Rose Gaffney

Rose Gaffney

Photographic portrait of Rose Gaffney, anti-nuclear activist, taken by John LeBaron in the 1960s.

Rose Gaffney at the Bodega Head

Photograph of activist Rose Gaffney at the Bodega Head, California. Press photograph (unknown publication) dated January 27, 1972.

Hole in the Head

The Hole in the Head is a 90 foot by 120 foot deep hole dug by PG&E during the initial phase of the atomic power plant construction at the Bodega Head in the early 1960s.

Rose Gaffney was an environmental activist who fought to save the Bodega Head from becoming the site of a nuclear power plant. Born in 1895 to Polish immigrants, Gaffney moved to Bodega Bay, California around 1911. As a young girl, Gaffney worked as a maid for the Gaffney brothers, who owned a big portion of the land known as the Bodega Head along the northern California coast.  In later years, she was known as the "Belle of Bodega Bay" and the "Mother of Ecology,” although she had never heard of the word ecology until she took on one of America's largest gas and electric utility companies in her determination to save the coastline from development.

A number of activists, with outspoken Gaffney at the helm, joined forces to oppose the construction of a nuclear power plant proposed for the Bodega Head by Pacific Gas and Electric Company in the 1960s.  The group included marine biologist Joel Hedgpeth, museum curator Karl Kortum, his brother, veterinarian and environmental activist Bill Kortum, and Berkeley law student David Pesonen. Ultimately, Rose Gaffney and her fellow environmentalists, plus many others in the Bodega Bay area and beyond, drew together to stop PG&E’s construction and preserve the land.  The struggle against the plant became a template for grassroots environmental action from then on.  Rose Gaffney died in 1979.