From the Archives
The Flood of 82 As a long-time Bodega resident I was dismayed when I could finally make my way down off my hilltop in Joy Woods on Tuesday, 21 Jan 1982 and found my town looking like a war zone. My neighbors who were flood victims wept openly as they tried to clean up the wreckage of what had once been their homes, and the entire town was concerned for the families still stranded at the ends of blocked roads. Valley Ford and Bodega Bay were just as stunned. The first post-flood day everyone just helped each other dig out.
Porto Bodega - Then and Now In January 1982, a flood wreaked havoc throughout Rancho Bodega, from the Russian River south to Coleman Valley Road, Bodega Bay, all the way to Valley Ford and the Estero Americano, east to the western edge of Occidental and to the hamlet in Bodega on Salmon Creek Road. People lost homes, residents were stranded, and others risked their lives to rescue people and livestock. Local people, ranchers and the Volunteer Fire Departments rallied to aide and clean-up the mess immediately after the flood.
Tales from the Flood Two Steps up. Three steps back. In 1982, Linda Danielson and her sons lived on Bay Flat Road. She remembers "it POURED all night long. 9 inches+ AT LEAST!" The next morning with no electricity, a passing driver stopped by with a message from her Mom to "come up to Diekmann’s." Linda’s Mom lived a short way up the hill with her husband, part-owner of Diekmann’s store. Normally an easy walk from Bay Flat Road, the main road was washed out. Linda remembers a slippery, muddy ordeal, as they climbed the hill, scrambling up two muddy steps up and sliding back down three steps. To make matters worse when the electricity came on, she slid back down and climbed up again after turning off the electric lights left on the night of the storm. It took three full days for fresh supplies to arrive.
Christo's Fence The hamlet of Valley Ford hasn't changed much in the last four decades. But something happened here over 40 years ago that changed everything. A discreet monument marking that event stands at the Valley Ford post office, a single, corroded metal pole 18 feet high, with a small commemorative plaque at its base. It was at this spot that "Running Fence" came through, completed on Sept. 10, 1976. Christo and Jeanne-Claude ultimately enlisted 59 families whose properties fell within the proposed route of the fence. The ranchers and farmers weren't merely acquiescent, however; they had become committed partisans for the project. At the same time, news of the fence generated fierce push-back, primarily from environmentalists concerned about impacts on the land, and also from locals who were offended by promotion of the project as "art." They formed the Committee to Stop the Running Fence, and vowed to send Christo fleeing from Sonoma.
50th Annual Fisherman's Festival For over twenty years, the festivals were spread throughout the town, with the newly renovated Yacht Club the center of much activity, and fish and chips served at the Grange. There were foot races, kite flying contests, a Saturday night dance at the Grange, a juried art show, a "White Whale sale" and a crafts fair. Clown Lagoon was for children, where they played games, got their faces painted, and looked at cuddly animals. Volunteers are the heart and sole of Fish Fest. Each year dozens of committee chairpersons oversee the set up and supplying of Fish Fest, and hundreds of volunteers show up on the days of the event to sell tickets, fry fish, paint faces, pick up trash ... whatever it takes to put on a great party and help the Bodega Bay community prosper. Fish Fest Posters 1974-2023
Golden Hook Award The once all-important salmon season used to start in April with the Fisherman's Festival. Those festivities also included a very solemn ceremony of the Blessing of the Fleet honoring those who died at sea the previous year. It was especially solemn the year Bodega Bay lost eleven men. But thanks to a few hard-working women, the season ended joyously with a boisterous Golden Hook Award potluck party. It awarded the fisherman who landed the biggest fish of the season. Before the season started Beverly Burton would get a list of those who held commercial salmon licenses. She'd offer them a chance to buy in. Few fishermen could resist, and there was always a cautionary tale of one who didn't buy in, caught the biggest fish and missed out on all the money which went to the second biggest fish.
