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Until the Fall of 1775, the Miwok and Pomo Indians lived peacefully in the coastal mountains and valleys of what we now call Sonoma County. Their lifestyle revolved around the seasons, hunting and gathering from the land and harvesting the sea and rivers. Little changed over hundreds of years until the first white sails were spotted off the coast. The Spanish sloop, Sonora, carried Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra Mollineda and a group of explorers to anchorage at the mouth of Tomales Bay at the southern end of Bodega Bay according to a journal kept by a member of the company. Slowly moving north from Mexico since the mid-1500s, the Spanish claimed vast areas of land for Spain and sent back tales of the glory of California. This attracted explorers from other countries throughout the world. But it wasn't until the early 1800s that white settlements began to spring up along the coast. By 1812, Russian fur traders were looking for new sources of otters and seals and came south in search of better food supplies for their northern settlements. With the help of local Indians, they built Fort Ross 24 miles north of Bodega Bay. By the mid-1800s, Mexico had gained independence from Spain and in the process, granted the land to Mexican citizens and soldiers. General Vallejo and his family were among those who established hundreds of thousands of acres of ranchos along the coast and inland valleys in what is now much of Sonoma County. One of the settlers was Captain Stephen Smith who married a Peruvian, Manuela Torres, and became a Mexican citizen in order to receive a land grant. Together they established Rancho Bodega bordered by the Russian River to the north and Estero Americano to the south, a large portion of the Bodega Bay Area. Firman Camelot founded the town of "Bay" in the late 1800s, which later changed its name to Bodega Bay. The tiny town of Bodega shares the mysterious source of its name with Bodega Bay. Here Captain Smith built the first steam-powered saw mill in California with parts he brought by ship. Bodega suited him well with its abundant source of wood and nearby bay for shipping. The town grew to its largest size around the turn of the century then diminished to its current population of under 100. In more modern times, Bodega Bay become known around the world as the setting for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds".

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