A new book about the Russian settlement at Fort Ross creates a multi-faceted picture of life there, through dozens of original documents from leaders, visitors and observers of the outpost.
When the Russians and the Spanish first encountered each other in northern California, they struggled to communicate with each other, relates Glenn J. Farris, editor of the new historic anthology about the history of Fort Ross, So Far From Home. Ultimately, they found linguistic common ground in Latin, but the accuracy of those three-way translations is often uncertain or worse. So he's learned when to sidestep the unreliable aspects of those accounts.
Another reason that few written accounts of life at Fort Ross have been found in Russia may be that native Russians were actually a small part of the population there. Native hunters from Alaska brought south by the Russians were more numerous, Farris explains, but much of what is known about their lives came through their interactions with the indigenous people of the North Coast.
Fort Ross plays host to an all-day Harvest Festival tomorrow, including the unveiling of a full-size replica of the wooden windmill that was once part of the outpost.Details on the event are here.