Fort Ross, Northwest Cape

Fort Ross, Northwest Cape

by | Mar 14, 2019

Fort Ross was a settlement established in 1812 by the Russian-American Company at Northwest Cape, California. It was the southernmost hub of the Russian fur trading in North America until 1842. The name of Fortress Ross appeared first on a French chart in 1842 and is derived from “rus” or “ros”, the Russian word for “Russia”.

Northwest Cape was approximately where the Spanish and Russian expansion met along the coast of Alta California in the early 19th century. By that time, British and American fur trade companies had also established a coastal presence in the Pacific Northwest, and Mexico would soon be independent. Mexico would cede Alta California to the United States in 1848 following the Mexican–American War. The history of the settlement at Fort Ross began during Spanish rule and ended under Mexico.

Russian personnel from the Alaskan colonies initially arrived in California aboard American ships. In 1803, American ship captains were already involved in the sea otter fur trade in California and proposed several joint venture hunting expeditions to the Russian-American Company. Subsequent reports by hunting parties of uncolonized stretches of coast encouraged the Russians to build a settlement in California north of the Spanish occupation in San Francisco. In 1808, the Russian ships Kad’yak and Saint Nikolai were sent south from Sitka to establish settlements in California. In 1812, after exploring the area near Bodega Bay, a site was selected 15 miles (24 km) to the north that the Native Kashaya Pomo people called Metini. Metini had a modest anchorage and abundant natural resources and would become the Russian settlement of Fortress Ross. Read more here and here. Explore more of Northwest Cape and Fort Ross here:

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