A Hole in the Head

Submitted by gskinner on March 27, 2012 - 4:13pm
PG&E crews digging a hole at Bodega Head

PG&E crews digging a hole at Bodega Head

A nuclear power plant by Bodega Bay? PG&E proposed a new plant to be built on Bodega Head at the new Bodega Bay Atomic Park and had even started excavation for the reactor before Sonoma County residents -- spurred to action by rancher Rose Gaffney -- said NO! Gaffney ranched on Bodega Head and balked at selling PG&E a portion of her land for an access road. Local historian Simone Wilson notes in her 1995 Albion Monitor article that Gaffney was a formidable opponent and inspired others to pay attention to PG&E's plans.

Diners at Bodega Nuclear Power Plant Victory Party

Diners at Bodega Nuclear Power Plant Victory Party -- Rose Gaffney on left


Even after geologist Pierre Saint-Amand pointed out that PG&E had ignored the San Andreas Fault that ran directly through the reactor site, the utility pushed ahead with construction, but the state Public Utilities Commission stopped the project in 1963. The 8.5 magnitude Anchorage quake in 1964 finally put to rest any further efforts when geologists found the quake had caused significant slippage at Bodega Head. 

After PG&E gave up, they sold the land to the California State Parks for $1 and the Hole in the Head became part of Sonoma Coast State Beach (now Sonoma Coast State Park). You can view the hole from Westside Road as it climbs toward the parking area on Bodega Head

Want to learn more?

Check out the photographs of  the Hole construction, protesters and the victory party included in the Sonoma County Local History & Culture or resources from our print and video collections, including articles from the California Historical Society journal, protest materials, newspaper clippings, legal opinions from the California Supreme Court and a documentary on Rose Gaffney.

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