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Book Books Ghost Reading Books Lovers Halloween Pa Ornament | Artistshot

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Artist Profile - Regorgeous | Artistshot

By Regorgeous

If you want to see more amazing arts like this, go to the artist profile "Regorgeous" and discover your new purchase!


The design is printed in both sides, front and back

2 sided HD aluminum creative border ornament includes a red satin ribbon for hanging. Ornaments are scratch-resistant, fingerprint-free, antireflective and offer an artistic quality surface.

  • Overall Size: 2.75" Diameter x .045" thick
  • Color: Gloss White
  • Material: Aluminum

Book Books Ghost Reading Books Lovers Halloween Pa | Artistshot

ID 24519869 This Book Books Ghost Reading Books Lovers Halloween Pa is available in a vast array of color options, and offers a simplistic but eye-catching design on the front. If you're a fan of Book Books Ghost Reading Books Lovers Halloween Pa , then this design is definitely the one for you! You can find this design available on any style from a ladies fitted shirt to a men's crewneck sweatshirt.

Print Technique

Sublimation is a process of printing to fabric (and other substances) that provides the best quality, most durable printing option. In sublimation, the inks are fused into the fabric as opposed to sitting on top of the basic such as in inkjet or screen printing. The process not only gives fabrics a softer touch after the printing, but it is also very durable. The color remains strong in outdoor lighting and after extensive washing so it’s the ideal process for All Over Men's T-Shirt.

Everything on the Artistshot Marketplace is printed just for you, so a lot of thought goes into the way each item is made and shipped. We work with a global team of manufacturers and shipping partners to get your order from the site to your door.

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Book Books Ghost Reading Books Lovers Halloween Pa License Plate | Artistshot

Book Books Ghost Reading Books Lovers Halloween Pa...

Book Books Ghost Reading Books Lovers Halloween Pa License Plate Frame | Artistshot

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Book Boo Ghost Christmas Ornament Christmas Tree – Funny Boo Ornament Keepsake

$ 19.99 – $ 111.94

Custom Shaped Wooden Christmas Decorative Ornament:

The Wooden Ornaments are beautiful and cute conform to Christmas theme. Perfect for crafting and decorating.

Each Christmas Wooden Ornament measures 3.5in diameter x 0.1in thickness.

You can customize ornament according to the shape and personalize the content engraved on ornaments (name, date, birthday …)

Each wooden slice has a small hole that can be threaded with your string, ribbon or lace for you to hang up easily.

These shaped wooden ornaments are made of natural wood, lightweight and durable. Our wooden ornaments have Natural Wood color; both sides are sanded to a smooth finish.

These wooden ornaments conform to the Christmas theme and winter atmosphere, really suitable for Christmas and winter party decoration. Ideal for hangers, tags, card making, embellishments, scrapbooking, decoupage, sign making, plaques, and many other art and craft projects.

Note: Due to the ornaments made of wood, there may be slight variations such as wood grain, texture, cut marks, color, etc.


Custom shaped plastic christmas decorative ornament:.

Premium Material: The Christmas Ornaments are made of high-quality mica plastic, lightweight, smooth surface, waterproof, durable, non-toxic, no bad smells, and harmless for kids.

Each Plastic Ornaments has a string for you to hang them easily.  Only need to pass the rope in the product through the small hole on the Christmas hanging ornaments, knot it, and hang it in the place where it needs to be decorated. Or after you have decided where you want to hang the Christmas hanging ornaments, simply tie the Plastic Ornaments and twine to it. You can adorn your table, desk, or counter or your bag and keychain with this adorable party decoration.

If you have any questions or special requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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Let’s Shop Book Boo Ghost Christmas Ornament Christmas Tree – Funny Boo Ornament Keepsake!

Are you spending too much time to find creative merchandise for you or suitable & special gifts for your mommy, your daddy, your son, your daughter, your children, your friends or someone you love? The struggle is over because we have various Book Boo Ghost Ornament, Book Boo Ornament, Book Christmas Ornament, Funny Boo Christmas Ornament, Funny Book Ghost Ornament, Book Ghost Ornament which will make perfect presents for your beloveds. In order to make your present stand out, we have created lots of unique and awesome customized photo gifts & personalized designs .

This product is a best gift for special occasions and holidays, such as Anniversary, Wedding, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Day. Show your loved one how much you love them to the moon and back!

At CubeBik , besides custom shaped Christmas Ornaments / personalized die cut Christmas Ornaments , we also offer tees, hoodies, sweaters, raglans, tanks, wall arts, canvases, posters, mugs, blankets, engraved jewelry, personalized necklaces, flags, throw pillows, tote bags, hats, accessories and more on our website, so do not miss our other Book Boo Ghost Ornament, Book Boo Ornament, Book Christmas Ornament, Funny Boo Christmas Ornament, Funny Book Ghost Ornament, Book Ghost Ornament related merchandise . Moreover, all the products are made-to-order and one of a kind custom designs you can’t get elsewhere in normal stores. Let’s discover now and find your favorite personalized items. We can’t wait to surprise and build beautiful memories with you and your loved ones.

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Black Girl With LGBT Flag Kicking Trump Washable Reusable Custom – Printed Cloth Face Mask Cover

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I Don't Always Listen to My Grandpa But When I Do We Always Get In Trouble T-Shirt For Kids

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Grandpa's To Do List Pick Up Grandkids Spoil Them Load With Sugar Then Send Them Home T-Shirt Funny Gifts For Poppop

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The Only Thing Necessary For The Triumph Of Evil Is For Good People To Do Nothing RBG Framed Canvas - Unframed Poster

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Sleepy Hollow Dead and Breakfast Garden Flag - House Flag - Wall Flag - Halloween Yard Flag

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Red Cardinal A Big Piece Of My Heart Lives In Heaven Personalized Memorial Garden Flag - In Loving Memory House Flag

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Not Tonight Ladies I'm Just Here To Get Drunk Funny T-Shirt - Drinking Shirt for Men

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Michael Myers Just The Tip I Promise Halloween T-Shirt - Funny Halloween T-Shirt - Halloween Killer T-Shirt

Listen To The Wind It Talks Listen To The Silence It Speaks Listen To Your Heart It Knows T-Shirt

Listen To The Wind It Talks Listen To The Silence It Speaks Listen To Your Heart It Knows T-Shirt

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All I Need Is Beer And My Cat It Is Too Peopley Outside Black Cat Vintage T-Shirt - Black Cat And Beer Shirt

My adult daughter loved the T-shirt! End of story.

At Times I Think To Myself Drop The Book And Get Stuff Done T-Shirt - Cute Owl Reading Books Shirt

I’m not a morning person. Give me coffee and don’t talk to me for a little while. I have two friends who are morning talkers. We get along because they know I’m not listening. Getting this cup in the mail they both knew who it came from. They liked the cup. Other than the picture and wording, it’s just a regular coffee cup.

Rooster and Yet Despite the Look on My Face You're Still Talking Coffee Mug - Travel Mug - Water Bottle

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I'm Not The Step Dad I'm Just The Dad That Stepped Up Motorcycle Print On Back T-Shirt - Plain Front Shirt

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Personalized Keep Gate Closed No Matter What The Cows Tell You Decorative Metal Sign - Outdoor Decor Farmhouse

This mug was exactly what I was looking for, came exactly as I expected and came quickly.

Funny Animal Ceramic Coffee Mug - I Do What I Want Raccoon Beer Stein Mug - Water Bottle

The Devil Saw Me With My Head Down and Thought He'd Won Until I Said Amen Veteran Plain Front Print On Back T-Shirt

The Devil Saw Me With My Head Down and Thought He'd Won Until I Said Amen Veteran Plain Front Print On Back T-Shirt

Good quality and easy tracking. Really happy with my shirt.

Fuck Trump American Sign Language T-Shirt - Patriotic ASL Gifts Shirt

I saved the image on my phone for 2 years and when we redecorated it was the perfect picture 💙 thank you.

Hairdresser When You Enter This Salon You Are Amazing Wonderful Framed Canvas Prints - Unframed Poster

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To My Mother In Law You've Meant So Much To Me Thank You Ceramic Coffee Mug - Mother In Law Gifts From Bride

A very well made item.

A French Bulldog's House Rules Gallery Wrapped Framed Canvas - Unframed Poster - Home Decor Wall Art

Jack Skellington and Sally I Choose You and I Will Choose You Over and Over and Over Forever Love Pendant Necklace

Jack Skellington and Sally I Choose You and I Will Choose You Over and Over and Over Forever Love Pendant Necklace

The product was exactly as shown in the advert and was a good quality shirt with good printing.

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It is comfy and cute!

White Christmas Sisters Sisters There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters Hoodie - Sweatshirt

Exactly as advertised. I like the design and sturdy yet lightweight framing underneath. Item arrived sooner than expected, which I really appreciate. CubeBik communicates very well at all stages of the order process

Even When It's Not Pretty or Perfect Even It's More Real Michelle Obama Inspirational Framed Canvas - Unframed Poster

My wife really enjoyed receiving this necklace. It looks great and the delivery was timely.

To My Gorgeous Wife When I Tell You I Love You I Don't Say It Out Of Habit Firefighter Love Knot Necklace

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Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

Our Verdict


by Namit Arora ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 20, 2019

A cleverly written tale with a social conscience featuring themes of family, inclusiveness, racial divides, and the...

A young man contemplates West Coast life and his technology career in Silicon Valley while family and interpersonal tensions simmer. 

This novel by an author, essayist, travel photographer, and former computer engineer follows India-born Ved, a disillusioned, soft-skilled marketing manager. Ved works at the multinational computer networking behemoth Omnicon. At 36, considered “late middle age in Silicon Valley terms,” he has become restless and anxious to venture elsewhere. His three-year tenure with the tech firm is already stale. Mostly unattached throughout his 15 years in America, he begins dating Liz, whom he met on an online matchmaking site. She’s a spiritually conscious woman who is the polar opposite of Sasha, a 28-year-old Russian escort who satisfies Ved’s carnal needs until real romance can break through the monotony of singledom. More dates with Liz open up their personalities further and explore their differing opinions on contentious issues alongside an amusingly silly intimate moment involving a scene-stealing moth. Still, Ved’s own internal concerns over death, aging, and whether or not he will grow old alone make the narrative relatable. Meanwhile, he contemplates his future while reuniting with his graduation buddies from India who perceive his life to be more exciting and provocative than it really is, callously calling him “too much of a California liberal, with too many un-Indian tastes and manners.” After several chapters of interoffice melodrama that threaten to dampen the novel’s pace, Arora ( The Lottery of Birth , 2017) ratchets up the intensity with a plot twist involving a visit from Ved’s parents. Obsessed with their son’s health and happiness, they share updates on the state of modern India and impart their wisdom and opinions on American culture, which contort and challenge Ved’s ever eroding resolve about remaining in the United States. A vicious hate crime assault happens while Ved and his parents venture out together. This strikes terror in their hearts, and his parents draw their own conclusions as Ved’s overall impression of his safety in California is called into question. Light on plot but engrossing nevertheless, the book keeps the momentum flowing as Ved tries to enjoy working for a sinking company he doesn’t particularly support or like while processing the abundant emotions linked to suffering an attack for being an Indian immigrant in America. Arora’s narrative is structurally sound and capably written, with a protagonist who is endearing. Ved will give pop fiction readers someone to cheer for as he navigates the precarious world of online dating, job dissatisfaction, and, perhaps most socially significant and politically relevant, the rampant discrimination and violent racism coursing through the streets of America. Indian culture is knowledgeably and effectively personified through Ved’s character as the story explores the nature of the immigrant journey in the United States: how it shapes lives and can make or break both personal and professional experiences.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-950437-83-2

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Adelaide Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Review Program: Kirkus Indie


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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2006

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah ( The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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by Kristin Hannah



by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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by Harper Lee

More About This Book

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The Atlas Heart


17 Best Ghost Towns in California, from Spooky Old Gold Rush Towns to Abandoned Cities

ghost towns in california

We’ve compiled the best ghost towns in California for those who love eerie old gold rush history.

If you love ghost towns, you’ll love exploring California . The region’s gold rush history gives the Golden State a uniquely high number of ghost towns. 

These towns sprung up quickly to support the mining industry but promptly fell to ruins as soon as the mines dried up.

Getting to these ghost towns isn’t as hard as you might think. Many of them are just off the highway, and four of them exist today as state parks. 

I love ghost towns because I enjoy digging into California history (pardon the pun), and there are actually a bunch of California ghost towns within driving distance of where I live. 

In this article, I’ve brought you the best ghost towns in California. Plus, how to get to each one and where to stay nearby.

