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A magazine from California State University, Chico -- On-line Edition  
Fall 2005
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From left to right: Keith Johnson, Darcy Davis, and Ed Booth converge at the corner of the train depot in Chico, on West Fifth and Orange streets. Built in 1892, the building now serves as a terminal for Amtrak and Greyhound, and houses the Chico Art Center. (Not pictured: John Nopel)

Images of Chico

Alum Ed Booth (BA, English, ’92) is the primary author of Chico, part of the Images of America series published by Arcadia Press in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Released last fall, the book is co-authored by Keith Johnson, anthropology professor emeritus and archivist for the Butte County Historical Society; local historian John Nopel, also an alum (’35); and alum Darcy Davis (’82), a local photojournalist.

Booth, a fifth-generation Chicoan, says he has always been fascinated by historical photos of Chico. He worked for more than 15 years as a sports writer and copyeditor for the Chico Enterprise-Record and is currently a freelance writer. His father, Eddie Booth, spent 41 years at the newspaper, retiring as managing editor. Nopel made his large collection of historical photographs of Chico available to Booth for the book. “Being able to sit with Mr. Nopel as he brought out stacks and stacks of fabulous old photos was like sitting in a classroom and listening to the master cover all the history,” says Booth.

Nopel’s photos were augmented by images from the Butte County Historical Society archives, overseen by Johnson, and modern-day photos by Davis. The photographs, which span 145 years, document the changes in the Chico landscape. For example, the Esplanade, Chico’s grand, tree-lined boulevard, once served as a stage line, along with Main Street and Park Avenue. Rare photos show how these thoroughfares evolved from dirt paths to rail lines to the busy commercial streets of today.

“Many people come to Chico as university students and don’t want to leave,” says Booth. “Others visit or come to work here and stay the rest of their lives. That kind of lure is what makes Chico history such a fascination.”

The Images of America series documents the history of a town or region from the earliest days of photography to the end of the 20th century. Chico joins titles about other American communities, including metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C., and smaller cities such as Salem (Ohio), Portsmouth (New Hampshire), and Folsom (California).

Lisa Kirk, Public Affairs and Publications