The original buildings were constructed based on traditional Russian blockhouses and log buildings found in Siberia and Alaska. Wellhouses, a Chapel, Managers' Quarters, Sentry blockhouses and Officials' quarters were all constructed as part of the Russian Compound. The Fort was never able to sufficiently provide for the Alaskan outposts and the income from Sea Otters soon became depleted. Unfortunately, the rocky terrain, wind, fog, pests and lack of trained agriculturalists kept the harvests low.
The Russian ownership of the Fort ended in 1841 when it was sold to John Sutter who moved most of the livestock, equipment and armaments from Fort Ross to his Fort near Sacramento (Sutters' Fort).
Over the years the Fort passed through a series of owners and was finally turned over to the State of California in 1903. The Fort suffered some damage during the 1906 earthquake and a fire destroyed several buildings in 1970. A total of ten buildings have now been reconstructed and renovated. A self guided walking tour is available and docents are on hand to answer questions. Frequent encampments are offered which reinact the live of the Russian inhabitants of the compound.
Fort Ross is open to visitors from 10am to 5pm daily. Entry cost is $2 per vehicle. Ample parking is available. A comprehensive museum and picnic tables are adjacent to the parking area. A short walk of about 0.6 of a mile (handicapped accessible) will take you to the restored Fort for a walking tour of the current 10 reconstructed buildings.
by Barb B
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona
October 10, 2000
From journal California's Mendocino Coast