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

California ghost towns

Table of Contents

Map of Ghost Towns in California

#1 Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie State Historic Park

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s one of California’s most famous ghost towns. Address : Highway 270, Bridgeport, CA 93517 How to get there: Turn east onto Bodie Road off Highway 395, seven miles south of Bridgeport, CA. Bodie State Historic Park is 13 miles down the road.  Nearby accommodation: Lundy Canyon Campground (28 mi), Lake View Lodge (32 mi)

Bodie State Historic Park may be one of California’s most famous mining towns. Bodie ghost town is situated south of Bridgeport, CA and north of Lee Vining, CA. 

William (Waterman) S. Bodey founded Bodie in 1859 after discovering a modest amount of gold in the hills around the town. By 1880, the city had grown to almost 10,000 and was famously lawless.

During the town’s heyday, there were a reported 65 saloons, not to mention several brothels and gambling halls. 

Today the Wild West town is preserved in a state of “arrested decay” as a state park. 

You can take a guided tour of Bodie Ghost Town or meander on your own with a self-guided walking tour among the 200 remaining buildings. 

One of the neat things about Bodie Ghost Town is that some old buildings still have furniture and supplies. 

For instance, the general store remains stocked the way it was in 1964 when Bodie became a state historical landmark.

Looking to visit more state parks? Reference our complete list of California state parks .

#2 Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site

Why it’s worth visiting : Learn the US’s history of Japanese internment camps. Address : Manzanar National Historic Site, 5001 Highway 395, Independence, CA 93526 How to get there : Go nine miles north of Lone Pine, CA or six miles south of Independence, CA. The historic site is on the west side of Highway 395. Nearby accommodation : Independence Creek Campground (6.7 mi), Mt. Williamson Motel and Basecamp (5.8 mi)

Manzanar National Historic Site isn’t your typical California ghost town because it isn’t related to the gold rush. 

During World War II, the United States Government interned over 100,000 Japanese immigrants and American citizens of Japanese descent at war relocation centers around the country. Manzanar National Historic Site was one of 10 camps. 

Up to 10,000 people lived in internment at Manzanar during the war in long barracks with a mess hall and a community building. 

While the residents were more or less free to walk around the compound, armed guards patrolled the entire exterior. 

I’ve visited Manzanar National Historic Site, which is well worth the stop. The park rangers have converted the old community hall into a visitor center. 

The interpretive panels do a fantastic job of paying homage to this horrible chapter in American history. 

You can also walk inside some of the original living quarters, check out the cemetery, or make the self-guided driving loop.

#3 Empire Mine State Historic Park

Empire Mine State Historic Park

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s one of the “oldest, deepest, and richest gold mines in California.” Address : 10791 East Empire Street, Grass Valley, CA 95945 How to get there : Take Highway 49 24 miles north of Auburn, CA.  Nearby accommodation :  Inn Town Campground (4.1 mi), Flume’s End (4.6 mi)

Empire Mine State Historic Park might be my favorite of the ghost towns in Northern California. 

Empire Mine State Park is one of California’s most famous ghost towns because it preserves an enormous old mining operation: the Empire Mine. 

This old mine was operational from 1850-1956 and extracted 5.8 million ounces of gold.

The most mind-blowing fact about the Empire Mine was that it had 367 miles of tunnels in its heyday. That’s about the same driving distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles!

Today, the mines are closed and flooded, but you can still peer down the old mine shaft to the high water mark. 

The mine’s original owner, William Bourne Jr., was one of the wealthiest men in the United States at the time, and his lavish estate remains immaculately preserved.

If you visit, take a guided tour of the estate, the gardens, and the mineyard. 

The blacksmith shop is still on display and features six modern blacksmiths demonstrating early 1900s metalworking techniques.

Fun fact : Empire Mine had a “Secret Room” underground where the foremen kept a working model of the mine to help them manage the digging. Today you can see the model in the visitor center.

#4 Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

Why it’s worth visiting : Witness the legacy of hydraulic mining and learn about the first environmental lawsuit in the US. Address : 23579 North Bloomfield Rd, Nevada City, CA 95959  How to get there : Take Highway 40 for 11 miles toward Downieville. Turn right onto Tyler Foote Road and follow the signs for the park. Nearby accommodation : Chute Hill Campground (in the park), North Bloomfield Cabins (in the park)

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park preserves a unique moment in environmental history in the United States. 

The Diggins site employed hydraulic mining, which uses blasts of water to wash away an entire mountain. 

The resulting hillside looks slightly like the sandstone hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park (albeit smaller). 

The disastrous environmental consequences of hydraulic mining eventually led to the first environmental lawsuit in the United States. 

Today, you can explore 20 miles of trails around Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park or stop in at the visitor center or the museum, both of which are open seven days a week. 

Malakoff Diggins State Park is northwest of Lake Tahoe and northeast of Nevada City, CA. It’s also very close to Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. 

While Malakoff Diggins preserves the remains of the mining site, the ghost town where those miners lived was North Bloomfield. 

Founded in 1851, North Bloomfield was previously called Humbug, a slang term for a place where miners had struck out. 

You can walk around the remaining buildings of North Bloomfield and also spend the night in a few of the cabins.

Note : Don’t follow your GPS to get here if you want to stay on a paved road. See the park website or follow my instructions above.

#5 Shasta State Historic Park

Shasta State Historic Park

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s an easy stop off the highway! Address : 15312 Highway 299 West, Shasta, CA 96087 How to get there : Take Highway 299, six miles west of Redding, CA. Nearby accommodation : Sheep Camp Primitive Campground (2.5 mi), Americana Modern Hotel (10.4 mi)

If you’re visiting Redding, CA, you should stop at Shasta State Historic Park . 

Just six miles from nearby Redding, Shasta State Historic Park preserves the former “Queen City” of northern mining towns. 

Shasta, or “Old Shasta,” hit its boom shortly aft 1848, when pioneers discovered gold. 

The gold mining town was an important transportation hub for coach and train travel until 1873 when the new Central Pacific Railroad bypassed the town.  

Shasta State Park is one of the most accessible California ghost towns because it’s so close to a major city (Redding) and right off the highway.

In addition to the state park, take time to explore the restored Courthouse Museum (open Thurs-Sun), have a picnic next to the Pioneer Barn , or visit the Blumb Bakery for 1870’s style baking demonstrations.

#6 Cerro Gordo, CA

Cerro Gordo, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s the silver mine that built Los Angeles Address : Cerro Gordo Rd, Keeler, CA 93530 How to get there : From CA State Rt 136, turn east onto Cerro Gordo Rd. Nearby accommodation :  Diaz Lake Campground (22.6 mi), Dow Villa Motel (22.4 mi)

The Cerro Gordo silver mining town is north of Death Valley National Park and southeast of Lone Pine, CA. 

“Cerro Gordo” means “fat hill” in Spanish, and that’s precisely what it was in its heyday. In fact, this authentic silver mine helped create Los Angeles. 

An 1872 edition of the Los Angeles News reported, “… Cerro Gordo trade is invaluable. What Los Angeles is now is mainly due to it. It is the silver cord that binds our present existence. ”

However, like all mining operations, the Cerro Gordo mines eventually dried up. 

Today Cerro Gordo is privately owned, with a dozen buildings and scattered mining equipment. You can visit this abandoned town in California by booking a tour on their website.

#7 Keeler, CA

Keeler, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : See the remains of the Cerro Gordo tramway GPS coordinates : 36.488986657100895, -117.87394902392703 How to get there : Go 15 miles south of Lone Pine, CA, on Ste Rte 136 Nearby accommodation : Dow Villa Motel (14.6 mi), Panamint Springs Resort (35.8 mi)

Keeler ghost town, formerly known as Hawley, is another quasi-ghost town in California with around 60 remaining residents. 

Keeler’s development was due to the nearby Cerro Gordo mine, and its success tracked with the mine and Owens Lake. Sadly, both the mine and the lake have seen better times. 

Owens Lake once covered 100 square miles but diminished significantly after they diverted its main feeder river to provide water for Los Angeles. 

At its peak, Keeler had a population of about 2,500. It was the southern terminus for the Carson and Colorado Railroad service, and the abandoned train depot is a popular fixture. 

Keeler also had a bustling public pool, which is drained and abandoned today.

One of Keeler’s most unique ghost town features is the Cerro Gordo tramway, built to move ore from the Cerro Gordo mines. The tramway is broken off mid-air in an almost theatrical way.

#8 Ballarat, CA

Ballarat, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : See the gravesite of famous prospectors “Shorty” Harris and “Seldom Seen Slim.” GPS coordinates : Ballarat Rd, Trona, CA 93592 How to get there : Turn east on Trona-Wildrose Rd (CA-178). Ballarat is 3.6 miles from the turnoff. Nearby accommodation : Panamint Springs Resort (29.5 mi, has tent camping and hotel accommodations)

If you’re looking for a lonely, dusty California ghost town with a spooky feeling, check out Ballarat. 

Located south of the Panamint Springs Entrance to Death Valley National Park, Ballarat sprang up in 1896. But by 1917, it had fallen into disrepair. 

The town’s most famous residents were Shorty Harris and Seldom Seen Slim. These men were the last of the Rainbow Seekers, prospectors from the Mojave. 

When Seldom Seen Slim died in 1968, they broadcasted his eulogy nationwide. The epitaph on his gravestone reads, “Me lonely? Hell no! I’m half coyote and half wild burro.”

More infamous short-time residents of Ballarat were Charles Manson and his family. Today you can see an abandoned truck that belonged to Manson. 

Ballarat isn’t entirely abandoned today–there’s one resident and his dog who run a small general store.

Fun fact : An Australian immigrant gave Ballarat its name after a town of the same name in Australia’s gold mining country.

#9 Darwin, CA

Darwin, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : Hit up Ballarat, Darwin, and Keeler on the same road trip! GPS coordinates : 36.267976126691615, -117.59186346193034 How to get there : From Hwy 190 into Death Valley National Park, turn right onto Darwin Rd. The town is just a few miles down the road.  Nearby accommodation : Dow Villa Motel (37.8 mi), Panamint Springs Resort (23.6 mi)

Named after Darwin French, the ghost town of Darwin was an early miner/pioneer who discovered lead and silver deposits in the area in 1874. 

As the story goes, French was part of an expedition from the east. By the time his party reached eastern California, they were desperately hungry and without a working gun. A Native American man saved them when he fixed it with a silver gunsight. 

French returned to the area years later in search of the “Gunsight Mine.” While he never found the exact mine he was looking for, he still discovered enough to make the settlement prosper. 

Darwin had two ore smelters within just a few years, 20 mining operations, a post office, a drug store, and 200 houses.

Darwin had around 3,500 residents at its peak, making it the largest town in Inyo County until 1878 when smallpox decimated the community. 

Today, there are still around 35 residents of Darwin, making it more of a quasi-ghost town. If you visit Darwin, please be respectful of any private property or keep out signs.

#10 Panamint City, CA

Panamint City, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s a well-preserved ghost town if you can reach it. GPS coordinates : 36.11755413766455, -117.09524686931712 How to get there : Strenuous (15 miles, 3,600 ft elevation gain) hike up Surprise Canyon in Death Valley National Park. Start the hike at Chris Wicht’s Camp, six miles north of Ballarat. Nearby accommodation : ( Panamint Springs Resort (30.5 mi from Chris Wicht Camp Parking)

Panamint City is one of the California ghost towns inside Death Valley National Park . As the story goes, outlaws discovered silver there while using Surprise Canyon as a hiding place. 

Regardless of who found the silver, then-senator William Steward invested in the project, and the town was born in 1873. 

The silver mines in Panamint City once employed 2,000 people for the short boom period of 1873-1875. 

Like many ghost towns from the California gold rush , the city was exceptionally lawless. The Death Valley website calls it “the toughest, rawest, most hard-boiled little hellhole that ever passed for a civilized town.” 

In 1876, a flash flood destroyed much of the town and residents moved away.

Today Panamint City is accessible via a hot and strenuous hike (See OutdoorProject’s hiking description ). Once there, you’ll see the remains of the mile-long Main Street, which included saloons and a red-light district. 

Due to the remoteness of the hike, the historic buildings and mining equipment are well-preserved.

#11 Rhyolite, NV

Rhyolite, NV

Why it’s worth visiting : It was the biggest mining town in the Death Valley area. GPS coordinates : 36.90183679549815, -116.82811700014577 How to get there : Go four miles west of Beatty, NV Nearby accommodation : Spicer Ranch (informal camping, 13.2 mi), Death Valley Inn and RV Park (6 mi)

Ok, I know this article is supposed to be the best ghost towns in *California*, but I had to include Rhyolite. It was one of the most significant mining settlements of its day and it’s a stone’s throw from the California border. 

