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Fort Ross

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Fort Ross House

Fort Ross Photos

A former Russian establishment on the Pacific Coast, Fort Ross is in what is now Sonoma County, California in the United States. The hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America in the 19th century, it has been the subject of archaeological investigation and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Fort Ross Pics

Along the windy Highway 1 North of San Francisco, the landscapes and colors of the farms, mountains and open space look mysterious in the subdued light of foggy mists that blanket the scenery. The region is steeped in a history of diverse cultures that include settlers who came to seek riches of natural resources before the Gold Rush. Russians established Fort Ross as an outpost for trade in the early 1800's and left their mark in locations such as Russian River and Fort Bragg, North of Fort Ross. Fort Ross is situated in a somewhat undeveloped area near the Pacific Ocean. When driving along the coastal highway near this landmark, you can see cows sitting along the edge of the road munching on grass on steep hills.

The settlement of Ross, the name derived from the word for Russia (Rossiia), was established by the Russian - American Company, a commercial hunting and trading company chartered by the tsarist government, with shares held by the members of the Tsar’s family, court nobility and high officials.

Fort Ross Picture

Nowadays visitors can see many buildings of that historic period in Fort Ross State Historic Park, which is a reconstruction of the fort founded in 1812 by the Russians, who abandoned it in 1842. Maintained under the California State Parks system, several buildings at Fort Ross include a stockade, the first Russian Orthodox chapel south of Alaska, and the Commander’s House, which contains exhibits of the Russian-American Fur Company and the Russian occupation. Be sure to stop and get out of your vehicle to wander the grounds and try to imagine what life must have been like 200 years ago.

Fort Ross Books

The park has a visitor center and a bookstore that features one of the largest Russian History libraries in the North state. At the visitor center you can view the Russian samovars and table services. The compound features several buildings, including the first Russian Orthodox church on the North America continent outside Alaska. Here you can also have a history lesson that usually takes place daily at various times. Volunteer programs include living history events. Visitors from Russia are a daily occurrence along with many travelers from around the world. They enjoy not only the history of the Russian American Company, but also the natural resources like hiking, diving, and camping at the nearby Reef campground. The park also offers beach trails and picnic grounds located on more than 1000 acres.

Fort Ross Photo

An easy paced drive to Fort Ross yields few amenities such as public restrooms, gas stations and restaurants. Fort Ross offers restrooms, a picnic area, a visitor center and free parking.

For nearby accommodations, you might stay in Bodega Bay, Santa Rosa, Sea Ranch or Mendocino. There are dozens of villages, towns and several small cities with wonderful selection of local wines and food prepared by great chefs who utilize fresh fruits and vegetables in their preparations.

Fort Ross Pictures

North from Fort Ross is Salt Point State Park, a 3,500-acre expanse encompassing 30 campsites, 14 miles of trails, dozens of tide pools. At the Northern end of the park head inland to the Kruse Rhododendron Reserve, a forest grove of wild pink and purple flowers where the rhododendrons grow up to 18 feet high under the canopy of redwoods and firs.