Bodega Head, Bodega Bay

Bodega Head, Bodega Bay

by | Jul 4, 2021

Bodega Head is a granitic promontory at the north end of Bodega Bay in Sonoma County, approximately 40 miles (64 km) northwest of San Francisco and 20 miles (32 km) west of Santa Rosa, California. The headland and Doran Beach form a natural harbor protected from open ocean waves. The name is after the Peruvian explorer Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra of the Spanish Navy who explored this coast in 1775.

The Bodega Head peninsula and adjacent bay were probably inhabited seasonally by the Coast Miwok people before the arrival of Europeans. The present community of Bodega Bay is at the head of Bodega Harbor and was the site of the first Russian structures built in California. In 1807, the first Russians to see Bodega Harbor were sea otter hunters with the Russian-American Company aboard the American brig Peacock commanded by Oliver Kimball. The governor of Russian America, Alexander Andreyevich Baranov, sent Ivan Kuskov to survey the area for a new settlement on the Kad’yak that entered Bodega Bay on January 8, 1809. Kuskov buried possession plaques to indicate the company’s intention to claim this section of northern California for Russia. Kuskov erected a few temporary buildings to house the ship’s complement of 190 crew and named the settlement Zaliv Rumiantsev after Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev. They hunted sea otters in San Francisco Bay, which was Spanish territory, and returned to Alaska with more than 2,000 otter pelts in October 1809. In March 1812, Kuskov returned aboard the brig Chirikov to find the otter population in decline, and the harbor frequented by American and English otter hunting expeditions. After exploring the area they selected a new location 15 miles (24 km) north and established the settlement of Fort Ross. Fort Ross became the hub of a number of small Russian settlements that constituted the southernmost Russian colony in North America and were spread over an area stretching from Point Arena to Tomales Bay. The colony included Zaliv Rumyantsev in Bodega Bay, a sealing station on the Farallon Islands, and by 1830, three small farming communities called “ranchos” including Rancho Egora Chernykh near present-day Graton, Rancho Vasiliya Khlebnikova a mile north of the present-day town of Bodega Bay in the Salmon Creek valley, and Rancho Petra Kostromitinova on the Russian River.

In 1844, Governor Manuel Micheltorena gave Rancho Bodega, a Mexican land grant of 35,487 acres (14,361 ha) to Captain Stephen Smith. The grant extended along the Pacific coast from the Russian River on the north to Rancho Estero Americano on the south, and included the present-day town of Bodega Bay. In 1964, a controversial attempt by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company to construct a nuclear power plant on the peninsula was thwarted due to environmental concerns and the susceptibility of the site to earthquakes. The foundations, located 2 miles (3.2 km) west of the active San Andreas Fault, were being dug at the time the project was canceled, and the abandoned excavations are now locally called the “Hole in the Head“. Read more here and here. Explore more of Bodega Head and Bodega Bay here:

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