Restored 1820s Russian Orthodox chapel, Fort Ross State Historic Park, California, USA.
Originally built in the 1820s, the restored chapel at Fort Ross was the first Russian Orthodox structure in North America outside of Alaska. Fort Ross State Historic Park preserves a former Russian colony (1812-1842) on the west coast of North America, in what is now Sonoma County, California, USA. The 5.5-inch howitzer cannons are historical reproductions. Visit Fort Ross and dramatic coastal scenery 11 miles north of Jenner on California Highway One. For centuries before Europeans arrived, this site was called Metini and had been occupied by the Kashaya band of Pomo people who wove intricate baskets and harvested sea life, plants, acorns, deer, and small mammals. Sponsored by the Russian Empire, "Settlement Ross" was multicultural, built mostly by Alaskan Alutiiq natives and occupied by a few Russians plus 300-400 native Siberians, Alaskans, Hawaiians, Californians, and mixed Europeans. Initially, sea otter pelts funded Russian expansion, but by 1820, overhunting motivated the Russian-American Company to introduce moratoriums on hunting seals and otters, the first marine-mammal conservation laws in the Pacific. Russian voyages greatly expanded California's scientific knowledge. Renamed "Ross" in 1812 in honor of Imperial Russian (Rossiia), Fortress Ross was intended to grow wheat and other crops to feed Russians living in Alaska, but after 30 years was found to be unsustainable. Fort Ross was sold to John Sutter in 1841, and his trusted assistant John Bidwell transported its hardware and animals to Sutter's Fort in the Sacramento Valley. Fort Ross is a landmark in European imperialism, which brought Spanish expanding west across the Atlantic Ocean and Russians spreading east across Siberia and the Pacific Ocean. In the early 1800s, Russians coming from the north met Spanish coming from the south along the Pacific Coast of California, followed by the USA arriving from the east in 1846 for the Mexican-American War. Today, Fort Ross is a California Historical LandmarAdd to Cart Add to Lightbox Download