|Lady Washington||Russian Possession Plaque||Tot'ma|
The food shortage at Sitka, Alaska, in the winter of 1805-1806 forced the Russian American Company to look for more temperate climates to grow food and hunt sea otter, prized in the fur trade. That search took Russian explorers down the Pacific Coast, especially to California, looking for suitable harbors and locations to start an agricultural settlement.
Russian sea otter hunters first came to California on board American otter-hunting ships as early as 1803, and first entered Bodega Bay in 1807 aboard the American ship Peacock, which took in 1,231 otter skins. On board the Peacock was Vasili Tarakhanov, Russian supervisor for the Aleut otter hunters, who saw the potential of Bodega Bay as a port and reported that back to his superiors in Sitka.
That’s how in 1809, commercial counselor Ivan A. Kuskov, representing the Russian American Company, ended up in Bodega Bay. His ship was the “Kad’iak” and with him onboard were 150 Aleut hunters, including 20 women, and a Russian force of 40 men. They settled at what is now Campbell Cove and named it Port Rumiantsev. It remained so until 1841.
At Campbell Cove, Kuskov and his people built a number of structures to warehouse dry goods and food supplies (some of the warehouse foundations could still be seen on the Gaffney ranch in 1949). They also built a few houses, a large bath house, various huts and corrals and had a number of small boats for servicing ships in the outer bay. They were also successful in hunting otter. After 10 months they returned to Sitka with 2350 sea otter pelts.
It was the custom of the Russians to secretly bury a Russian Possession Plaque wherever they settled land. One such plaque is believed to have been buried at Campbell Cove.
It was one of 20 buried by Russian explorers along the Alaska and Pacific coast, to formally mark Russia’s claim to the land. The plaques read “Land of Russia.” Each plaque had a separate number. With the exact location of burial sites now lost, it might only be through accident that additional plates come to light. The number for Bodega Bay was 14.
On March 15, 1812, Ivan A. Kuskov returned to Port Rumiantsev on the “Chirikov”. He brought with him 20 Russians and 80 Aleutian natives and a ship full of supplies to begin the journey north to build Fort Ross, 24 miles north of Bodega Bay in Kashaya Pomo country.
They named the colony Fortress Ross. Though there was some tension with the Spanish and later Mexican governments – which claimed ownership of California all the way up to present day south east Alaska -- the Russians remained until 1842. Much later in history, the fort became a designated National Historic Landmark and is known today as Fort Ross State Historic Park, often visited by Russian scholars and tourists
To honor the memory of Ivan A. Kuskov, Bodega Bay has a sister city relationship with Tot’ma in Russia, the birthplace of Kuskov and a city known for its many beautiful churches. That city goes back to 1137.
Origin of Rumiantsev Name
Port Rumiantsev was named after Count Nikolay Petrovich Rumyantsev, Russia’s Minister of Commerce and later Foreign Minister, who influenced early Russian American Company affairs.
He was part of the nobility and aristocracy and funded Russia’s first naval circumnavigation in 1803-1806 as well as later expeditions seeking scientific information on the flora and fauna of California and ethnographic information about native Californians.
Russians Collected and named California Poppy
Russian voyagers in the early 1800s were among the first to record California’s unique cultural and natural history. The Russian circumnavigation by the brig Riurik (1815-1818) under the command of Fleet Lieutenant Otto von Kotzebue, had on board the naturalists Friedrich Eschscholtz and Adelbert von Chamisso, and the artist Louis Choris. They recorded hundreds of species found in the San Francisco Bay area including the California poppy, Eschscholtzia californica, so named by Adelbert von Chamisso for a fellow naturalist.
Thursday, March 15 - Anniversary Day: Special anniversary post mark at the Bodega Bay Post Office
Flag Day - Fly Russian American Company flag
Tuesday, April 3-10: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain tall ships visit for Public Tours at Spud Point Marina
Thursday, April 5:
Friday, April 6:
Saturday, April 7:
Weekend of April 28-29: "Oceans Reign" 39th Annual Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival celebrating Port
Rumiantsev, Westside Park 10AM-6PM on Saturday and 10AM-5PM on Sunday.