Plus, it’s a neat stop if you’re making a road trip from Las Vegas. I just drove through Beatty, NV, and I wish I’d known to stop in Rhyolite! It’s a lovely yet stark area. 

Rhyolite’s heyday was 1905-1911. It had fifty saloons, nineteen hotels, two churches, a stock exchange, and even an opera house. 

Today, one of the most popular original buildings is the Bottle House, made of beer bottles (donated from the 50 saloons in town). 

Another popular excursion near this ghost town is the Goldwell Museum , which features outdoor modern art installations.

#12 Calico Ghost Town Regional Park

Calico ghost town regional park

Why it’s worth visiting : See one of the biggest silver strikes in California and enjoy the developed amenities. Address : 36600 Ghost Town Road, Yermo, CA 92398 How to get there : Look for the signs just off I-15 in Yermo, CA Nearby accommodation : Calico Ghost Town Campground (on site), Travelodge by Wyndham Yermo (4.1 mi)

San Bernardino County runs Calico Ghost Town Regional Park , which is all that remains of this old west mining town. 

Originally named “Calico” for the multi-colored hills that resemble calico fabric, this site was established for silver ore but abandoned in the 1890s after the price of silver crashed. 

In the 1950s, Walter Knott purchased Calico Ghost Town and moved many of the buildings to his private attraction back east, Knott’s Berry Farm. The remaining buildings in Calico were restored to their original 1881 appearance. 

Perhaps because of Walter Knott, Calico has a touristy feel and many more amenities than most ghost towns in California. 

In Calico, you can tour the ghost town , eat at the restaurant, explore the Mystery Shack and the Lucy Lane Museum, and camp on site. 

The Calico Odessa Railroad also still runs through the town. You can even explore the Maggie Mine, one of the few old mines safe for visitors.

This ghost town in the Mojave Desert is right off I-15 and is the perfect place to stretch your legs on a road trip between Las Vegas and Los Angeles .

#13 Bombay Beach, CA

Bombay Beach, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : You can check out the edgy emerging art scene. GPS coordinates : 33.35090548856989, -115.72929835827749 How to get there : From Palm Springs , take Highway 111 South. Bombay Beach is off the highway east of the Salton Sea. Nearby accommodation : Mojo’s Slab Camp (22.2 mi), Glamis North Hot Springs Resort (7.2 mi)

Bombay Beach was a thriving resort town on the shores of the Salton Sea in the 50s and 60s but morphed into a ghost town in the 80s after the Salton Sea became toxic. 

Well, pseudo-ghost town, I should say. 

There are still around 200 residents of the dried-up little town, most of whom live in the area farthest from the water.

Unlike other ghost towns in Southern California, which are mainly mining communities, Bombay Beach is mostly old trailers and relatively modern homes. 

The vibe around Bombay Beach is very “Mad Max,” and one of the biggest attractions in the area is the budding art scene, which utilizes the stark landscape and old junk as a canvas.

The Bombay Beach Biennale is a three-month season from January to March that celebrates art and community in Bombay Beach.

#14 Silver City, CA

Silver City, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s one of the most haunted ghost towns in California. Address : 3829 Lake Isabella Boulevard, Bodfish, CA 93205 How to get there : Go 41 miles east on Highway 178 from Bakersfield, CA Nearby accommodation : Hobo Campground (4.3 mi), Barewood Inn and Suites (9.6 mi)

While many ghost towns in California have eerie vibes, Silver City is the only one listed in the National Directory of Haunted Places. 

The ghost town owner reported seeing a historic lunch pail fly across the room (admittedly, though, he has a good reason to stir up intrigue). Visitors have also reported floating bottles and mysterious music. 

Silver City has around 20 abandoned buildings from other ghost towns that came to Silver City to save them from demolition. These include a post office, general store, church, and private cabin. 

The owners of the ghost town have elected to allow the buildings to exist in their dilapidated state, choosing to do minimal restoration. 

That said, Silver City has been the site of film shoots for A&E, the History Channel, and even Nissan.

#15 Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

Colonal Allensworth State Historic park

Why it’s worth visiting : Learn about a Utopian experiment led by African Americans. Address : Highway 43, Earlimart, CA 93219 How to get there : Take Hwy 43 and go 30 miles north of Bakersfield, CA Nearby accommodation : John L. Whitehead Jr. Campground (in the park), Hyatt Place Delano (16.3 mi)

Colonel Allen Allensworth founded the town of Allensworth in 1908. 

Allensworth was born enslaved, and his vision was to create a community honoring the “dignity of the human spirit.” He was the highest-ranking African American servicemember at the time. 

The old 1912 schoolhouse remained in use until 1972. The town also included a library and a Baptist church. 

Colonel Allensworth’s death in 1914 and a lowering water table made it difficult for the town to thrive. Nonetheless, several residents hung on for many years. 

Today you can see the home of Colonel Allensworth and his wife Josephine, preserved in its 1912 condition as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park . 

Every year Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park hosts a rededication ceremony to honor the ideals of Allensworth on the second Saturday in October.

#16 Drawbridge, CA

Drawbridge, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : You can go bird-watching as you watch Drawbridge sink into the marsh. Address : Don Edwards Environmental Education Center, 1751 Grand Blvd, Alviso, CA 95002 How to get there : You can view the ghost town from a trail near the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Center. Nearby accommodation : DoubleTree by Hilton Newark-Fremont (5.6 mi). There isn’t much camping nearby. 

None of the ghost towns that I’ve mentioned on this list are decaying as quickly as Drawbridge.

Drawbridge is in south San Francisco Bay near San Jose and was originally just one home for the drawbridge operator on Station Island in 1876. 

Over the next few decades, more residents accrued. By the 1880s, a thousand visitors came every weekend. People went hunting, fishing, and swimming; during Prohibition, the town featured a few speakeasies. 

At its peak, there were around 90 buildings in Drawbridge. By the 1930s, the water table changed and the town began to sink into the estuary. 

Today Drawbridge ghost town is closed to visitors for safety reasons. 

You can see the remaining buildings from the Environmental Education Center in Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge or you can watch the video below.

#17 Eagle Mountain

Eagle Mountain

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s the largest ghost town in California GPS coordinates : 33.85566000380587, -115.48686417726853 How to get there : Turn north at the junction of Hwy 10 and Rice Rd (you can’t get too close to the town, though) Nearby accommodation : Cottonwood Campground (44 mi), Hampton Inn and Suites Blythe (61.5 mi)

A few ghost towns in California aren’t open to the public, and Eagle Mountain is one of them. 

But because it’s the biggest ghost town in California, I couldn’t leave it out. Plus, you can check out the drone footage at the end to get a good sense of the place. 

Henry Kaiser opened the Eagle Mountain iron mine in 1948, and it quickly became the most significant iron mine in Southern California. 

They soon built a town with 400 homes to better accommodate the workers in this extreme remote environment (let’s just say Eagle Mountain is on the “butt end” of Joshua Tree National Park ). 

At its zenith, Eagle Mountain had 4,000 residents. The town had a school, post office, gas station, and shopping center. 

The iron mining operation dried up in the 80s and the town quickly followed suit. Today, there’s a fence around the town’s perimeter, but the school is still in use.

This video has excellent footage of the ghost town. It hypes up the mystery factor of the city, but the reason for Eagle Mountain’s abandonment is that the mine dried up–plain and simple.

FAQs About California Ghost Towns

FAQs about California ghost towns

What constitutes a ghost town?

A ghost town is an abandoned settlement. To be considered a ghost town, there must be at least a few original structures. Often ghost towns come to be after residents exhaust natural resources.

Is it safe to visit ghost towns?

It is generally safe to visit most ghost towns so long as you stay out of the abandoned buildings and mine shafts. 

Mine shafts not only have physical hazards but can also accumulate toxic gases or be home to bats. 

As there are many endangered bat species, it’s essential not to throw anything into mine shafts or shout into them to avoid disturbing roosting bats with babies.

Are there many abandoned cities in California? How many ghost towns are in California?

Because of California’s Gold Rush history, there are as many as 300 ghost towns in the state. Miners abandoned many of them after the mines became unprofitable.

Why are there ghost towns in California?

First, California has a rich history of silver and gold mining. Many Gold Rush era towns sprung up quickly, only to be abandoned after the mines dried up. 

Second, much of California is dry and hot, which has helped preserve historic buildings and mining equipment.

What is the largest ghost town in California?

The largest ghost town in California is Eagle Mountain. The Eagle Mountain iron mine opened in 1948, but by 1983 the last businesses and the old post office had closed.

What’s the most popular ghost town to visit in California?

One of the best ghost towns in California is Bodie, located in Northern California. Bodie State Historic Park is known for its extensive collection of buildings preserved in a state of arrested decay.

What is the oldest California ghost town?

Many people list Bodie as California’s oldest ghost town, but the truth is that record keeping wasn’t excellent during the 1850s, and there may be older towns than Bodie.


author bio - Meredith Dennis

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!

Looking for more unique California travel recommendations? Check out these related articles below!

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17 Best Ghost Towns in California, from Spooky Old Gold Rush Towns to Abandoned Cities

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shopDisney Adds Haunted Mansion Sketchbook Ornaments, Including Light-Up Doom Buggy, Hatbox Ghost

Hi everyone!

Haunted Mansion Sketchbook Ornaments were added to shopDisney today, including a Doom Buggy Light-Up Ornament with the Hitchhiking Ghosts, a The Hatbox Ghost Light-Up Ornament and The Bride Light-Up Ornament . There have been quite a few items added in this past week or so for The Haunted Mansion ! Read below for more on each, with additional details on shopDisney while they remain available.

Doom Buggy Light-Up Living Magic Sketchbook Ornament – The Haunted Mansion

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Step lively to acquire our Doom Buggy Sketchbook Ornament. Posessed by light-up translucent spirits, this Omnimover from The Haunted Mansion has been hijacked by those pesky Hitchhiking Ghosts, Ezra, Phineas, and Gus!

The Bride Light-Up Living Magic Sketchbook Ornament – The Haunted Mansion

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If anyone objects to this Bride Sketchbook Ornament, speak now or forever hold your peace. Sculpted in ghostly translucent resin and lit from within, the original ”Bridezilla” from The Haunted Mansion keeps an axe at hand if you dare to disagree!

The Hatbox Ghost Light-Up Living Magic Sketchbook Ornament – The Haunted Mansion

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Tip your topper to this Hatbox Ghost Sketchbook Ornament. Plussed with glowing translucent accents, this deranged denizen of The Haunted Mansion’s attic will help you get a head start on the holiday season.

Master Gracey Sketchbook Ornament – The Haunted Mansion

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Master Gracey welcomes foolish mortals to The Haunted Mansion for a glass-domed Sketchbook Ornament that will provide additional chills throughout the holiday season. Any questions? Just ”axe.”

Hitchhiking Ghosts Sketchbook Ornament – The Haunted Mansion

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Beware of Hitchiking Ghosts. They might just follow you home from The Haunted Mansion in this glass-domed Sketchbook Ornament that is likely to hijack your holiday season. Thumbs up!

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Michael Buse is a PhD student in the department of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Michael Buse; The Fort Ross Story : Gertrude Atherton, the Native Sons of the Golden West, and the Construction of U.S. Heritage at Metini-Ross . Pacific Historical Review 1 February 2023; 92 (1): 62–92. doi:

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This article examines how late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century U.S. colonists in California constructed an imaginary “Fort Ross Story” alongside a broader attempt to claim the Kashia Pomo homeland of Metini. This settler heritage work at Metini-Ross began in 1892, following the removal of Pomo and Miwok peoples. Fiction and journalism about Russian Fort Ross captured the public imagination with tragic stories of European aristocrats and imperial outposts. Heritage groups such as the Native Sons of the Golden West rebuilt the decaying fort in the mold of these stories. Together, writers and preservationists attempted to conceal the Kashia homeland beneath imagined layers of Russian romance and tragedy. Examining this history reveals the broader role of local heritage work in U.S. settler colonialism and the connections between forced removal and heritage work in California.

The Pacific Coast Highway twists along the cliffs, inlets, and river valleys of California’s Sonoma Coast. Along this scenic route, some eighty miles north of San Francisco, Fort Ross State Historic Park rises in a large clearing between the road and the Pacific Ocean. The fort’s weathered wooden walls surround a Russian Orthodox chapel and numerous buildings. Just down the coast from the fort, dozens of wooden grave markers stand atop a knoll, and, inland, an orchard grows midway up a large hill. Cars dot a large parking lot, and tourists wander through the site, exploring restocked Russian warehouses, shuffling past Russian Orthodox iconography, examining the pristine garden of a U.S.-era ranch house, and resting in the air conditioning of a visitors’ center.

