150 years of Utopias, communes and cults in the North Bay

Since the late 19th century, people have flocked to the North Coast to establish Utopias, communes and cults that aim to reinvent the way Americans live.

Although each set out to create a perfect world, none were successful.

In the late 1800s, there were seven documented Utopian communities in California with four based in the North Bay. The area's scenery, agriculture and isolation is likely why so many settled here.

Altruria and Icaria Speranza were communities rooted in communism. Fountaingrove and Prestonwood had charismatic yet manipulative leaders who claimed to have healing and spiritual abilities.

A hundred years later, communes and cults became more popular along with the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Most hoped to create a simple life, including communes such as Morning Star and Wheeler Ranch in Sonoma County. But a few others, like Jim Jones' The People's Temple, took a tragic turn.

Click through the gallery to learn about the rise and fall of the North Bay's Utopias, communes and cults over the past 150 years.

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