The '''Holy Trinity Chapel''' at Fort Ross, California was part of the Russian colony on the northern coast of California, above San Francisco, during the first half of the nineteenth century. The [[chapel]] was used by the Russians and Aleuts who members of the colony until it was sold in 1841. The Fort Ross site, including the chapel, is now a part of the California State Park System.
The Russian-American Company from Russian America established the ''Ross Colony'' in Northern California in 1812 primarily as an outpost of the Alaskan colony to produce food that could not be produced in the Alaskan coastal climate, and secondarily to extend the hunting range for sea otter pelts along the mid Californian coast.
The original focus of the colony was the stockade,''Ross Fortress'', that was completed on [[September 10]], 1812 with the event marked by a religious ceremony even without the presence of any [[clergy]]. As the colony grew most of the inhabitants began to live and work outside Ross Fortress. All industrial activities were performed outside the stockade by a work force of a mixed ethnic composition. The population of the colony varied but included
upwards of two hundred and fifty Russians, Aleuts, Creoles (children of ethnically mixed unions), and native indians (principally Kashaya, Coast Miwok, and Southern Pomo tribes) , who all worked in general harmony.
colony’s industries included shipbuilding, forging, tanning, and agricultural products including stock raising. While mainly intended for export to the Alaska colony these products became items of trade with the Spanish and Mexicans to the south. As the Californios, as they were called, did virtually no manufacturing, the colony’s production of farm implements and household wares was in great demand. The industrial products were traded with the Spanish and Mexican settlements in California such as San Francisco, Monterey, and as far south as Santa Barbara.
By the 1830s, the political environment along the Pacific coast changed such that more food was available, at lower cost, from farm settlements in Oregon managed by the
Hudson’s Bay Company, and the economic value of the Ross Colony, that wasn’t able to supply sufficient food for Alaska, began to wane. By 1839, the Russian-American Company decided to abandon the colony. The colony was sold in 1841 to Captain Johann Augustus Sutter, and the last colonists sailed for Sitka on [[January 1]], 1842.
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 of Myra|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 [[consecration of a church|consecrated]] as no clergymen were permanently assigned to it. In later years a few [[priest]]s visited the Ross colony and its chapel. Among these priests was Fr. [[Innocent of Alaska|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.
The genuine cooperation among the three diverse cultures at Fort Ross, among native Californians, native Alaskans, Creoles, and Russians, was attributed by some to the Orthodox Christian religious values instilled in many of the colonists by the Orthodox clergy of Russian America.
*Hector Chevigny, ''Russian America - The Great Alaskan Venture 1741-1867'', The Viking Press, New York, 1965
==External link==*[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Ross Fort Ross, California]
[[Category: Church History]][[Category: Churches]]