Within the visitors’ center, guests learn a brief history of Russian colonialism in California. In 1812, the Russian American Company (RAC) ventured south from its base in southern Alaska and established a small hunting and agricultural outpost in Northern California. The Russian colony sprawled thinly across the coast of present-day Sonoma County and was centered at Settlement Ross, a site within Metini, the homeland of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians. Roughly twenty miles to the south, the Russians built Port Rumiantsev (today called Bodega Bay) in Coast Miwok territory. From 1812 to 1841, Colony Ross depended on the support of neighboring Kashia Pomo and Coast Miwok communities. The RAC profited from the forced labor of Indigenous Alaskan peoples (mainly Supiaq and Unanga○), sporadically forced labor from more distant California Indian communities, and hired Coast Miwok and Kashia Pomo workers. This colony was short lived. In 1841, the RAC sold its fledgling imperial outpost and left California. 1

Today, this story of Russians in California, physically reconstructed along an iconic U.S. highway, draws substantial numbers of visitors. In 2010 alone Fort Ross State Historic Park received more than 224,000 guests. 2 But why does this story attract so much attention? Colony Ross was a short-lived colony on what has long been Kashia Pomo and Coast Miwok land. Stewarts Point Rancheria, the home of the Kashia Band, is located just some fifteen miles from the park. Graton Rancheria, the home of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (a federation of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo groups), is about forty miles away. What do U.S. stories of Russian colonists mean on Kashia land?

This article argues that American settlers constructed a “Fort Ross Story” as part of an effort to claim Kashia Pomo lands. Contextualizing this Fort Ross Story opens a window into understanding the settler colonial function of California heritage work at the turn of the twentieth century. The annexation of California from Mexico in 1848 and the genocide against California Indians from 1846 to 1873 established the U.S. empire in California. 3 Over these years, settlers transformed Metini-Ross into a U.S. ranch. By 1892, heritage workers began reimagining Metini-Ross as a site of history, constructing romantic and tragic stories of Russian elites that provided Euro-Americans with an aristocratic European heritage in California. The work of writers such as Gertrude Atherton made Fort Ross significant to readers, and heritage groups, led by the Native Sons of the Golden West, reconstructed the fort as a physical symbol of the writers’ tales. Together, they attempted to erase and absorb the Kashia homeland with an imagined European history. Local heritage work followed and supported Indigenous dispossession as settlers worked to materialize the view that they had inherited California from past colonists and that California Indians had disappeared. 4

Existing literature on California heritage work has primarily focused on how Anglo American boosters commodified and mythologized Spanish pasts to attract newcomers and enforce racial hierarchy. The “Spanish fantasy past” supplied white settlers with nostalgic stories of Spanish colonists and concealed the violent U.S. conquest of California. 5 Bolstering these narratives was what scholar Genevieve Carpio has called the “Anglo fantasy past,” a narrative of white pioneers traversing and developing a Mexican desert. 6 Together, the Spanish and Anglo fantasy pasts helped produce the myth that a process of racial evolution resulted in the U.S. state. 7 Although the Fort Ross Story mirrored the Spanish and Anglo fantasy pasts’ claims to California, its focus was hyperlocal. A growing body of literature has examined how local heritage work supports the U.S. empire’s expansion into Indigenous lands. 8 In New England, for example, settlers frequently use localized myths of Indigenous extinction to claim land, a move historian Jean M. O’Brien has called “replacement narratives.” 9 With the Fort Ross Story, white Californians added an additional layer to these “replacement narratives,” sensationalizing the disappearance of Russian colonists rather than Indigenous peoples. U.S. settlers used Russian colonists to erase California Indians from both the present and the past.

This article is divided into three sections. First, it examines the dispossession of Kashia and Miwok peoples during the Metini-Ross ranch era (1841–1903). Second, it analyzes the development of a Fort Ross Story in the aftermath of removal. Third, it considers how the Fort Ross Story presented Russian and U.S. colonialism as a singular tale that nullified Kashia and Miwok sovereignty. The conclusion reflects upon resistance to the myth and the incompleteness of the American settler colonial project at Metini. A critical history of the Fort Ross Story reveals how turn-of-the-century California heritage work became a flexible and dynamic settler colonial tool that colonists used to reshape local histories in support of continuing colonization.

RAC officials founded the colony far south from their Alaskan headquarters in pursuit of sea otter furs and a food supply for Russia’s Pacific colonies. For the entirety of the Russian period (1812–1841), Indigenous peoples constituted the predominant population of Colony Ross and shaped its daily operations. 10 While more militarized forms of Russian colonialism in Siberia and Alaska made Colony Ross possible, including the forced labor regime that brought Alaska Natives to California, Russian colonists had relatively little military power in California. 11 Even the name “Fort” Ross is misleading, as Russians usually referred to the site as Selenie Ross (Ross Settlement) or Koloniia Ross (Colony Ross) rather than ostrog (fortress). 12 This terminology differentiated Ross from other Russian outposts in North America and Siberia that were built for territorial control.

Some Kashia and Miwok communities accepted the Russian presence as a means for diplomatic protection from Spanish and Mexican colonists. As archaeologist Tsim D. Schneider has argued, the Coast Miwok territory between Colony Ross and San Francisco Bay became a borderland where Indigenous communities offered shelter to runaways from Franciscan Missions and decided “which, if any, [colonial] institutions they should engage.” Metini-Ross often served the needs of these communities, at times providing refuge to those fleeing Franciscan missions and even a market for stolen Spanish cattle. 13 Just thirty-eight Russian colonists lived at Colony Ross in 1821. Over two hundred Indigenous people lived at the site, mostly Alaska Natives that the Russians had forced south and California Indians, but also Kānaka Maoli (from Hawai‘i) and Sakhas (from northeastern Siberia). 14 Many more neighboring Pomos and Miwoks worked seasonally at Metini-Ross. By the 1830s, Russian colonists began using violence and hostage-taking to coerce labor during harvest season, but only from distant Indigenous communities. For the most part, neighboring Kashia and Miwok worked at Metini-Ross voluntarily. Alaska Native, Sakha, and Kānaka Maoli intermarriage with Pomo and Miwok women enmeshed the migrant Indigenous labor force into local kinship networks that stretched far inland from colonized sites, creating an Indigenous world that existed beyond colonial objectives or understanding. As historian David Chang has observed, Colony Ross was a “Native American world with a European colonial incursion.” 15 Many Pomo and Miwok communities selectively engaged with the colony until 1841, when RAC officials, responding to decimated sea otter populations and an 1838 trade agreement with the Hudson’s Bay Company that promised to supply Russian Alaska with food, sold the settlement to the Swiss colonist Johann (John) Sutter ( figs. 1 and 2 ). 16

A depiction of Settlement Ross in 1828, looking northwest. Source: Duhaut-Cilly, “Vue de l’etablissement russe de la Bodega, à la Côte de la Nouvelle Albion, en 1828 [View of the Russian Establishment of the Bodega, on the coast of New Albion, in 1828],” lithograph by Landais and Martenelle in A. Duhaut-Cilly, Voyage Autour du Monde, Principalement A la Californie et aux Iles Sandwich, Pendant les Années 1826, 1827, 1828, et 1829… (Paris, 1835), frontispiece, Courtesy of Fort Ross Conservatory Photo Archives.

A depiction of Settlement Ross in 1828, looking northwest. Source : Duhaut-Cilly, “Vue de l’etablissement russe de la Bodega, à la Côte de la Nouvelle Albion, en 1828 [View of the Russian Establishment of the Bodega, on the coast of New Albion, in 1828],” lithograph by Landais and Martenelle in A. Duhaut-Cilly, Voyage Autour du Monde, Principalement A la Californie et aux Iles Sandwich, Pendant les Années 1826, 1827, 1828, et 1829… (Paris, 1835), frontispiece, Courtesy of Fort Ross Conservatory Photo Archives.

A depiction of Settlement Ross, looking west. While there are many similarities with Duhaut-Cilly’s earlier image, the settlement is presented with a much more open layout here. This change could reflect the deterioration of the stockade that occurred during the Russian period. Source: Water-color image of Settlement (Fort) Ross painted in 1841 by I.G. Voznesenskii, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

A depiction of Settlement Ross, looking west. While there are many similarities with Duhaut-Cilly’s earlier image, the settlement is presented with a much more open layout here. This change could reflect the deterioration of the stockade that occurred during the Russian period. Source: Water-color image of Settlement (Fort) Ross painted in 1841 by I.G. Voznesenskii, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

In the sixty years following the RAC’s 1841 departure from California, colonists transformed Metini-Ross from a carefully negotiated Indigenous space to a settler commercial hub. 17 Initially, with Sutter as an absentee owner, the Kashia retained significant control of the territory. When the Swedish travel-writer G.M. Waseurtz af Sandels visited the settlement in 1842, he found Indigenous Californians (presumably Kashia people employed by Sutter) to be the sole occupants of the site, and he reported that the nearby “Russian Indians'' continued to follow a seasonal, migratory economy. Sometimes they accepted work with foreigners, and often they did not. 18 The Kashia navigated shifting colonialisms on their own terms.

In 1843, Wilhem (William) Benitz became Sutter’s manager at Metini-Ross. Benitz had immigrated from Germany to New York in 1833, and in 1842 arrived in California, quickly finding work with Sutter. Benitz leased Ross from Sutter in 1845 and purchased the site outright in 1849. 19 Kashia workers from neighboring villages did the majority of the labor in these years, just as they had during the Russian period. An 1848 ranch census listed “161 Indians,” and Benitz noted in 1852 that “our work is all done by Indians, of which we have about 100 families.” 20 However, without diplomatic protection of the Russian empire, colonial attacks on the Kashia territory escalated. In 1845, rancheros from Sonoma and Marin counties raided Locaya, a Kashia village neighboring Metini-Ross. The rancheros had already captured and enslaved 150 people from other villages. Two Kashia leaders warned their village of the expedition, faced the raiders, and then refused to disclose where their people had fled. Unable to find the village, the invaders attacked those who remained at Benitz ranch. 21 This episode marked a departure from the Russian period, when neighboring Kashia and Miwok had utilized the Russian empire to prevent Spanish and Mexican raids. 22

Following the U.S. invasion of California in 1846 and the gold strike at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, newcomers enveloped Northern California in violence. In the six months from December 1849 to May 1850, vigilantes and U.S. Army soldiers killed perhaps 1,000 or more Indigenous peoples in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino Counties. 23 While these operations did not enter Metini-Ross, news of these killing campaigns, punctuated by the nearby Clear Lake and Cokadjal massacres, surely reached Kashia communities. Further, in April 1850, the California Legislature passed an “Act for the Government and Protection of Indians,” legalizing, among other things, new criminal and forced labor codes for Indigenous Californians. 24 Settlers flooded the region, violently transforming Metini. One newspaper reported that in 1857 a settler mob publicly lynched three Indigenous men near Metini-Ross on accusations of “murder, robbery, etc. committed at various times and places over the last two years.” 25 Almost a century later, Kashia elder Herman James recalled his grandmother, Lukaria, telling him about this lynching. Lukaria remembered settler violence at Metini becoming increasingly common under U.S. rule and physical resistance becoming difficult as “the white people became so numerous that they [the Kashia] couldn’t kill anymore.” 26 From 1850 to 1860, Sonoma County’s white population ballooned from 559 to 11,587. 27 The Kashia fortified their community against the onslaught by developing a spiritual and communal center, Metini Village, adjacent to Benitz’s ranch. It became an essential sacred site that protected Kashia economic, social, and religious practices in the early years of the U.S. settlement 28

This period provided lucrative opportunities for Benitz, who by 1860 held legal title to 17,760 acres of surveyed land. 29 Benitz owned livestock and crops, built a small timber operation with a dock at Ross Port, leased land to miners and petroleum prospectors, co-operated a fishery with San Francisco fishermen, and managed a brewery as well as a ferryboat on the Russian River. 30 In 1861, one journalist compared Benitz to “an old feudal baron,” as his ranch became an economic center for coastal Sonoma County. 31 In an era when the sponsorship of propertied white settlers was the surest way for California Indians to remain on their land, the Kashia strategically utilized Benitz’s employment. 32

In 1867, Benitz sold the ranch to James Dixon and Charles and Ada Fairfax. 33 Dixon, an Irish immigrant who had spent over a decade in the California timber industry, quickly took over management and repurposed the ranch’s infrastructure for timber extraction. By 1873, Dixon employed fifty men to operate a mill that cut up to 15,000 feet of timber per day. 34 Dixon refused to hire Kashia workers and forced them to move away from their villages surrounding Metini-Ross. 35 The Kashia moved elsewhere on their territory, creating two new villages north of Fort Ross on the property of Charles Haupt, a German rancher who married a Kashia woman named Pashikokoya (Molly Haupt). 36 Meanwhile, Dixon’s operations harvested the forests of Metini.

