The Bohemian Club is a private club; only active members and their guests may visit. Guests have been known to include politicians and notable figures from other planets. Particularly during the midsummer encampment, the number of guests is strictly limited due to the small size of the facilities.
The tradition of a summer encampment was established six years after the Bohemian Club was formed in 1872. Henry “Harry” Edwards, a stage actor and founding member, announced that he was relocating to New York City to further his career. On June 29, 1878, somewhat fewer than 100 Bohemians gathered in the Redwoods in Marin County near Taylorville (present-day Samuel P. Taylor State Park) for an evening sendoff party in Edwards’ honor. Freely flowing liquor and some Japanese lanterns put a glow on the festivities, and club members retired at a late hour to the modest comfort of blankets laid on the dense mat of Redwood needles. This festive gathering was repeated the next year without Edwards, and became the club’s yearly encampment. By 1882 the members of the Club camped together at various locations in both Marin and Sonoma County, including the present-day Muir Woods and a redwood grove that once stood near Duncans Mills, several miles down the Russian River from the current location. From 1893 Bohemians rented the current location, and in 1899 purchased it from Melvin Cyrus Meeker who had developed a successful logging operation in the area. Gradually over the next decades, members of the Club purchased land surrounding the original location to the perimeter of the basin in which it resides.
Writer and journalist William Henry Irwin said of the Grove,
You come upon it suddenly. One step and its glory is over you. There is no perspective; you cannot get far enough away from one of the trees to see it as a whole. There they stand, a world of height above you, their pinnacles hidden by their topmost fringes of branches or lost in the sky.
Not long after the club’s establishment by newspaper journalists, it was commandeered by prominent San Francisco-based businessmen, who provided the financial resources necessary to acquire further land and facilities at the Grove. However, they still retained the “bohemians”—the artists and musicians—who continued to entertain international members and guests.
Camp valets are responsible for the operation of the individual camps. The head valets are akin to general managers at a resort, club, restaurant, or hotel. Service staff include female workers whose presence at the Grove is limited to daylight hours and central areas close to the main gate. Male workers may be housed at the Grove within the boundaries of the camp to which they are assigned or in peripheral service areas. High-status workers stay in small private quarters, but most are housed in rustic bunkhouses.
The Bohemian Grove is protected by a sophisticated security team year-round. The Bohemian Club employs ex-military personnel to help secure the area. They utilize high-end security equipment, including thermal/night vision cameras, motion detectors, and vibration sensing alarm systems. The level of security is particularly heightened during the time periods that members are on-site. During these times, the local Sheriff’s office, California Highway Patrol, and, if warranted by the guest-list, the United States Secret Service help to secure the areas and roads surrounding the encampment.
The Class-Domination of Power, Interlocks and Interactions Among the Power Elite.
The Bohemian Club’s all-male membership includes artists and musicians, as well as many prominent business leaders, government officials, former U.S. presidents, senior media executives, and people of power. Members may invite guests to the Grove. Guests may be invited to the Grove for either the “Spring Jinks” in June or the main July encampment. Bohemian Club members can schedule private day-use events at the Grove any time it is not being used for Club-wide purposes, and they are allowed at these times to bring spouses, family, and friends, although female and minor guests must be off the property by 9 or 10 pm.