On August 10, Totma, Vologda Region will celebrate Russian America Day at the same time as Fort Ross in northern California
The second Saturday and Sunday of August, every year at this time, the small town of Totma in Russia’s Vologda Region celebrates Russian America Day at the same time as Fort Ross in northern California, once the southernmost outpost of the Russian empire in the Americas and founded by Totma native Ivan Kuskov.
On this day Totma honours Russian navigators and explorers and the members of the Russian-American Company who founded a series of settlements on America's western coast in the early 19th century, including Fort Ross, founded by Totma merchant Ivan Kuskov in 1812.
In 1812 the first Russian colony appeared in California. Twenty-five Russians along with 80 Aleuts headed by a native of Tot’ma town Ivan Kuskov, Chief Administrator of the Russian-American Company, stepped ashore near the mouth of an unnamed river (which they subsequently named the Slavyanka) and established Fort Ross.
Kuskov made five naval trips to California. On 30 August 1812, the flag of Russia was raised over the completed Fort Ross near what is today San Francisco. Kuskov was able to buy the land where they built the fort for three blanks, three pairs of pants, two axes, three mattocks, and several strings of pearls. The fort was erected in half a year. Ten years later Ivan Kuskov went home, arriving there in 1823 with an Aleut wife. He bought a home, where he died several months later, as the long journey had damaged his health.
Now Kuskov’s former house has been made into a museum full of objects from his California adventures brought by friends of the museum. There is a long-standing friendship between the Totma regional experts and the workers at the Fort Ross museum.
Today, Fort Ross is a national park where visitors can learn about the daily life of the early Russian settlers.
A large celebration program is planned in Tot’ma, with master classes in Russian handicrafts, folklore concerts, theatrical performances and simultaneous bell ringing with Fort Ross.