Fish Fest Posters Fish Fest posters illustrate Bodega Bay's Fisherman's Festival character in vivid and colorful detail. Fishing is at the center. A smaller fleet of good livelihoods survives today, despite heavy regulation, a threatened ecology, wavering governmental budgets and neglect at the shorefront. In the 1970's, black and white illustrations of silhouetted boats drawn against familiar shorelines transform in later years into beautiful colorful watercolor renderings of fish, crabs, workers onshore, and boats including the decorated fishing fleet that gathers at Fish Fest as the community prays for good luck and calm seas during the Blessing of the Fleet. Then community invites the public to celebrate the opening of salmon season with family fun and games that end up supporting Bodega Bay's community.
National Weather Service Bodega Bay Buoy The buoy, placed in service in 1981, failed in 1997. But federal government said it couldn't afford the $2.7 million to replace it and 26 other failing buoys along the coast. With the help of lobbying from George Boos and prodding from Representative Lynn Woolsey's office, the National Weather Service eventually picked up the tab and the $90,000 buoy was replaced. If it hadn't been for George Boos, we wouldn't have had our weather buoy, and it is a necessity for fishermen. It can be flat calm on Bodega Bay and blowing 12 knots offshore, and the fishermen need to know that.
Today's Diekmann's Bay Store Locals love pizza from Diekmann's in Bodega Bay. Their kids often order plain cheese with garlic sauce instead of tomato, while adults get their garlic chicken. They make them from scratch with all fresh ingredients and you can really taste the difference. We are not alone, their pizzas are wildly popular here in town. No, Diekmann's is not a pizza parlor, it's actually an old-fashioned market and deli with a rich history here in Bodega Bay. In fact, it's kind of like what they used to call a General Store.
The Bay Store Hellwig's (later Diekmann's) general store and service station in Bodega Bay. The Bay Hotel, Bar and Grill were operated by Glenice Carpenter's parents Harold and Frieda Ames and was the center of social gatherings. The women would gather around the old oil stove in the lobby with their knitting etc, and the men would pull up chairs from the dining room and play pinochle. The hotel operated the bar, called The Blue Room because of the blue glass windows. The dance hall just to the north would have dances and the patrons would walk down to the bar for refreshments. The "juke box" played and dancing was allowed in the lobby.
Gleason Beach Realignment Gleason Beach lies along the Sonoma coastline, midway between the community of Bodega Bay and the Russian River, where CA State Route Highway One travels along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Coastal erosion resulting from factors such as wave action, sea level rise, surface water runoff from surrounding land uses, and groundwater intrusion contributed to rapid bluff erosion over the last few decades. Caltrans conducted emergency repairs along this stretch of Highway 1 since the early 2000s. To keep State Route One open and operating in a safe manner, Caltrans is realigning a half-mile stretch of Highway One 400 feet east of the current alignment.
William Edward Gleason William Gleason was born in County Clare, Ireland on 1839. William was the son of Michael and Honoria O'Brien Gleason. William immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1844. He married Ann Melahan in 1864 and they had eight children. William can be found in California voter registration in 1867 in Bodega Township in Sonoma County. It is believed that William settled on what became known as Gleason Dairy Ranch in either the late 1850's or early 1860's. His wife, Ann passed away in 1882.
Honoria Tuomey- Preservation of the Coastline Imagine the Sonoma Coast beaches in the 1860s, just after the Bear Flag Revolt, when the State of California was just settling into existence. It was here that Honoria Tuomey was born, in 1866, on Buckhorn Ranch on Coleman Valley Road, and here she made her mark by assuring our beautiful coastline was preserved as a part of California State Parks.
Fires in Rancho Bodega NATIVE AMERICAN ERA 8000 BCE to 1836 Native Americans purposely burned most of Northern California every one to five years until Governor Vallejo prohibited the practice in 1836. Throughout California 5-13 million acres were burned each year. In 1818 Captain Golovine of the Russian Navy observed an Indian fire racing across grassland towards the Russian River. Lightning-initiated fires are estimated to have occurred once every 50 years. ROBERTSON FIRE Sept. 1961 Began six miles north of Bodega Bay and burned southwest jumping Coleman Valley Rd. Started on Marshall Hendren Ranch off Hwy 1, reached along the western slopes of Fay Creek, and along Tannery, and Coleman Creeks down almost to Salmon Creek. Burned 2208 acres. One of twelve fires burning that day in the north bay. Humidity near 0%, temperature high 90's, winds 80 mph from north east.
