For thirty years between 1812 and 1841, Russian explorers maintained an outpost on the northern California coast which flourished for a time as a farming, manufacturing and fur-trade center. These early entrepreneurs established the first windmills, brickyards and shipbuilding in the state. They also systematically mapped the region and studied the local plants and animals.
Using government documents, personal journals and letters, cartoons and excerpts of novels, retired archaeologist Glenn J. Farris has compiled a lively anthology that chronicles the history of Fort Ross and its diverse residents: Kashaya, Coast Miwok and Alaskan Natives, Spanish, Mexicans, Americans, as well as Russians. So Far From Home: Russians in Early Calfornia, published recently by Heyday Books ($21.95, 352 pages), is intended for both general readers and historians.
Fort Ross Historic State Park was created in 1909 to preserve the site and educate the public about the contributions of the Russian pioneers to California's economic and cultural development. To celebrate the bicentennial of its founding, Fort Ross staff and volunteers have organized an extensive two-day festival filled with traditional food, crafts, music, dance, and theatrical performances. A highlight is the special appearance by the Pyatnitsky Russian Folk Choir, the world-renowned folkloric ensemble from Moscow.
What: Fort Ross Bicentennial Weekend
Where: Fort Ross Conservancy, 19005 Coast Highway One, Jenner
When: July 28 (10 to 7 p.m.) and July 29 (10 to 4:30 p.m.)
Cost: $35 per car
For more info: 707-847-3437 or website