Fort Ross is a state historic park roughly 80 miles north of San Francisco. In 1812 it was established as the heart of a group of Russian outposts that included a seal hunting base in the Farallons, a port in Bodega Bay and a number of farms. Fort Ross was the site of California’s first windmills and ship building. It also was the source of deadly viruses like small pox that decimated the native population. By the late 1830s its purposes of fur hunting and agricultural supply to the more northern Russian colony at Sitka were no longer viable. It was sold to John Sutter (yes, that John Sutter). In the early 1900s the primary fort site passed from private hands to state ownership where it remains today.
In the next few months I’ll tell you the history of Fort Ross and Russia in North America. We’ll meet some of the key figures involved including the four men who appear on the WESTPEX 2012 souvenir sheet and two interesting women they encountered.