Ocean View House in Salmon Creek One of the best spreads in Salmon Creek is the old "Ocean View House", built in 1868 by Hugh Marshall, as a hotel, post office and saloon. It was a designated stop for the coast stagecoach of the time. Originally, the property - known as the Ocean View Hotel Property encompassed 25 acres-stretched as far as the beach, but after subsequent owners subdivided some of the land, it now sits on close to an acre with sweeping views. The 25-acre tract was deeded from Manuela Curtis (widow of Capt. Stephen Smith) to Hugh Marshall in March of 1862. Marshall planted the cypress trees at the house and it is said that Monarch butterflies used to winter in these trees. Three of the neighboring dwellings still standing today, originally served the purposes of the hotel. One bedded the stagecoach horses (for two horses, the same number used by a stage coach for part of the route), another was a chicken house to provide fresh eggs and poultry for hotel guests, and the third housed the cows that gave the milk (under the house floor there are still cement feed troughs and run-off troughs).
Babe Wood, From Hop Farmer to Cadillac Dealer Babe, named after his grandfather Samuel Talmadge, was born in Sebastopol in 1901. An avid baseball fan, Babe pitched for Santa Rosa High School. When his grandfather retired, he gave his Hop Farm, located by Mark West Creek, to his daughter, Babe's mother, Hattie Mae. Babe's grandfather and later his stepfather, Frank Wood, were successful hop farmers. Babe enjoyed farming and looked forward to a career as a farmer. Where Diekmann's is now, there was a two-story hotel. Babe recalled it had a big dining room, a bar, a big dance hall and stage. Stables were below the hotel, on the beach. For dances they brought their own piano, played by his older sister. Babe played saxophone, his brother played drums, and his younger sister did the entertaining. Good times were had by all. In the late 1920's, Babe's parents, Hattie May and Frank Wood bought an REO Flying Cloud. Babe proudly introduced the car in Santa Rosa. A natural entrepreneur, Babe quickly bought the entire stock. He sold so many REO Speedwagons that REO Motor Car Company, in Lansing, Michigan, created an advertisement with a picture of Babe on a REO Speedwagon in the Wood Family hopyard.
Tribute to Shirley Ames Shirley Ames passed away peacefully at her home. She was born in Fort Bragg, CA and moved to Bodega Bay at the age of 13 with her parents Edward (Dusty) and Ella Rhodes. Shirley attended Tomales High School and married her high school sweetheart, Harold Ames. Shirley worked in the crab and fish processing plants, and the US Postal Service for 31 years, serving as Postmaster for 22. On Christmas Eve she made sure all packages were delivered before she went home. She was a charter member of the Bodega Bay Grange and instrumental in the creation of the Bodega Bay Volunteer Fire Department and Volunteer Ambulance Service, a member of the Bodega Bay Fisherman's Wives, and the Rancho Bodega and Tomales Historical Societies. Shirley cooked and served many Bodega Bay Grange Crab Cioppinos and volunteered many hours at the Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festivals. She also enjoyed her role in the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds".
