The one that got away

Old Brownie.

The Chico History Museum re-opened to the public last Saturday (May 1) after being closed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the current exhibits is a piece of recently resurfaced Chico history long thought lost to the streams of time: a giant metal trout known as “Old Brownie.”

The fish (pictured) hung over the entryway of Barth’s Sporting Goods, formerly located at 128 Broadway Street, for several decades. At one point, the fish was threatened by a local sign ordinance, but in 1981, the Chico Planning Commission and City Council took measures to have it declared historical and exempt from removal. Then, in 1986, it disappeared.

Now that the fish has resurfaced, the museum will remain Old Brownie’s permanent home. The museum is also offering Barth’s Sporting Goods-branded merch for a limited time.

The Chico History Museum is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Covid safety measures, such as guests wearing facial coverings and maintaining social distancing, are in effect. For more information, go to or call 891-4336.

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