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Fort Ross

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 Tsarís family, court nobility and high officials. Trade was vital to Russian outposts in Alaska, where long winters exhausted supplies and the settlements could not grow enough food to support themselves. Baranov directed his chief deputy, Ivan Alexandrovich Kuskov, to establish a colony in California as a food source for Alaska and to hunt profitable sea otters. After several reconnaissance missions, Kuskov arrived at Ross in March of 1812 with a party of 25 Russians, many of them craftsmen, and 80 native Alaskans from Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands. After negotiating with the Kashaya Pomo people who inhabited the area, Kuskov began construction of the fort. The carpenters who accompanied Kuskov to Settlement Ross, along with their native Alaskan helpers, had worked on forts in Alaska, and the construction here followed models of the traditional stockade, blockhouses and log buildings found in Siberia and Alaska. The venture of the Russian-American Company into California was short-lived. However, the memory of it has lingered long, preserved in the buildings and the stockade at Fort Ross, both original and restored, in the place names of scattered creeks and coves along the northern coast and of the largest river in Sonoma County, and in the vestiges of Russian and Native Alaskan influence on the Kashaya Pomo language and culture.

Post cards: Fort Ross

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