History of the Fishing Industry in Bodega Bay (Part 2) Bodega Bay and the Sonoma Coast have a rich history. At the end of one tectonic plate, looking out on another, the Coast was home to prehistoric animals like the Mammoths that roamed the forming coastline. For millennia the Coast Miwok in Bodega Bay and Point Reyes enjoyed the abundance of the ocean, bay, hills and grasslands. This was followed in rapid succession by explorers, settlers and entrepreneurs from around the world, including Spain, Russian, United States, Mexico, Central and South America, Germany, England and Ireland. The bay was a natural harbor, but so shallow most boats couldn't come further than the opening of the bay at Campbell Cove or Hog Gulch. In 1943, the Army Corps of Engineers dredged a channel through Bodega Bay and constructed jetties off the tips of Bodega Head and Doran Beach. This provided greater protection from foul weather and access to the shorelines of the Bay. With access to the interior of the bay, boats dropped off their catch to the fish buying and processing operations that started up on the east shore of the Bay. Then they would anchor-out in the middle of the bay or tie up to one another at the few docks until their next foray into the sea. The big storm of January 1959 blew several anchored boats onto the shore. Illuminating the need for a safer place to park the fleet. This led to the building of marinas to provide greater protection and ease of delivering product to consumers and wholesalers. The most recent and larger, Spud Point Marina, was constructed in 1985.
History of the Fishing Industry in Bodega Bay There are some battles that can never be won because they cannot and should not ever be lost. They must be fought continually, over and over again. Both environmentalists and commercial fishermen can give example after example of that type of battle. The battles to prevent dumping sewage into the ocean, the battles to save salmon runs in clean, unobstructed rivers, the battle to prevent the ocean floor from being stripmined, the battles to keep the oil industry out of fishery conservation zones at sea, and such, never end. Forces of greed or expediency are always ready to pounce. Our fishing industry at first resisted joining forces with environmental organizations. The environmental groups began showing up at the Fisheries Forum in Sacramento, then began to attend other fishery related groups.
Stewards of the Sea (Part 3) There are some battles that can never be won because they cannot and should not ever be lost. They must be fought continually, over and over again. Both environmentalists and commercial fishermen can give example after example of that type of battle. The battles to prevent dumping sewage into the ocean, the battles to save salmon runs in clean, unobstructed rivers, the battle to prevent the ocean floor from being stripmined, the battles to keep the oil industry out of fishery conservation zones at sea, and such, never end. Forces of greed or expediency are always ready to pounce. Our fishing industry at first resisted joining forces with environmental organizations. The environmental groups began showing up at the Fisheries Forum in Sacramento, then began to attend other fishery related groups.
Stewards of the Sea (Part 2) In the 1970s trouble for the fishing fleet was brewing again. Foreign fishing fleets invading local waters. Overfishing was becoming an issue. Local fishermen fought for the 200 mile limit as a Fisheries Conservation Zone. They also faced a disappearing crab fishery. Not only were foreign countries invading the catch, California state planned to build the Peripheral Canal that would devastate salmon runs.
Stewards of the Sea (Part 1) The fishing industry has gone through many changes through the years since World War II. One of the most dramatic was its changing role from "farmers of the sea" who harvested their catch, to the stewards of the sea. Fishermen in general and especially our local fisherman play an important role in conserving and protecting the fishery and the waters off Bodega Bay and the California Coast. It was not an easy or peaceful transition, but some key players turned it into success.
RBHS Building Repair Fundraiser When RBHS announced in Spring 2021 that we needed repairs to our building, the community stepped up and we received over $5,000 in donations. Last Fall we launched our fundraiser offering a matted print of David Lewis and Joan Poulos of the SS Marin, painted by Patty Pieropan Dong, and we received more than $6,000, including a $1,000 matching donation! These donations in 2021 covered the cost of our construction project! RBHS is grateful to these generous donors to the Building Repair Fund.
Bodega Bay Grange Crab Cioppino Since 1954, for 67 years, Bodega Bay Grange members and community have served up the best-tasting and arguably the most fun Crab Cioppino event. In 2021 we canceled our event due to COVID. Sadly, for 2022, we must postpone again to comply with local regulations and safety concerns related to COVID. We are optimistic that 2023 will be one heck of a Grange Crab Cioppino reunion. After all, we miss you! And we have the traditions of our forefathers to carry forward.