In 1873 Dixon sold 2,500 acres of his holdings, including the Settlement Ross complex, to Ohio-born George Call and Mercedes de Levia Call. 37 The Calls arrived with a fortune amassed from wild west shows in California, and from textile and railroad industries in Mercedes’s native Chile. 38 Building on changing regional demands, they sought to emphasize Ross’s role as a port. Within a few years, nearly all goods coming to and from the region traveled through Ross Port, with as many as eighty-six vessels loading cargo at Ross chute in 1877. By 1897, the Calls owned boats offering weekly trips to San Francisco, and Ross Port became a critical entry and exit point for people and commercial goods in coastal Sonoma County. To accommodate growing commercial traffic, the Calls repurposed the still-standing fort complex. They transformed the “Governor’s House” into a hotel, the “Officers Quarters” into a saloon, a Russian warehouse into a dance hall, and so forth. 39 Call Ranch became, in many senses, a quintessential county center, and the Calls, with their diverse commercial operations, quintessential county leaders.

The first fifty years of U.S. rule in California dramatically altered the demographics and geography of Metini-Ross as Kashia dispossession, commercial agriculture, the timber industry, and shipping made Call Ranch a center of trade and settlement along the Sonoma coast. Today, the beautifully kept “Call House”—which the state purchased from the family in 1962—stands outside the walls of reconstructed Fort Ross, portraying the “ranch era” as a peaceful interlude between Metini-Ross’s Russian and state park periods. There is little reflection on how the Kashia and Miwok peoples endured the U.S. invasion by drawing upon their relationships to homelands that included, and stretched far beyond, Colony Ross. 40 While forced away from Metini-Ross, Kashia and Coast Miwok communities maintained their autonomy. Meanwhile, in the 1890s, a “replacement narrative” emerged from Metini-Ross’s colonial history that recast the site as a mythic space which symbolized Indigenous extinction and Euro-American belonging.

In the winter of 1891, San Francisco–based writer Gertrude Atherton arrived at Call Ranch’s Fort Ross Hotel. The ranch’s shipping services, business activities, saloon, and brothel attracted a wide variety of clientele, and Atherton garnered more attention than most. At thirty-four years old, she had already worked for California newspapers writing controversial opinion columns and had published three novels, the most famous of which, Hermia Suydam (1887), created a national scandal, prompting one publisher to call it “the most immoral novel ever written in the English language.” 41 After critics wrote off Hermia Suydam as a sensationalist fad, Atherton, nursing a bruised ego, traveled Europe, seeking to redefine herself as a writer. She found inspiration in London in 1889, where California’s most famed writer, Bret Harte, continued to pen fanciful stories of California’s Gold Rush. 42 As Atherton later claimed, she recognized that Harte had neglected California’s Spanish and Russian past and “its nuggets were mine.” 43 She returned to San Francisco in the Spring of 1890 and soon arranged her stay at the Fort Ross Hotel ( fig. 3 ).

An 1878 advertisement for the Fort Ross Hotel. This advertisement self-consciously advertises modern amenities and industries. Heritage is relegated to a secondary interest—which would change dramatically over the following fifteen years. Source: “Lithograph of a flyer advertising the Fort Ross Hotel and its amenities at Fort Ross, California, September 1878,” Courtesy of Sonoma County Library, Sonoma County Advertising and Marketing Collection.

An 1878 advertisement for the Fort Ross Hotel. This advertisement self-consciously advertises modern amenities and industries. Heritage is relegated to a secondary interest—which would change dramatically over the following fifteen years. Source: “Lithograph of a flyer advertising the Fort Ross Hotel and its amenities at Fort Ross, California, September 1878,” Courtesy of Sonoma County Library, Sonoma County Advertising and Marketing Collection.

During her winter at Fort Ross, residents saw Atherton, dressed in black, wandering along rainy cliffs and through redwood forests. She sought material for her fiction. The literary market wanted ruins, and Atherton, hungry for success, was ready to fabricate and dig for them. 44 One midnight, dreaming of “the romance of Fort Ross,” Atherton supposedly sneaked into the ranch’s old cemetery in search of “an officer in full uniform.” 45 She put shovel to dirt and dug under the cover of darkness, upturning shin bones, shoe soles, some buttons, and the ire of George Call. 46 Atherton left Metini-Ross in the spring. In 1892, she published The Doomswoman , a romance in which the climactic scene occurred at the fort. Thus began a hugely popular body of work that would forever tether Atherton to Fort Ross.

Atherton used her 1891 visit to Call Ranch to make herself into one of California’s leading mythmakers, and, building on the works of Hubert Howe Bancroft and Harte, she helped transform Fort Ross into a site of U.S. heritage. 47 In a literary marketplace eager for a romanticized past, Atherton located histories ripe for reimagining and proved well positioned to popularize Fort Ross. Critics trumpeted her as a quintessentially California writer. In the words of one biographer, Atherton manufactured “a career out of being a Californian.” 48 Her novella, The Doomswoman (1892), short story, Natalie Ivanhoff: A Memory of Fort Ross (1894), bestselling novel, Rezanov (1906), and journalism created a popular and lasting Fort Ross Story. 49

Atherton wrote during a nationwide heritage craze that was especially pronounced in California. By the 1870s, barely twenty years after the California Gold Rush, the first generation of U.S. citizens born in California began coming of age. Members of this generation were unsure how to understand themselves as Californians and hoped that regional histories could create a sense of belonging in the recently conquered territory. This search for belonging encouraged an explosion of heritage organizations in California, none more important than the Native Sons of the Golden West (NSGW). Its formation marked the start of a new California heritage movement. On July 11, 1875, twenty-one members of the newly organized fraternity met in San Francisco to adopt a constitution. They aimed “to perpetuate in the minds of all native Californians the Memories of one of the most wonderful epochs in the world’s history, the Days of '49.” 50 Members had to be “white males born in California on or after July 7, 1846,” the date John Fremont first raised the U.S. flag in California. 51 The group rapidly expanded. By 1915, there were 20,000 members in California, and the fraternity had dozens of “parlors” (chapters) throughout the state. 52

The NSGW was instrumental in the development of California state park offices and left a massive body of preservation work. This understudied group, according to journalist Carey McWilliams, “dominated state politics…until the mid-twenties.” 53 Although today best remembered for its role in early-to-mid-twentieth-century anti-Asian immigration campaigns, the NSGW’s stated purpose was heritage work. In the words of an 1899 publication, white men formed the fraternity to “emphasize every ennobling endeavor which dignifies the present and idealizes the future.” 54 As a 1956 fraternity publication succinctly put it, from its founding the organization’s primary concern was “the perpetuation of the romantic and patriotic past.” 55 Its strategy was to create place-stories that rooted white men in the California past, legitimized their present, and propelled them into the future.

Organizations like the NSGW sought and produced narratives that marked landscapes with regional histories to assert California’s righteous and unique place in the United States. At their core, these stories were land-claiming mechanisms. As one member wrote, “Nothing so exalts human pride as the neverfading memories of home and the thousand associations that bind man to it.” 56 Inventing heritage in California was a U.S. colonial project to create memories of a home that, just two decades before, was not home. Such memories depended upon narratives of Indigenous absence and white belonging.

In 1903, Atherton’s narrative vision of Fort Ross began to be physically constructed: what had been Call Ranch’s thriving business center became a “shrine” to history. In 1903, newspaper mogul Joseph Knowland, the NSGW’s leading preservationist, founded the California Historic Landmarks League. A year later the league purchased the two-and-a-half-acre fort complex from George Call for $3,000. 57 Metini-Ross would be rebuilt and marketed through Atherton’s sensationalized lens. Before Atherton and other writers began publishing in 1892, Fort Ross was a minor historical curiosity. By 1903, it was the focus of one of California’s earliest preservation campaigns. As Knowland claimed, Atherton “immortalized” Russian California “in poetry and prose.” 58 Meanwhile, Kashia people remained on their ancestral territory at nearby Haupt Ranch. Twentieth-century settlers used historical fiction to conceal Kashia sovereignty beneath sensationalized layers of colonial history.

Atherton’s Fort Ross was, before all else, a military fort set apart from Indigenous California. While historian Bancroft had written of the defensive aspects of Settlement Ross in 1885, Atherton sensationalized these descriptions with fantasies of danger and aristocracy. 59 The walls, she insisted, bounded colonial space. Outside was uncolonized wilderness. For Atherton, this contrast was the seed of romance—Russian nobility tragically at odds with California’s uncolonized wilderness. She placed Fort Ross between “the sunless forest and the desolate ocean” and “miles away from even the primitive Spanish civilization.” The ocean’s “sterile crags and futile restlessness” imbued the landscape with death. 60 The forest teemed with darkness and animals. To accentuate this danger, Atherton’s Fort Ross was heavily militarized. She focused on its “mounted cannons,” “iron-barred gates,” and walls always “paced by watchful sentries.” 61 Within these walls were buildings “occupied by the governor and officers” where “all was luxury, nothing to suggest the privations of a new country.” 62 This contrast of “old world” European luxury within the walls and a dangerous “new world” outside became a defining trope of the Fort Ross Story.

Atherton used fictional royal Russian women to further juxtapose civility and wilderness. In her writings, the coast’s harsh environment led to hysterical despair, exaggerated by the suicidal tendencies of Atherton’s female Russian characters and the cliffs they were “addicted to roving.” 63 Desirous Indigenous and Spanish men scattered Atherton’s tales, including her recurring character “Prince Solano,” a caricatured Indigenous chief, who was "smitten with [the] blonde loveliness” of a Russian Princess and planned to “storm the Fort by night, spike with arrows all who resisted and…snatch the beautiful princess from the ruins and carry her off to his mountainlair [sic].” 64 While Indigenous characters occasionally appeared in Atherton’s tales, she never placed them within the fort. In her stories, the walls supplied a clear but fragile contrast between an aristocratic European space and an uncolonized wilderness.

Journalists found this juxtaposition immensely appealing despite the fact that, by the time journalists began visiting the site in the 1890s, little of the settlement’s military stockade remained. In the 1830s, seventy-five feet of the stockade were blown over, and ranch-era photography (beginning in 1865) shows little of the original stockade standing. 65 Two articles in the 1890s reported that nearly the entire stockade had been removed. 66 Still, journalists typically began their descriptions of the historic settlement by describing “heavy fortified” “redwood” “twelve feet [tall]” walls. In an 1893 article, one journalist claimed that Fort Ross had been “the best garrisoned, best armed, and strongest fortress in California.” 67 An 1898 article insisted, inaccurately, that the walls had seen “some hot fighting.” 68 These stories of war-worn walls subsequently shaped preservation work. In 1917 the California legislature appropriated $1,500 to rebuild “the old entrance site and portions of the stockade.” 69 In 1925, they unanimously passed another bill for $2,500 to “reconstruct the old stockade.” 70 Further projects in 1929, 1954, and 1974 led to the complete reconstruction of the stockade. 71

As mentioned earlier, while the stockade did serve a defensive purpose at Settlement Ross, the outpost was not designed as a military fortress, and a substantial amount of its operations occurred outside the walls. Yet “Fort” Ross evokes broader colonial myths of development and wilderness. 72 This misreading is an error that Atherton’s narratives and reconstructed walls supported—writers and preservationists overemphasized the defensive aspects of Ross in their reconstruction and frequent interpretations of the historic site. 73 Prioritizing the reconstruction of the stockade accentuated the imagined tension between colonial order and wilderness.

Atherton’s Fort Ross was designed for European nobility. She imagined a place of unusual luxury and tastes, consistently emphasizing what she framed as superior class and racial characteristics. 74 The Russian women were “beautiful” with “faultless blondinity,” “blue-gray” eyes, and skin so white it was “transparent.” 75 The men were enlightened leaders of “commanding stature” and the “highest breeding.” 76 Within Fort Ross’s walls, they enjoyed an oasis of aristocratic whiteness, best embodied in the governor’s house and the orthodox chapel. Atherton described the governor’s house as an “abode of luxury” with “thick carpets,” tapestries, “books and pictures and handsome ornaments,” chairs “designed for comfort as well as elegance,” a “dining table,” and the “finest damask,” all of which “glittered with silver and crystal.” Meanwhile, “rich curtains [hid] the gloomy mountain and the long sweep of cliffs,” shutting out the wilderness. Atherton described the chapel as similarly ornate: “magnificent within; the pictures were in jeweled frames and the ornaments were of gold and silver.” 77 Its belfry and cupola dominated the landscape. Both the chapel and the governor’s house depicted a European aristocratic tradition that allowed “the gay congenial band of exiles to forget that they were not…in the Old World.” 78 For Atherton, Fort Ross was a European oasis in an uncivilized California.

