Today, Russian Americans throughout Northern California honor their past by visiting Fort Ross Historic State Park. Hundreds drive up a winding coastal highway to picnic at the park on holidays, and priests still hold occasional services inside the fort's reconstructed Russian Orthodox church.
But the colonial outpost that claims to have established California's first shipyard and windmill is very much at risk of being abandoned by its current caretaker. Fort Ross is among 100 of California's 279 state parks that officials are considering shutting down.
I visited the reconstructed fort years ago and was blown away by the setting. Really a shame to hear this site in danger of being closed down, not just because of its value to Russian Americans.