Sonoma County Events Newsletter
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IN THIS ISSUE:
If you are visiting the Sonoma County area in April here is our recommendation of interesting things to see and do:teresting things to see and do:
April 6 -- Winemakers' Dinner at Madrona Manor
April 8 - 9 -- Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival
April 15 - 16 -- Apple Blossom Festival
April 16 -- Historic Homes Walking Tour
April 23 -- Easter Sunrise Mass at Cline Cellars
April 29 - 30 -- April in Carneros - Open House Extavaganza
"An otter pelt brought four times the price of sable in the fur markets of Manchuria."(1)
After 59 years of hunting there were few otter left off the coasts of Alaska and Canada. In 1812, 25 Russians, along with 80 Aleut natives (who hunted the otter in seal-skin kayaks, one is on display at the Fort Ross Museum) established a year-round base on the northern coast of what would become Sonoma County at "Ross," an ancient term for Russia.
(As an aside, the otters you see along the coast of California today are descended from a small colony re-discovered in the Big Sur area around 1900 http://www.mbayaq.org/aa/aa_pressroom/pr_otter_facts_pr.html.)
While Spain claimed this part of the West Coast, their military resources were insufficient to deter the Russians.
They traveled all over the county and made Rumiantsevof Bay their home, now known as Bodega Bay. (Incidentally, Bodega Bay is named after Lieutenant Juan Francisco Bodega y Cuadra who was looking for San Francisco Bay on October 3, 1775.)
When the otter population declined they took to farming; it was Russians that imported the first grapevines to Sonoma County from Peru in 1817, as well as pear, cherry and apple trees. They gave the state flower its botanical name: Eschscholtzia Californica, our California Poppy, after the visiting Russian naturalist Johan Eschscholz in 1816. They even named Mount Saint Helena after Princess Elena Gagarina, the wife of the final commondant of Ross, Alezander Rotchev.
If you are spending a day or two on the coast, Fort Ross is a very interesting place to visit
(http://www.cal-parks.ca.gov/DISTRICTS/russian/frshp207.htm), plan to wander around looking at the exhibits and buildings for 3 hours (bring water and a sandwich). It's located 12 miles north of the town of Jenner - keep in mind it's 12 miles of spectacular ocean views on a narrow, curvy road. Pull over and look at the view, smell the salt air. Imagine yourself back in that era. Make a day of it. Book lodging on the coast:
If you look carefully along the hills on the drive you will see an occasional Russian Orthodox chapel. If you can't get to Fort Ross this month here's a site that describes how to make the beautiful dyed eggs called pysanky, also known as Ukrainian Easter Eggs: http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/amorash/ukregg.html.
1.) Unless otherwise noted by referring URLs, the facts for this article are from "Sonoma County The River of Time" by Simone Wilson, published by American Historical Press c.1999.
We encourage your feedback, please send your comments to our newsletter editor, Karla Noyes: mailto:email@example.com Suggestions of topics you would like to see in future issues are welcome.
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