, 27.41 square miles (71.0 km2) of it is land and 0.37 square miles (0.96 km2) of it (1.35%) is water.

For unknown reasons the community's name was absent from the US Geological Survey files until 1990. Other nearby communities are The Pines (USGS feature ID 268203), and Deadwood (USGS feature ID 1655957). The community is off State Route 70 east of Cherokee. Concow School is shown on some maps. There is a Concow Dam, Road, and Creek nearby.



As of the census of 2010, there were 710 people, 360 households, and families residing in the city. The population density was 13 inhabitants per square mile (5.0/km2). There were 360 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile (5.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.1% White, 3.4% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander, 1.4% from other races, and 8.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.9% of the population. here were 360 households of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them. There were 178 families, 59.0% were with children under 18 years, 146 of 178 families were husband-wife families.



At the 2000 census the population was 1,095 and with 319 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 29.1 people per square mile (11.2/km²). There were 571 housing units at an average density of 15.2 per square mile (5.9/km²). In 2008 the Butte Lightning Complex fire destroyed 308 homes In the 2010 census "the biggest [regional] percentage drop was in fire-scarred Concow, down 35.16 percent to a population of 710".


At the 2000 census, the racial makeup of the CDP was 90.68% White. As individuals, in the Concow CDP there are, 10 Blacks or African Americans, 25 Native Americans, 6 Asians, 12 Pacific Islanders, 12 who identify themselves as other races, 47 who identify with two or more races and 52 inhabitants of the Concow region who identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino.


In the CDP, the population was spread out with 23% under the age of 18, 4% from 18 to 24 (i.e., 44 individuals), 21% from 25 to 44, 34% from 45 to 64, and 18% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 117.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.9 males. 24% of households had children under the age of 18 living with them. 53% were married couples living together, 8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30% were non-families. 23% of all households were made up of individuals and 8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.4 and the average family size was 2.7.


The median income for a household in the CDP was $32,000, and the median income for a family was $41,250. Males had a median income of $24,408 versus $39,479 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $15,829. About 8% of families and 14% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27% of those under age 18 and 7% of those age 65 or over.

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