Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Russia Settlement In The States...!

Sometimes we forget that other countries had designs on the land mass of America, and often made an effort to settle in.

The Russians were one group that had it's sight on America and did their best to get established here. It was tougher than they thought, though. Here's the story of Russia's settlement (or lack there of!).

Feb 2, 1812:
Russians establish Fort Ross

Staking a tenuous claim to the riches of the Far West, Russians establish Fort Ross on the coast north of San Francisco.

As a growing empire with a long Pacific coastline, Russia was in many ways well positioned to play a leading role in the settlement and development of the West. The Russians had begun their expansion into the North American continent in 1741 with a massive scientific expedition to Alaska. Returning with news of abundant sea otters, the explorers inspired Russian investment in the Alaskan fur trade and some permanent settlement. By the early 19th century, the semi-governmental Russian-American Company was actively competing with British and American fur-trading interests as far south as the shores of Spanish-controlled California.

Russia's Alaskan colonists found it difficult to produce their own food because of the short growing season of the far north. Officials of the Russian-American Company reasoned that a permanent settlement along the more temperate shores of California could serve both as a source of food and a base for exploiting the abundant sea otters in the region. To that end, a large party of Russians and Aleuts sailed for California where they established Fort Ross (short for Russia) on the coast north of San Francisco.

Fort Ross, though, proved unable to fulfill either of its expected functions for very long. By the 1820s, the once plentiful sea otters in the region had been hunted almost to extinction. Likewise, the colonists' attempts at farming proved disappointing, because the cool foggy summers along the coast made it difficult to grow the desired fruits and grains. Potatoes thrived, but they could be grown just as easily in Alaska.

At the same time, the Russians were increasingly coming into conflict with the Mexicans and the growing numbers of Americans settling in the region. Disappointed with the commercial potential of the Fort Ross settlement and realizing they had no realistic chance of making a political claim for the region, the Russians decided to sell out. After making unsuccessful attempts to interest both the British and Mexicans in the fort, the Russians finally found a buyer in John Sutter. An American emigrant to California, Sutter bought Fort Ross in 1841 with an unsecured note for $30,000 that he never paid. He cannibalized the fort to provide supplies for his colony in the Sacramento Valley where, seven years later, a chance discovery ignited the California Gold Rush.

Seems like the real estate market was pretty shaky even back then! I'd say that Sutter made out like a bandit on that deal!

Coffee in the kitchen again today. The weather is crazy outside!


Chickenmom said...

Another part of our history to look up. Never knew the Russians were in California! Cold here at 18. I'll bring the Dunkin's.

Mamahen said...

Another bit of history I never knew...Beat you by one degree CM 16 here.....The kitchen sounds good :))

Gorges Smythe said...

I never knew that!

linda m said...

I had heard a rumor that there was a Russian Fort in Northern CA but didn't know it was where Sutter's Mill is today. He did get a deal on that land. Very cold here this morning so coffee in the kitchen is great. Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve.

Rob said...

Ft Ross is on the coast a couple of hours north of San Fran, a nice drive is you ask me. It's a log walled fort on a picturesque cove & a state park I believe.

Sutter's Mill is in Coloma Calif 150-200 miles from Ft Ross, that had to have been a heck of trip (carrying off Ft Ross) in those roadless days!

If you're looking for some place to visit those two would make a nice trip.

27 degrees here in my part of western WA state, the hose to the RV is frozen so coffee is made with water from the onboard tank. I wish I was in Rockport Texas this winter!

Happy New Year everyone!

JO said...

I read about this a long time ago very interesting story.

Not very nice here today either that cold spell is hitting us today and it is cloudy with little sun trying to break through. Rain on the way.

Happy New Years Eve

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
You know how I like to throw something new at ya. Makes history more fun!

Thanks for coming over today!

Always something new to learn, right?

Thanks for the visit today!

Hey Gorges...
Glad I could be the one to bring it to you.

Thanks for stopping by this morning!

Hey Linda M...
And now you know the rest of the they say!

Thanks for dropping in this morning!

Hey Rob...
Sounds like you have your hands full with the cold and ice! Texas would be a lot better for warmth, I'm thinking!

Thanks for the info and for coming over today!

Hey Jo...
I keep telling ya to come down here to Texas.

Thanks, sweetie, for stopping in this morning!

Dizzy-Dick said...

He sure did make out like a bandit since he practically stole that area.