On display at the Festival and the Tides Wharf will be Russian Navy longboats from Boat Base Monterey and displays from the Traditional Small Craft Association with examples of traditional boats used by Native, Alaskan, Russian, English and American ships that visited Bodega Bay in the 18th and 19th centuries and fished in her waters into the 20th century.
PORT RUMIANTSEV, March 15, 1812 – The Russian-American Company schooner, Chirikov, dropped anchor at Campbell Cove today. The vessel is delivering hardware and other supplies needed for construction of an agricultural and trading settlement to be known as Fortress Ross, 24 miles north of here.
On board is RAC’s commercial counselor Ivan A. Kuskov, 47, leading a party of 25 skilled craftsmen and 80 Native Alaskans. They comprise the initial work crew to begin building the Russian empire’s most southern settlement on the Pacific Coast.
Arrival of Lady Washington Highlights Port Rumiantsev Anniversary Celebration
The Lady Washington is a replica of itself when she traded in the Pacific waters in the late 1700s.
She is also a replica of the Chirikov, which arrived here March 15, 1812, when Bodega Bay was known as Port Rumiantsev. The Lady Washington is out of Gray’s Harbor, Washington, an historical seaport. She will visit Bodega Bay April 4-9, 2012, as part of her winter transit, returning north from San Francisco.
Coordinator: Adri G. Boudewyn, Rancho Bodega Historical Society
Maritime Coordinator: John Middleton
Logo design: Evelina Phemister
Signage and print coordinator: Shona L. Weir
Photography: John Hershey
Cultural advisor: Congress of Russian Americans
Web site design: Linda McBee
Official poet: Jackie Pels
Telling others: www.flashpointpr.com
Bodega Bay Area Chamber of Commerce
Bodega Bay Elementary School
Bodega Bay Grange
Bodega Bay Fisherman‘s Festival
Bodega Bay Post Office
Inn at The Tides
Rancho Bodega Historical Society (RBHS)
UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab
Bodega Bay Area Chamber of Commerce
Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival
Bodega Bay Grange
Rancho Bodega Historical Society
UCDavis Bodega Marine Lab
Fort Ross State Park
District of Tot’ma
Maritime Russian California History
Tot'ma, Russia (Bodega Bay's sister city since October, 1998, and the birthplace of Ivan A. Kuskov) is one of the ancient Russian cities, dating back to 1137. It is the administrative center of Tot'ma municipality of Vologda Oblast. It is situated on the bank of the Sukhona River and has a population of 10,338 people. It is known for its many beautiful churches. A black Aleut fox in a gold field is in the city coat of arms as the city inhabitants hunted fur-bearing animals. Tot'ma is called as a city of navigators. More than 20 expeditions were equipped for exploring the Pacific Ocean by Tot'ma merchants, who as a consequence of these travels provided one fifth of all the fur skins used in Europe in centuries past.
Limited Edition Russian Nesting Doll Sets commissioned by Rancho Bodega Historical Society (RBHS) to commemorate Bodega Bay history as a former Russian harbor from 1809-1842.
The dolls (tallest 5-1/2") are hand-painted with a lacquer finish. Each nesting doll set comes with the story of our Russian history.
To pre-order send a check + your e-mail and telephone number to:
Adri G. Boudewyn, P.O.Box 956, Bodega Bay, CA 94923. email@example.com
Price for each set is a donation of $20 when you pick up in Bodega Bay (you will be notified where to pick up) or $25 if shipping is required.
Russian-American Company flag made in Russia. Three by five feet. $40.
Most historically accurate design available today*. Based on the original 1806 decree of Tsar Alexander I. Produced in cooperation with Russia America Society in Moscow. 100% long-wearing polyester suitable for outdoor use. Both a sleeve for a staff and loops for hoisting on a flag pole.
* For historical background visit:
For ordering information contact:
John Middleton, P.O.Box 40, Jenner, CA 95450. 707-847-3924 firstname.lastname@example.org