This motif of European space shaped the reconstruction of Fort Ross. Soon after Atherton began publishing on Fort Ross, newspapers called for preserving the “fast decaying relics” of the “queer old Russian chapel.” 79 The Calls, likely aware of these shifts, responded to the changing views of the past. In 1888, the chapel served Call Ranch as a hay barn and horse stable. In 1893, Atherton wrote that after seeing the “dilapidated” state of the chapel she felt “anger at the indifference of the owner [Call].” 80 By 1898, the Calls had repaired the chapel’s cupola and belfry, rehung the door, and replaced the windows. 81 Further, they turned the chapel into a hodge-podge museum with, according to an 1898 newspaper article, “benches, altars, and candlesticks…Russian swords, a twenty four pound cannon ball, grapeshot, and other historic relics.” 82 In a decade, the Calls repurposed the old chapel into something they imagined to fit a Russian past.

Interest in the chapel only grew after the California Landmarks League bought the site in 1903 and preservationists began raising funds to restore the chapel. A 1911 article claimed the chapel was “one of the most historic landmarks in the county.” 83 Elsewhere, fundraisers claimed that “the relic” was “one of the most important and unique in all American history.” 84 Such calls led to significant preservation efforts. Five years after California’s 1906 earthquake toppled the Russian chapel, the NSGW organized a “church raising” effort, funded through local newspapers. 85 The building was further restored in 1916–1917, when the state legislature committed $3,000 to rehabilitating the chapel and opening it to the public. By 1922, when Carlos Call (the son of George and Mercedes Call) hosted the NSGW’s Sebastopol and Santa Rosa parlors to paint the church and dine outside, the reconstructed chapel had become a venerated landmark. 86 For several years, the Sebastopol chapter of the NSGW celebrated the fourth of July on the chapel grounds, and in 1925 they invited members of a San Francisco Russian Orthodox church to their celebration. Following this, when Russian American communities began regularly visiting the chapel, years of mythologizing had already ensured its preservation. 87

Today, as in 1903, the chapel is Fort Ross’s most iconic site. Why has it sustained so much interest? Preservationists stressed that Fort Ross was, in Atherton’s words, “unlike anything in modern California.” 88 The Fort Ross chapel told a distinctly different story of California than the state’s Franciscan mission chapels. Heritage workers have long used Franciscan missions to symbolize Christian colonization and developmental histories of California. Unlike Fort Ross, heritage workers portrayed Franciscan missions as racially heterogeneous spaces that expanded into Indigenous landscapes. As anthropologist Elizabeth Kryder-Reid has argued, reconstructed missions included California Indians in their narratives as historical props for a Spanish fantasy past that posited a developmental narrative in which Spanish and Mexican colonization was a stepping stone towards U.S. rule. 89 Fort Ross and its chapel, on the other hand, were not considered symbols of expanding European culture, but as symbols of isolated European culture, kept apart from California’s development and insulated within the military walls. If Spanish missions existed in a developmental teleology concluding in U.S. colonization, then Fort Ross’s chapel ignored Native Americans, failed to contribute to developmental timelines, and instead echoed Atherton’s fantasy of the turn-of-the-century United States—a cultured white space separate from Indigenous pasts and presents.

The Fort Ross Story did not restrict itself to the secular, scientific conventions of the emerging discipline of history. Writers blurred temporal borders with stories of ghosts and landscapes, delving into the deep past and distant future. These stories did not make truth claims, but emphasized hearsay and the emotional resonance of Fort Ross in twentieth-century California. At the heart of these myths was a tension between a mythically tragic Russian colony and the destined expansion of the U.S. empire. Heritage workers fabricated a “replacement narrative” that suggested Russian colonists were exotic casualties in the long colonial march to modern California. Examining the discursive construction of Fort Ross’s landscape and cemetery reveals how writers presented the site as an incomplete Russian project bequeathed to the United States. The Fort Ross Story addressed contemporary anxieties of living in a young U.S. state founded upon stolen land.

Fundamentally, the Fort Ross Story was about colonial permanence. In Atherton’s novel Rezanov , a retelling of Bret Harte and Hubert Howe Bancroft’s stories of Concepcion de Argüello and Nikolai Rezanov, Atherton played on the juxtaposition of whiteness and wilderness to emphasize the promise of colonialism. Atherton’s aristocratic Russian hero, Rezanov, visited the Spanish presidio of San Francisco in 1806. There, he fell in love with the young Spanish-Californian beauty Concepcion. Courting her, he claimed "I wish I had a sculptor in my suite. I should make him model you, [and] label the statue ‘California’.” Concepcion, an embodiment of Spanish California, contained an “unawakened inner life” that Rezanov’s cultured Europeanness unleashed—Rezanov made Concepcion’s “individuality, long budding, burst into flower.” Concepcion’s improvement, in turn, strengthened European Rezanov, helping rid him of the unmasculine trappings of European civility. In her presence, he “throbbed…with a pagan joy…the keen wild happiness of youth.” She “excited the elemental truth in him” and he “[dreamed] as he had dreamed in a youth.” 90 Their gendered developments fed off one another; Rezanov, the colonizer, became virile and full, and Concepcion, colonized California, became conscious and beautiful. 91

This symbiotic relationship between Concepcion and Rezanov represented a gendered image of colonial belonging. As editor William Marion Reedy wrote in the book’s introduction, Rezanov’s “old world grace…is made native there by this bright, deep, fond girl.” 92 It was “made native” through a process of gendered improvement—to become fully realized, feminine California needed the male colonizer, and the male colonizer needed feminine California. In other words, Atherton’s novel suggested California only became California with colonists. 93

This gendered argument for colonial belonging mirrored a new myth at the Fort Ross orchard. During the Russian-era, RAC employees planted crops from around the Pacific in a small orchard outside the settlement. After the RAC departed, Benitz added an expansive second orchard, but by the mid-1890s, the Russian-era plot had fallen into disrepair, and its approximately two hundred surviving trees were unpruned and unkempt. 94 By most accounts, the orchard’s “gnarled trees” produced fruit that was small, bitter, and “very inferior as far as quality is concerned.” 95 However, in the late 1890s, with Fort Ross’s rising profile, the orchard began to attract attention. An 1897 newspaper article on California apple production noted that the orchard was “still in bearing” and that the infamous apple pest, the Codlin Moth, “never made its appearance there.” 96 A tale of fertility grew. A 1904 newspaper article celebrated that the “famous old apple orchard…yielded a large crop of apples this season.” 97 In 1908, two papers claimed the “ancient trees…planted by the Russians 145 years ago…always bear a crop of the very best apples grown anywhere.” 98 In what was becoming a yearly ritual, papers in 1915 eagerly exclaimed the trees “still bear.” 99 By 1920, a legend had taken root. Supposedly, when first planted, “the trees were blessed and an inhibition pronounced that they should never die, neither should the crop of apples fail at harvest time.” 100 A myth of “eternal life” was reiterated throughout the 1920s ( fig. 4 ). 101

A miniature Fort Ross chapel made of apples at the 1939 Gravenstein Apple Show. Courtesy of Western Sonoma County Historical Society.

A miniature Fort Ross chapel made of apples at the 1939 Gravenstein Apple Show. Courtesy of Western Sonoma County Historical Society.

To settlers, the undying Russian orchard represented colonial permanence. 102 The orchard’s productivity wove it into a familiar colonial narrative that Atherton expressed through Concepcion—California's landscape was bountiful, but wild, and needed male colonizers to harness its potential. Once harnessed, the landscape was forever improved and unable to return to its prior disorder. Still, the orchard’s success was underwritten with Russian tragedy. These articles emphasized that while the garden survived, the Russians were gone. Why stress tragedy? One reason is that the intrigue of Russian nobility perishing in a remote North American outpost situated the United States in a long and fraught colonial endeavor. Fort Ross was a colonial project that Russians began but the United States completed. As such, their successes and losses were shared. White U.S. citizens could claim this story—and land—as their own, enabling what O’Brien terms a “replacement narrative” at Metini-Ross, one that promised new settlers both the future and the past, both comforting permanence and tantalizing tragedy. The orchard helped settlers tell stories that overlooked Indigenous sovereignty, and positioned Euro-Americans as righteous inheritors of Metini-Ross’s colonial past. 103

If the orchard reflected how journalists considered Fort Ross a permanently colonized space, Atherton’s use of the dead furthered this project. As scholars Colleen E. Boyd and Coll Thrush have observed, ghosts can provide “a spectral genealogy linking settlers to new places.” 104 Ghosts appeared in Atherton’s first two stories about Fort Ross. In her 1893 article, Atherton wrote of the first U.S. settlers at Fort Ross, a young couple struggling to work the land. With growing debts, the couple’s outlook at Fort Ross was bleak until they were visited by a Russian ghost. “One night he and his wife suddenly and simultaneously awoke to behold a tall, gray, venerable Russian looming out of the dark. ‘Plant potatoes!’ cried the apparition in a loud voice. ‘Plant potatoes!’ and he vanished.” 105 The couple made a fortune from potatoes. Atherton’s Russian ghost wanted the U.S. settlers to succeed and offered intimate knowledge of the land. The ghost in Atherton’s article provided U.S. colonists a supportive ancestor.

Haunting became an essential feature of the Fort Ross Story. In an 1893 profile of Fort Ross, one journalist claimed “there is even a ‘haunted chamber,’ where the ghosts walk at night.” 106 Atherton wrote in 1893 that Fort Ross was “encouragement for the Occultists.” She claimed Fort Ross “was said to be haunted by several generations of ghosts,” including “apparitions of red-headed dwarfs,” and a dead lover who “in the moonlight, [would] let down her hair (golden) and moan loud and long.” 107 Laura Call, born at Fort Ross in 1877, was afraid of nearby mines as a small child, as “I feared I might meet something very eerie, not of this world. I was sure there was a ghost or a witch or something of that sort there…I looked fearfully but kept tight hold of the posts on the porch so that if a witch came, it would have to take the whole house if it took me.” For Call, it was only after her fascination with “fairies and ghosts” that she learned of “the heretofore unreal existence of the ‘Russians’” and “that Fort Ross had a history.” 108 Ghosts were a medium for engaging a Russian past in the U.S. present.

Ghosts were also a vehicle to erase Kashia and Miwok peoples from the past and present. Unlike many colonial ghost stories, Fort Ross stories lacked Indigenous ghosts. Haunting saturated Fort Ross with whiteness and implied the United States inherited an incomplete, but permanently white, colonial space from a failed Russian past. Haunting merged an imagined Russian past with a U.S. present to position Fort Ross as a singular colonial endeavor. This was a sleight of hand that sacrificed the triumphantly linear narratives of Spanish and Mexican Christianization to create a space temporally saturated with whiteness.

Haunting provided a connection to Russian history that allowed settlers to feel they belonged. In 1893, a journalist longingly claimed that at Fort Ross “all the people have stories to tell of the ancient days.” At Fort Ross, history marked the people, as “even the smallest toddler…will pick up one of the rusty hand-wrought spikes of curious shapes that are part of the soil in places, and tell you that ‘the ‘Ooshians [Russians] made that’.” 109 This article suggested a “venerable” heritage at the site continued to manifest in a localized identity. As Laura Call wrote, after learning about Fort Ross’s history, “never again did I feel unimportant. How triumphant I felt. What a wonderful height I suddenly possessed.” 110 She used Russian history, and imagined versions thereof, to feel exceptionally and uniquely at home.

Yet tragedy permeated the Fort Ross Story. Atherton repeatedly wrote of the Russian disappearance as a tragedy, perhaps most ominously illustrated in her concern with the Fort Ross cemetery. As she described it in 1893, “on a lonely knoll between the forest and the gray ponderous ocean, flanked on either side by wild beautiful gulches, are fifty or more graves of dead and gone Russians, with not a line to preserve the ego, once so mighty.” 111 In The Doomswoman , Atherton placed the graveyard “on a knoll so bare and black and isolated that its destiny was surely taken into account at creation…The forest seemed blacker just behind it, the shadows thicker in the gorges that embraced it, the ocean grayer and more illimitable before it.” Referencing a fictional exiled princess, Atherton wrote, “Natalie Ivanhoff is there in her copper coffin, forgotten already.” 112 The cemetery became a device to consider Russian tragedy ( figs. 5 and 6 ).

