Among the lifelong fears Jim Jones had was that posed by the threat of nuclear war, which Jones perceived as inevitable. He mentioned the subject in scores of sermons and addresses, during editorial asides as he read the news in Jonestown, and in private conversations. Towards the end of his life in Jonestown, he commented numerous times – such as in Tape Q 294 – that China realized nuclear war was unavoidable, and pursued policies to “bring it about as quickly as possible,” so that the survivors could begin to rebuild.
Sixteen years earlier, after returning to Indianapolis from his two years in Brazil, Jones announced that he had received a vision of nuclear holocaust that destroyed Chicago in a burst of light visible from Indianapolis. His apocalyptic vision was one of the factors that led him to consider other places to relocate Peoples Temple.
In January 1962, Esquire Magazine published an article listing the nine places in the world which purportedly would be safe in the event of nuclear war. One of those places – and the safest place in the United States – was Eureka, California, which the article described as
a landlocked port of nearly 30,000 people 283 miles north of San Francisco and more than 100 miles north of the nearest target… It generally escapes damage in the war-games attacks because it is west of the Sierras and upwind from every target in the United States.
A story about the Esquire article was reported by UPI and published in newspapers across the country.
However Jones learned about the Esquire piece, it provides the destination for Jones to move his Temple to safety, and beginning in 1963, church leaders decided to relocate to Ukiah, about 150 miles south of Eureka.
Reprinted with permission. Citation for article: “Caroline Bird. 1962. “Nine Places to Hide: The Small World is Getting Smaller.” Esquire 57 (January): 55–57, 128–32.”