Images of America: Paradise

The trouble with trying to tell the history of a small town is it’s hard to separate tall tales from true ones. Take Paradise—was it named after the old Pair-O-Dice saloon, or an apocryphal quote from a Ridge pioneer resting in the shade of a ponderosa pine? (“Boys, this has got to be paradise.”) Butte County historian Robert Colby sorts out this legend and others in his second Images of America paperback. The photographs are all black and white, but the captions are colorful—describing the river-fed swimming pool, for instance, Colby notes that an official dedication was set for 1928, but “before the ceremony could be held, a herd of cattle headed for summer pasture was driven by, and seeing a ‘watering hole,’ they dedicated the pool in short order.” One photo shows a towering pine smack in the middle of Clark Road; another shows the tree-lined field where scenes from Gone with the Wind were shot. With maps, words and pictures, Colby details Paradise’s evolution from Maidu Indian land to the town it is today. His writing isn’t elegant, and if the Skyway isn’t your regular road, this might not be the book for you. But if you like local history, you’ll love leafing through Paradise.