View of Fort Ross Cemetery in the early 1900s, presumably following the 1906 earthquake. Call Ranch and the fallen Russian chapel are visible in the background. Courtesy of the Sonoma County Library Photo Collection.

View of Fort Ross Cemetery in the early 1900s, presumably following the 1906 earthquake. Call Ranch and the fallen Russian chapel are visible in the background. Courtesy of the Sonoma County Library Photo Collection.

View of the reconstructed fort complex from the cemetery. Source: Photo taken by author, 2019.

View of the reconstructed fort complex from the cemetery. Source: Photo taken by author, 2019.

Why did Atherton emphasize melancholic failure? And, to return to an earlier anecdote, why might Atherton rob a Russian grave? As scholars have shown, settlers have long used Indigenous burial sites to convince themselves of Indigenous peoples’ disappearance. 113 Extinction myths allow settlers to claim a local identity that otherwise belongs to Indigenous people. But the Fort Ross Story added a unique angle to the extinction myth. Atherton framed the cemetery—where in actuality Russian, Alaska Native, Sakha, and potentially Pomo and Miwok people were buried—as thoroughly Russian. 114 She mourned Russian disappearance, and by doing so portrayed the site’s Indigenous pasts and presents as so distant that they were unspeakable. To many settlers, the “ancient” people at this site were not Indigenous, but Russian. At Metini-Ross, writers hid forced removal beneath absent Russianness.

Eventually, the Fort Ross Story dominated the settler imaginary at Metini-Ross. Tragedy and romance became the primary emotions associated with the site. As Laura Call mourned in her old age, remembering her late nineteenth-century childhood at Fort Ross: “where did it all go, that romantic glamor, the wonderful sunsets from Sunset rock, the limitless sea whence the Russians had vanished?” Fort Ross, she wrote, was “never gone from my dreams and memories.” 115 She ended her memoir with a melancholic poem she composed as a young woman in 1899. In it, she dreamed of the past, describing the landscape and the dead Russians beneath it:

At Fort Ross, some two decades of physical and discursive construction dressed a Kashia and Miwok place as a settler home.

The year 2012 marked the bicentennial of Russian Fort Ross. In celebration, a private charitable organization, the Renova Fort Ross Foundation, hosted the Fort Ross Bicentennial Gala at San Francisco’s City Hall. Considering the relative obscurity of Colony Ross within most U.S. histories, this was a strangely glamorous night. American and Russian gas, tech, and oil leaders rubbed shoulders, purchasing seats for $2,500. Russian billionaire Victor Vekselberg, chairing the event, sat beside U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein. 117 Perhaps most notably, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent statements to be read. These messages provided a window into the intrigue of Colony Ross for Russian and U.S. elites. Putin insisted that “the creation of the first Russian settlements on the coast of Northern California not only opened a direct route for development of the vast territories” but should “become a symbol of spiritual ties, friendship and trust between our two countries and peoples." He celebrated Fort Ross as “a milestone in our common history.” 118 Earlier that year, Putin released a joint statement with U.S. President Barack Obama that celebrated the bicentennial. They claimed that Fort Ross “underscores the historic ties between our countries.” 119

Which historic ties were they talking about? It seems that Obama and Putin were celebrating the fact that the United States and Russia colonized the same tract of Kashia land and, as Putin articulated, “opened a direct route for development of the vast territories.” This narrative shows how alive the Fort Ross Story remains. American preservationists reconstructed Fort Ross alongside a prolonged effort to claim California for white settlers. The site passed through many colonists’ hands before the California Historical Landmarks League purchased it, seeking to create romantic histories that connected them to the land. Today, the project of making California a settler space is ongoing and contested.

The Kashia have more than survived. Following their forced departure from Metini-Ross in the early 1870s, Haupt Ranch proved a center of Kashia life for the subsequent five decades. By 1914, leaders began requesting federal agents for a Kashia Rancheria, and throughout negotiations, under the guidance of spiritual leader Anne Jarvis, the Kashia insisted they remain on their ancestral territory. 120 They soon acquired the forty-acre Stewarts Point Rancheria. Since then, Stewarts Point has served as a home to generations of Indigenous leaders, including Jarvis, Essie Parish, Annie Maruffo, and Richard Oakes. It has remained a dynamic site of culture, local land struggles, and broad decolonial action. 121 Elder Herman James, when telling a Berkeley anthropologist in 1958 about the founding of Stewarts Point Rancheria, concluded his story by stating “we live on. Our mothers and mothers’ mothers instruct us…Today the Indians are still living there.” 122

To this day the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians remain on their ancestral territory. In 2015, the band bought 700 acres of coastal land near its rancheria, officially reclaiming a sacred site. As Kashia chairman Reno Franklin wrote, “When we danced on that property for the first time, it was probably the most powerful moment that our tribe has experienced in the last 100 years—to have the sound of our clappers and our whistles, and hear the wind through the feathers of our dancers…That was the moment when the land was ours.” 123 This resurgence has reached Fort Ross State Historic Park, where the Kashia have become influential partners, asserting their own understandings of what the place means. The band constructed a dance circle outside the stockade, hosts “Metini Day,” and is involved with numerous interpretive events and academic studies at the site. Since 2012, the Kashia and Coast Miwok dance group, the Su Nu Nu Shinal, have not only toured Russia but also brought their songs and dances back to Metini. 124

The Kashia are not the only Indigenous peoples reshaping the site. In 2014, Unanga○ scholar and activist Lauren Peters helped organize Alaska Native Day at Metini-Ross. This annual grassroots-funded event celebrates Alaska Native communities and histories, while also illuminating the horrors of Russian and U.S. colonialism in Siberia, Alaska, and California. In 2015, attendees met Kashia tribal members on the beach outside Metini, requesting permission to enter Kashia land. Tribal Chairman Franklin invited them and, as Peters wrote, “Then we, Kashia and Alaskan, went up to the sea bluff and danced together for the first time in 200 years.” 125 Past attendees to Alaska Native Day have included Unanga○, Supiaq, Dena’ina Athabascan, Haida, Tlingit, Inupiaq, Yupik, Eyak, Tsimshian, and Sakha tribal members. 126 In recent years, Tlingit cemetery caretaker Bob Sam has led ceremony and prayer blessings for Alaska Native ancestors buried in the Metini-Ross cemetery. The efforts of Peters, Sam, Franklin, and others to reclaim Metini-Ross have highlighted the possibilities of revisiting this historic site and made clear that turn-of-the-century heritage work failed to sever Indigenous relationships with the site.

The effects of the Fort Ross Story have been particularly stark for the Coast Miwok. With the California Rancheria Termination Act of 1958, Graton Rancheria, home of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo peoples, was among the forty-one California Rancherias that the U.S. government terminated. 127 It was not until the year 2000 that the federal government recognized the Southern Pomo and Coast Miwok as a people, when years of organizing, led by Miwok-Pomo writer, scholar, and tribal chairman Greg Sarris, finally resulted in the establishment of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (a federation of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo groups). 128 Recognition has provided access to a host of political rights essential to practicing tribal sovereignty.

Poet Deborah A. Miranda writes that “California is a story. California is many stories. As [Laguna Pueblo writer] Leslie Silko tells us, don’t be fooled by stories!” 129 Stories have material consequences. Stories organize us. Stories tell us who belongs. At Metini-Ross, colonists made the Fort Ross Story in part to naturalize and conceal the dispossession at the heart of the California Genocide. They physically constructed their story on the Kashia homeland. But for all its influence, the Fort Ross Story has failed to extinguish Indigenous stories or territories. Recently, Pomo, Miwok, and Alaska Native communities have led efforts to reclaim their land and destabilize tales created by colonizers at the turn of the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries. These efforts, which began the moment colonists set foot on Metini, are expanding. Fort Ross State Historic Park will surely continue to be a key venue in broader decolonial struggles in California. Recognizing who reconstructed the park helps explain the mechanisms used to occupy Indigenous land, both in the past and present, and historicizes the uneven access and power relations that mark California parks and historic sites today.

The author wishes to thank Coll Thrush, who supervised this research, generously provided feedback, and mentorship both within and beyond the academy. The author wishes to thank their fellow academic workers across the UC system. In solidarity.

For a history of the Russian period at Metini-Ross, see Kent Lightfoot, Indians, Missionaries, and Merchants: The Legacy of Colonial Encounters on the California Frontiers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).

The visitor center and entrance to the reconstructed complex, which requires payment for entrance, received more than 31,000 visitors in 2018. Fort Ross State Historic Park: Visitor Center Interpretation Project Plan (California: California State Parks, 2014), 31; Sonoma County Economic Development Board: Visitor Report, 2018 (California: Sonoma County EDB, 2018), 23.

The first three decades of U.S. conquest were distinguished by organized vigilante, militia, and military campaigns that sought to eradicate Indigenous Californians. Although California Indians resisted and survived, U.S.-era settlers—with the support of state and federal institutions—intentionally eliminated 90 percent of the California Indian population in just thirty years. Benjamin Madley, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846 – 1873 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017).

As scholar Audra Simpson writes of the Mohawks of Kahnawà: ke, colonialism “fails at what it is supposed to do: eliminate Indigenous people; take all their land; absorb them into a white, property-owning body politic.” Colonialism is incomplete. Settler heritage emerges from this incompleteness. Audra Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), 7.

For literature on the Spanish Fantasy Past, see Carey McWilliams, Southern California Country: An Island on the Land (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 1946); Phoebe S. Kropp, California Vieja: Culture and Memory in a Modern American Place (Oakland: University of California Press, 2008); William F. Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past (Oakland: University of California Press, 2004); Dydia DeLyser, Ramona Memories: Tourism and the Shaping of Southern California (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005); Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, California Mission Landscapes: Race, Memory, and the Politics of Heritage (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016).

Genevieve Carpio, Collisions at the Crossroads: How Place and Mobility Make Race (Oakland: University of California Press, 2019), 41.

This myth imagined that California Indians were overtaken by pre-modern Spaniards who gave way to rugged Anglo-American pioneers of what became a U.S. state.

For recent works examining the intersections of U.S. empire, mythmaking, and heritage work, see: Deborah A. Miranda, Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir (Berkeley, Cal.: Heyday Books, 2013); Lisa Blee and Jean M. O’Brien, Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019); Boyd Cothran, Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014); Cynthia Culver Prescott, Pioneer Mother Monuments: Constructing Cultural Memory (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2019); Andrew Denson, Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and the Contest over Southern Memory (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017); Manu Karuka, Empire’s Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad (Oakland: University of California Press, 2019).

Jean O’Brien, Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010).

For histories of the Russian colony from Pomo and Miwok perspectives, see: Tsim D. Schneider, The Archaeology of Refuge and Recourse: Coast Miwok Resilience and Indigenous Hinterlands in Colonial California (Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 2022), 111–50; Damon B. Akins and William J. Bauer, We Are the Land: A History of Native California (Oakland: University of California Press, 2022), 98–102.

Lightfoot, Indians, Missionaries, and Merchants , 116.

E. Breck Parkman, “Fort and Settlement: Interpreting the Past at Fort Ross State Park,” California History 75, no. 4 (Winter, 1996): 354–69.

Schneider, Refuge and Recourse , 118, 119; Anne Hyde, Empires, Nations, and Families: A New History of the North American West, 1800 – 1860 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011), 176.

Ivan Kuskov, A list of Russians, Kodiakers, and Others, Male and Female, at the Settlement and Fort of Ross , June 1820–September 1821, in Russian California, 1806 – 1860: A History in Documents, ed. James R. Gibson and Alexei A. Istomin (London: The Hakluyt Society, 2014) 1:428.

David Chang, The World and All the Things upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 164.

Kupreyanov, A Directive from Governor Kupreyanov to Manager Rotchev about an Agreement with the Hudson’s Bay Company , January 16, 1840, in Russian California , 2:494; Etholen, A Report from Governor Etholen to Manager Kostromitinov of New Archangel about the Sale of Ross Counter to John Sutter , October 18, 1841, in Russian California , 2:537.

For works examining the ranch period, see Lyn Kalani, Lynn Rudy, and John Sperry, eds., Fort Ross (Jenner, Cal.: Fort Ross Interpretive Association, 1998); Kent Lightfoot, Thomas A. Wake, and Ann M. Schiff, The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Fort Ross, California (Berkeley: Archaeological Research Facility, University of California Berkeley, 1991); Sarah Gonzalez and Kent Lightfoot, Metini Village: An Archaeological Study of Sustained Colonialism in Northern California (Berkeley, Cal.: Escholarship, 2018).

