Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fort Ross

One foggy morning we drove up the coast to visit Fort Ross with the promise to the kids that we would play on the beach in the afternoon. None of us had a clue what a fun and interesting morning our visit to Fort Ross would turn out to be.


(Insert more gratitude that the CA State Park system is still in tact!)

The Fort Ross Colony was established by the Russian-American Company in 1812 with the help of Alaskan Alutiiq natives.  It was the southern most Russian settlement in North America.  Also in the park is the Call Ranch house that represents the era following the Russians.  The park is 3,400 acres, but sorry to say, most of that is not accessible.  It’s fun to imagine that these buildings are all original. In fact,  extensive restoration has been completed by the CA park system.

All of the structures are in pristine condition.  Maybe because they are redwood?  The only paint is on the borders around the windows.


The whole fort is surrounded with a very tall fence with these stakes at the top.


Blockhouses anchor the northwest and southeast corners.


The Kuskov House was probably a dorm, but now houses an extensive collection of artifacts from the Russian settlement. Note the middle door, it leads to the stairs you will see in next picture.


This massive door closes the top of the stairs.  I’m guessing two purposes…….first for security, and second to keep the downstairs heat from escaping up the stairs.


Each room has a different theme.  This is the lab.  On the other wall was a great collection of specimens.  Including a huge barnacle that I didn’t get to see.




The powder kegs and horns were part of a collection of rifles.



The Rotchev House is furnished with beautiful antiques and hand craved cabinets.  The path leads to the Call Ranch House and Sandy Cove.


The fog was creeping in and out creating a very typical north coast  morning the day we visited.   This is the Chapel in the south west corner.


Only two ‘sally ports’ allow access to the interior courtyard of the fort.  This one faces the ocean.  The other is in the north wall.


I bet you can imagine how much fun it was to run across the compound, explore the shadowy buildings, climb to the top of the blockhouses to search the ocean for ships, and pretend to fire the canons!


Several out buildings for the Call ranch are just barely holding on.  The Ranch house is open for tours on week-ends.  There’s a vegetable garden created by a local elementary school class.


My camera continues to play tricks on me, but you can at least get an idea of the massive size of this tree.


On the walk back to the parking lot we discovered a patch of rattle snake grass.


The drive down the coast didn’t seem so long and soon the kids were playing in the sand on the jetty at Bodega Bay.  It’s about the only safe place to get in the water on the whole Sonoma Coast.

On Friday I decided to drive north on Highway 1 while L and the kids headed for home.  The sun was out when I stopped to walk down to Sandy Cove at the Fort.


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