Fort Ross, State Historic Park, another good find! Monday, 10/15
Jimmy says we stumble up on more good stuff than most people, and he might be right. Half the time (or more) we don't plan, perhaps just an ultimate destination, but after that, it's anybody's guess. Certainly when we planned on coming to Salt Point St Pk, we didn't know a thing about Fort Ross. Do you? Turns out that it's one of the oldest parks (1906) in the California St Pk system.
Located on the Sonoma coast a few miles south of Salt Point, Fort Ross was founded in 1812 by members of the Russian-American Co, who built it with the help of Alaskan natives. The colony was established to grow wheat and other crops to support Russians living in their Alaska colonies! Plus, hunt marine mammals, of course. I won't go into all the details, but it was quite a comprehensive fort. The Russians brought craftsmen to build the redwood structures, and they are beautifully made; at the peak of the fort operation, 59 structures existed. By 1820, over-hunting depleted the marine mammal population, and the Russian-American Co introduced hunting moratoriums on seals and otters, establishing the first marine-mammal conservation laws in the Pacific. Who knew? By 1841, the R/A Co sold its Fort Ross holdings to John Sutter, of Sutter's Fort fame. And the history of this place goes on from there.
But first, here's our Tergel parked in the overflow area of Salt Point St Pk - what a great site!
Inside Fort Ross. These cannons are still ceremoniously fired at festivals.
And this champion eucalyptus tree is just outside the gate... biggest eucalyptus I've ever seen.
Jimmy and me in front of Kuskov House. Ivan Kuskov was the first manager of Fort Ross. In 1812 he brought 25 Russians and 80 Alaskans to build houses and a stockade. We had no idea Russians had built a fort this far south!
A bell and a sign explaining the chapel seen below.
Russian Orthodox Chapel fell to its foundation in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and had to be rebuilt. Only the roof and towers were salvaged.
Russian cemetery. 52 people are known to have been buried here. Tranquil final resting place.
Below Fort Ross, sheltered Sandy Cove, with its serene beach and still waters, called to us as an idyllic picnic lunch spot.
We were surprised to find this great blue heron fishing from a "raft" of kelp at sea.
Subsequent owners of Fort Ross were George W. and Mercedes Call. Amaryllis belladonna bloom in front of the house.
And these little guys were all over those flowers!
After Fort Ross and after lunch, we drove a short way up Fort Ross Rd to the (still fruiting) old Russian orchard. Several trees are of the Russian period, and many 'daughter' trees have been established -- we spied lots of apples. Across from the orchard, we walked in the Spira Memorial Grove, crossing and paralleling the notorious San Andreas Fault! We hoped today wouldn't be a mover and shaker! But, the walk was beautiful. In fact, this entire day was outstanding. Such stunning views, champion trees and wide-open meadows in this north coastal area represent Mother Nature at her best. We walked all day, up and down, nearly always within sight of those breathtaking offshore rocks and the restless sound of the surf. A stellar day!
After dinner, we sort of moseyed on down by the water, quiet now, listening to the boisterous surf, marveling at how much a person can pack into one day, and then we walked back up to Tergel, and captured one last picture.