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Fort Ross 200 anniversary

Fort Ross 200 anniversary

Vologda land is historically connected with North America. It was in XVII century when pioneers fr om old Totma city were already exploring the Northern Sea Route and Eastern Siberia, in XVIII century they were also exploring west coast of America, hunting seals and the black fox in Alaska – this is why it is pictured on the emblem of Totma city.

The name of Totma citizen Ivan Kuskov is associated with the work of founded in 1799 Russian-American campaign who supplied Russian settlements in Alaska. In the spring of 1812 on the coast of North California, on the plateau situated 30 km to the North of Rumyantsev Bay ( now Bodega Bay), he founded a fortified settlement – Fort Ross, which 200 anniversary was celebrated in 2012.

From 2 to 10 April Russian delegation visited celebrations dedicated to 200 anniversary of Bodega Bay city, which was also founded by Ivan Kuskov. The delegation included Julia Erykalova, the director of Totma museum association. Totma museum association closely cooperates with historical and educational society "Russian America" in Moscow and non-governmental organization Friends of Fort Ross in the USA. The expositions of Ivan Kuskov’s house museum and Museum of sailors in Totma reflect the history of Russian America and development of Russian-American ties.

 10 August presentation of Kopylov’s house was being held in Architectural-ethnographic museum of Vologda oblast. This house is a monument to North Russian wood craft, it was brought into a museum from Khorostelovo village of Syamzhensky region. Vasiliy Kopylov, the last owner of the house who handed it over to the museum, is now living in the USA. The house was repaired with the help of Vologda oblast budget and a grant of the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. The final decision to give a grant was triggered by the fact that the house is related to the kind of buildings which were erected in Fort Ross. The intertwinement of histories and cultures of the both states and the destinies of their citizens was the subject of the speech of Mr Brus Turner, a consul general of the USA in St Petersburg, who took the floor at the presentation of the house.

III International festival of traditional American bluegrass music, wh ere both American and Russian musical collectives were participating, took place in Vologda and Totma with the help of General Conculate of the USA in St Petersburg 10-11 August.

The culmination of the 200 anniversary commemorations became celebration of Fort Ross 200 anniversary as well as 875 anniversary of Totma city 11 August 2012. Official congratulations, theatrical performances and Preobrazhenskaya Fair became a bright prelude before the main event of the day – the space bridge between Totma and Fort Ross and ringing of the bells of Entry into Jerusalem church in Totma and of the bell tower on Fort Ross. This “ringing” tradition has already existed for 20 years and serves as a symbol of strong spiritual bond between Vologda land and an island of Russian history and culture “on another edge of the world”.

The documentary film Walking towards the sun by Anatoly Ehalov, a writer and a journalist, and a book Totma, the city of sailors and pioneers: celebrating 200 anniversary of Fort Ross foundation by Ivan Kuskov , edited by Vologda open air museum and Totma museum association, are also dedicated to the jubilee events; the film is about Stanislav Zaitsev, a Totma local historian, who in 1991 made a journey on a wooden ship from Murmansk to the coasts of Alaska, following the way of the brave Totma sailors.

By Svetlana Grishina,
photo of Evgeny Kustov and from archive of cultinfo.ru