The AP has a story about Fort Ross Historic Park under threat of closure because of California state budget problems. (HT: George M.)
Nearly two centuries ago, Russian colonists selected a patch of sloping grassland along California’s rugged North Coast for a new settlement. It was from this spot about 80 miles north of San Francisco that they hoped to harvest Redwoods, grow crops and hunt seals for the lucrative fur trade.
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.
Orthodox Wiki says this in its entry on Holy Trinity Chapel at the fort:
Orthodox Christianity was part of the lives of the Russian, Creole, and Aleut colonists. In early 1820s they expressed their intentions to build a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas at their own expense. The chapel was built within the walls of “Ross Fortress.” The Christians of the colony were helped by the officers and crews of three Russian Navy ships in 1823-1824 who donated a considerable sum for the proposed chapel. The chapel was completed in 1825 and was used by the colonists for reader services.
The chapel was never formally consecrated as no clergymen were permanently assigned to it. In later years a few priests visited the Ross colony and its chapel. Among these priests was Fr. John Veniaminov—later Bishop Innocent of Alaska, then Metropolitan of Moscow, and saint—who spent three months in 1836 at the colony. During this time he visited the Spanish missions in the San Francisco area. The missions he visited were San Raphael, San Jose, Santa Clara, and San Francisco. At the time of his visit, Fr. John recorded that of the population of about 260 at Fort Ross, fifteen percent of the local Indian population living and working in the colony were baptized into the Orthodox Christian faith.