Casini Ranch From as early as 4000 BCE, Western Sonoma County was the home of the nomadic Pomo. The Pomo were hunter gatherers that lived in small groups of bands. Some of the Pomo people remain in the area today, including the Kashia Band at Stewarts Point Ranch and the Dry Creek Rancheria in Alexander Valley. Just to the South of Casini Ranch is Pomo Canyon Campground, named after the native people who once populated the area. Casini Ranch was once the Moscow Mill owned by the Russian River Land and Lumber Company. In 1889 the Russian River Land and Lumber Company was the largest owner of timber land in the area with 10,000 acres. Moscow Mill was located south of the mill relocated by the Duncan Brothers from the Russian River mouth to the location of the North Pacific Coast Narrow Gauge Railroad Bridge in 1877.
Bodega Dream (Part 5) In the 1950's Bodega Bay was a popular harbor with anchored boats. The fish were jumping and locals were busy processing fish for the post-war high-protein food demands. An old ferry boat from the Sacramento Delta was a perfect place to store ice and shark nets. But then, a major storm in 1959 washed the old SS Marin onto shore. A few years later, PG & E built Westshore Road & Whaleship Road leaving the big old boat high and dry at the corner of Westshore Road where it meets Bay Flat Road, where it has stood ever since. The boat is an outstanding, popular subject for artists, revealing the history and character of Bodega Harbor. But now, it's vanishing to the elements.
Bodega Dream (Part 4) 1958 - Eight years had already passed since 1951, when CA State granted "certain tide and submerged lands to the County of Sonoma". That left only two short years for Sonoma County to act and show real improvements to the State. Meanwhile investors large and small were ready, waiting and losing faith in the County's ability to come up with a fair, simple formula to rent the tidelands presumably to the owners holding property adjacent to the tidelands, in time for the State deadline but controversies & conflicts abounded.
Farewell to Meredith Wharf As heavy equipment removed chucks of piers and the dock, piece by piece an important part of Bodega Bay's history disappeared. The old wharf was once home to a thriving sea food business that employed men and women in Bodega Bay and was once an important part of the war effort.
James Smith's Lawsuit In February 1875, James Smith, son of Captain Stephen Smith sued some 40 ranchers in Rancho Bodega to reclaim property sold by Tyler Curtis. In October 1875, the lawsuit was dismissed in the Sonoma County court. In June 1877, the case was appealed and went to the California Supreme Court, where the court upheld the earlier judgment made by the lower court.
Bodega Dream (Part 3) In 1958 the Press Democrat reported "only through tideland development will Bodega Harbor become the great commercial and recreational center that almost everyone interested believes it could be. The more boats, wharves, ship's chandleries, marine ways and so on, the more you have the salty flavor and useful facilities that attract both the visiting pleasure boatman and the landlubber tourist."
Bodega Dream (Part 2) After construction of the jetties and channel was completed in 1943, Bodega Harbor became known as a safe, welcoming harbor in bad weather "much safer than nearby San Francisco Bay. While Bodega Harbor was sheltered, boats could only be pulled ashore onto tidal flats for storage, maintenance and engine repair -- not a sustainable solution for the thriving fishing and shipping to San Francisco Bay.
Bodega Dream (Part 1) For more than two centuries, controversy has eddied around Bodega Head and its safe harbor. In 1959, a Santa Rosa consulting engineer proposed reconstruction of Bodega Harbor. There were two channels and three boat basins. Roads were to be added between short canals and between the two basins.
The Ranches on Bodega Head The windswept Bodega Head: a park, a campground, two marinas, a world class marine research facility, all made accessible by the road PG&E built in the early 1960s. Life on the Head for the early Russian otter hunters and the subsequent European and American ranchers and farmers revolved around hunting, fishing, tending livestock, and growing food. Modern conveniences were few. The full force of the weather was always at hand. And for thousands of years before that, Native Americans lived in small villages on the Head, where shell fish, birds, rabbit, deer and fresh water springs were plentiful.
Seaman's Cemetery The Rancho Bodega Historical Society is working with the Smith Family and Graton Rancheria to recognize and honor Native Americans and early settlers by respectfully marking a historic plot of land (about 1 acre) on Heron Drive in Bodega Harbour. Formerly owned by the Smith Family, Graton Rancheria holds the title to the burial ground overlooking the sea and Bodega Bay on one side. The other side overlooks the valley where Highway One winds among the steep hills and canyons of our Coastal Prairie below.
History of the Bodega Bay Fire & Rescue Services It all began with boats exploding. That's what a gathering at Bodega Bay learned about the history and evolution of the local fire department at the joint meeting in September of Rancho Bodega Historical Society and the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District. It was an eye-opener for many Bodega Bay residents who did not know of the department's colorful history. In 1953 the post-war fishing fleet had grown, the boats were powered by gasoline, not diesel. Fumes gathered in the vessels holds and were set off by a spark when they started their engines. "The explosions would wake us in the early hours. They rocked the town. You'd feel them even more than hear them," said Shirley Ames. "Men would be badly burned, and boats badly damaged."
Another Historical Society in Bodega Bay? If you are interested in the history of shipwrecks and remains of the old "dog hole ports" I know you will be excited and interested to hear that a new historical society is forming in Bodega Bay. The Redwood Coast landscape is dotted with evidence of how the lumber trade adapted to the rugged marine environment allowing the business to flourish from the mid-19th century into the 20th century. SCHUNRS is the creation of John Harreld, a volunteer scientific scuba diver for the Bodega Marine Lab, Jason Herum, Dive Safety Officer for BML, and Denise Jaffke, a State Parks archaeologist from Lake Tahoe. Their goals are to: discover "lost" maritime cultural resources, document, protect, and interpret existing and newly discovered maritime cultural resources, contribute to the training of scientifically certified SCUBA divers in underwater archaeology methods, public education and outreach. SCHUNRS (pronounced "schooners") will be documenting the remains of infrastructure and shipwrecks at several sites on the coast, including Bodega Bay.
Faces Exhibit The Faces of Bodega Bay exhibit held on April 28 and 29, 2019 at the Grange was a fabulous success. After more than a year and half of preparation, John Hershey and Robin Rudderow were pleased to present eighty-nine artful portraits of Bodega Bay locals. To convey a bit of each personal story, each person or family was pictured in their own surroundings, telling us what they find special about Bodega Bay.
Robin on French TV Earlier this year Robin Rudderow, our RBHS archivist, was interviewed by a video team putting together a program about Alfred Hitchcock for French TV. It's a travel show that focuses on locations where films were made. This program featured San Francisco for "Vertigo" and Bodega Bay for "The Birds".
Louie's Wharf Louie's Wharf was a commercial wharf. It is the site of the beginning of the Bodega Bay tourist industry, as early as 1926 with a refreshment stand, called "Coast Camp". Louis Asman owned the wharf and started the party boat industry. Mitch and Wanda Zankich built the restaurant on the water after a 1960's fire. The Tides Wharf Restaurant and Gift Shop have been extensively remodeled since the Zankich building. Robert Bugatto expanded across the highway in the 1980s. Located there now is the Inn at the Tides.
Smith Family In 1843, Captain Stephen Smith and Tsupu had a son William (Bill) Smith. In 1876, he married Rosalie Charles and they had 12 children. In the early 1900's with the help of his large Bodega Miwok family, Bill Smith founded the commercial fishing industry in Bodega Bay.
Rose Gaffney In 1916 as a young woman, Rose found her home at the Gaffney Bodega Head ranch as hired help to do housework. Eventually she married one of the Gaffney brothers. When he retired from ranching they moved nearby to Salmon Creek.
Admiral Belcher's Maps of Bodega Bay European explorers were reaching the far ends of the Earth by the early 1800's, including Edward Belcher. Born in 1799 in Nova Scotia, then a province of England, and now Canada, Edward joined the British Royal Navy at age 13, when England was at war with France. After the war, he was assigned to ships that explored the Mediterranean and Pacific coastlines and several South Pacific Islands.