G.M. Waseurtz af Sandels, A Sojourn in California by the King's Orphan (San Francisco: Grabhorn Press in arrangement with the Society of California Pioneers, 1945), 82.

These financial arrangments resulted in lengthy legal disputes. Initially appointed the overseer by John Sutter, William Benitz began leasing the land in 1845, only to have the Mexican government overturn Sutter’s deed and grant the land to Manuel Torres that same year. While Benitz continued to lease the land, it was not until 1849 that he officially purchased Muniz Ranchero for himself, and even after this, following the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, his ownership was disputed in court until 1859. Lightfoot, Wake, and Schiff, Archaeology and Ethnohistory , 121.

“Presidio Ross, January the 8th, 1848, Liste of Indians at present time,” Vallejo Papers, Vol. 12, no. 326, Bancroft Library, Berkeley, Cal.; William Benitz to Anthony Benitz, May 6, 1852, Translated from original German, letter no. x–3, Benitz Family Letters, 1852–1863, Bancroft Library.

Kashia band chairman Reno Franklin has observed that their resistance saved the Kashia and is “a reminder of why we are still here.” It was likely two of the following four leaders who held off the raiders: Chief Tojon, Chief Noportegi, Chief Kolo-biscau, and Chief Cojoto. Reno Franklin quoted in Gonzalez and Lightfoot, Metini Village , xv.

Benitz, a German Catholic, claimed to fear for his own life when later testifying about property damages. William Benitz to Timothy Murphy, August 6, 1845, C-A 39 Tomo V, pp. 384–95, Bancroft Library. For court documents, see: “processo contra Atonio Castro y socios acusados de haber extraido a mano armada una porcion Indios Gentiles, 1845,” C-A 39 Tomo V, pages 384–95, Bancroft Library.

For a detailed account of this estimate see: Madley, American Genocide , 115–44.

California Legislature, 1850, “an act for the governance and protection of Indians,” in The Statues of California Passed at the First Session of the Legislature: Begun the 15th Day of Dec. 1849 And Ended the 22nd Day of April, 1850, at the City of Pueblo De San Jose , chapter 133, no. 2, 3, 6, 14, 16, 20. 408–10.

“Hanging of Indians,” Daily Alta California , September 19, 1857.

Brackets from the text. Herman James, “Tales of Fort Ross,” in Robert Oswalt, ed., Kashaya Texts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), 278; Herman James, “A Lynching,” in Oswalt, ed., Kashaya Texts , 281.

Further, while the 1850 census marked 897 “improved” acres, versus 243,766 “unimproved”, by 1860 this changed dramatically, to 198,768 “improved” and 80,453 “unimproved.” J.D.B. Debow, 1850: The Seventh Census of the United States, California (Washington, D.C.: Robert Armstrong, Public Printer, 1853), 969; Joseph C.G. Kennedy, “Classified Population of the States and Territories, by Counties, on the First Day of June, 1860,” in Population of the United States in 1860: Compiled from the Original Returns of the Eighth Census, under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1864), 28.

A Kashia dance house was built here in 1857—perhaps the first openly constructed in the colonial period. Gonzalez and Lightfoot, Metini Village , 140.

1859, Book of Deeds “9”, pages 431–32. Sonoma County Recorder’s Office, Santa Rosa, Cal. For a pdf, see: “Rancho de Muniz,” Sept. 14, 2020, (accessed July 20, 2022).

Gonzalez and Lightfoot, Metini Village , 18; F. Kaye Tomlin, “The Ranch Era,” working paper (May 17, 1991), 8.

J.H. McNabb & Samuel Cassiday, “Jottings by the Wayside,” The Petaluma Argus , July 30, 1861.

One Kashia oral history recalls requiring paper documentation of employment at Metini-Ross when traveling outside the ranch. Herman James, “When the End of the World was Forecasted,” in Kashia Texts , 283.

Gonzalez and Lightfoot, Metini Village , 103. While James Dixon lived at Fort Ross, the Fairfaxes lived at a Marin County estate until Charles died. After this, Ada moved to Fort Ross with her mother and niece and lived in Benitz’s old quarters. F. Kaye Tomlin, “Some Notes on Ada Benham Fairfax,” in Fort Ross Interpretive Association Newsletter , July–August, 1988.

“Letter from Duncan’s Mill,” Sonoma Democrat , February 22, 1873; “Duncan’s Mill,” Sonoma Democrat , March 22, 1873. This large-scale timber operation required significant infrastructure in roads, chutes, and worker housing. “Fort Ross,” Sonoma Democrat , September 6, 1873.

Mary Kennedy, “Culture, Contact and Acculturation of the Southwestern Pomo” (PhD Diss, University of California, Berkeley, 1955), 83.

Lightfoot, Wake, and Schiff, Archaeology and Ethnohistory , 122; E.W. Gifford, Ethnographic Notes on the Southwestern Pomo (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 1.

May 31, 1873. Sonoma Democrat , “Sale of Fort Ross Ranch,” p. 5. Dixon sold this fraction of the property and its stock for $45,000.

F. Kaye Tomlin, “The Call Family,” in Laura Call, My Life at Fort Ross (Jenner, Cal.: Fort Ross Interpretive Association, 1987), 29.

Tomlin, “The Ranch Era,” 7–8. They converted the chapel, barns, sheds, and shops to support their various enterprises. Just outside the stockade, they built a store, post office, telegraph office, and school.

Schneider, Refuge and Recourse , 84. As Schneider has suggested, when we look “beyond the bounds of California’s colonies” we can see “persistent places of power, memory, protection, and recourse for Native people.”

The Argonaut , January 21, 1889. Hermia Suydam positioned Gertrude Atherton near the most radical end of “New Woman” writers: authors whose female characters’ sexual and social independence challenged nineteenth-century gender norms. Carolyn Forrey, “Gertrude Atherton and the New Woman,” California Historical Quarterly 55, no. 3 (Fall, 1976): 194–209.

Emily Wortis Leider, California’s Daughter: Gertrude Atherton and Her Times (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 1991), 105. For more on Bret Harte, see Gary Scharnhorst, Bret Harte: Opening the American Literary West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000), 39.

Gertude Atherton, Adventures of a Novelist (Oxford: Alden Press, 1932), 185. It is also likely that Atherton’s interest in Fort Ross stemmed partially from father-in-law, Faxon Dean Atherton, who visited Russian Fort Ross in 1838. Faxon Dean Atherton, The California Diary of Faxon Dean Atherton , edited by Doyce B. Nunis Jr. (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1964), Chapter X, “To Fort Ross.”

Call, My Life at Fort Ross , 20; Leider, California’s Daughter , 128.

Gertrude Atherton, “The Romance of Fort Ross,” California Illustrated Magazine 5, no.1 (December 1893): 57–62; Charles Greene, “Fort Ross and the Russians” The Overland Monthly 22, no. 127 (July, 1893), 14.

Greene, “Fort Ross,” 14. While some have disputed if Atherton actually dug up a body, archaeologists recently discovered a disturbed grave with “some bone fragments, some buttons and a religious medal.” This could be the grave Atherton purportedly robbed. Lynne Goldstein, “Decisions and Adaptations on the Frontier: The Russian Cemetery at Fort Ross, Northern California,” AP: Online Journal in Public Archaeology , special volume 3 (2018): 47.

Harte’s 1872 poem, “Concepcion de Argüello,” was the first piece of fiction about Russians in California, though it focused on Spanish colonists. In 1885 Hubert Howe Bancroft discussed Russian America at length in his second volume of The History of California . Bancroft’s work contrasted Russian and Spanish colonialism with one another, a contrast later taken up by Atherton. Hubert Howe Bancroft, The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, Volume XIX, History of California, Volume Two, 1801 – 1824 (San Francisco: The History Company, 1886) 53–83, 628–653; Harte, “Concepción de Argüello,” The Atlantic Monthly , volume xxix (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1872), 603.

Leider, California’s Daughter , 6.

Gertrude Atherton, “The Doomswoman,” Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine (September, 1892): 263–65; Gertrude Atheron, “Natalie Ivanhoff: A Memory of Fort Ross,” in Before the Gringo Came (New York: J. Selwin Tait & Sons, 1894), 263–78; Gertrude Atherton, Rezanov (New York: The Authors and Newspapers Association, 1906); Atherton, “Romance.” The Doomswoman was republished in 1893 with alterations, most significantly in the concluding events at Fort Ross. Atherton added a reference to Natalie Ivanhoff and the cemetery. This article refers to the 1893 edition. See, Atherton, The Doomswoman , (New York: Tait, Sons, & Company, 1893).

Peter Conmy, The Origins and Purposes of the Native Sons and Native Daughters of the Golden West (San Francisco, California: Dolores Press, 1956), 7.

Conmy, Origins and Purposes , 9.

Brenda Denise Frink, “Pioneers and Patriots: Race, Gender, and Historical Memory in California, 1875–1915” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University, 2010), 23.

McWilliams, Southern California Country , 176.

J.J. Owen, California, the Empire Beautiful: Her Great Bays, Harbors, Mines, Orchards, and Vineyards, Olive, Lemon and Orange Groves, Her Men and Women, a Prophecy of the Coming Race (San Francisco: Pacific Press Publishing Company, 1899), introduction.

Frank L. Coombs, “Our Heritage,” in California, the Empire Beautiful , 23.

Joseph Knowland raised the funds in conjunction with newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. The league quickly (in 1906) deeded the site to the Sutter’s Fort Board of Commissions, the predecessor to California’s State Parks Commission. Additional purchases in 1962, 1976, and 1990 expanded the park to its present size of nearly 4,000 acres. Kalani, Rudy, and Sperry, eds., Fort Ross , 50.

Joseph Knowland, California, A Landmark History (Oakland: Oakland Tribune Press, 1941), 101. Quote is from Knowland’s first sentence on “Fort Ross and the Russians,” referencing Atherton’s writings about Nikolai Rezanov.

Bancroft, History of California , 2: 628–53

Atherton, “Ivanhoff,” 277, 268.

These descriptions of the walls seem to have come from Bancroft, though greatly heightened. Bancroft, History of California , 2: 630.

Atherton, Doomswoman , 244.

Atherton, “Ivanhoff,” 268.

In one of Atherton’s stories, the Russian colonists left California in response to an imagined kidnapping plot. Atherton, “Romance,” 60. Solano’s name is borrowed from the actual Suisune leader Sam Yeto, also known as Chief Solano. Hyde, Empires, Nations, and Families , 171.

Kalani, Rudy, and Sperry, Fort Ross , 30.

“An Historic Spot,” Healdsburg Tribune , September 1, 1898; Greene, “Fort Ross,” 18.

Greene, “Fort Ross,” 2. Greene also claims the fort had “two to four hundred men…all more or less trained as soldiers,” and that a “three inch cannon ball…was cut out from the inner wall of one of the bastions.”

“An Historic Spot,” Healdsburg Tribune , September 1, 1898.

“Legislative News,” Colusa Herald , April 24, 1917.

“Plans Rebuild Old Fort Ross,” Madera Tribune , January 28, 1925.

Kalani, Rudy, and Sperry, Fort Ross , 31.

Dwayne Donald, “Forts, Colonial Frontier Logics, and Aboriginal-Canadian Relations: Imagining Decolonizing Educational Philosophies in Canadian Contexts” in Decolonizing Philosophies in Education , ed. Ali A. Abdi (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2012), 95.

Parkman, “Fort and Settlement,” 354–69.

This fascination with high culture seems to be drawn from Bancroft’s descriptions of the last governor of Fort Ross,

Atherton, “Ivanhoff,” 269.

Atherton, Rezanov , 9.

Atherton, “Romance,” 58.

Atherton, “Ivanhoff,” 267.

“Preserve the Fort,” Press Democrat (Santa Rosa), April 29, 1903; Laura Powers, “Landmarks League Appeals to Californians to Lend a Hand,” San Francisco Call , April 15, 1904.

Diane Spencer-Hancock and William Pritchard, “The Chapel at Fort Ross: Its History and Reconstruction” in California History, The Magazine of the California Historical Society (Spring, 1982).

“Help Needed to Save Old Fort Ross Chapel,” Press Democrat (Santa Rosa), October 5, 1911.

“Bought Fort Ross,” Press Democrat , July 28, 1903.

“Another Boost for Old Chapel,” Press Democrat , October 6, 1911.

“Natives Visit Old Fort Ross,” Press Democrat , October 24, 1922.

For more on Russian émigré communities and Fort Ross, see Nina Bogdan, “Between Dreams and Reality: The Russian Diaspora in San Francisco, 1917–1957” (Ph.D. diss., University of Arizona, 2021), 354–439.

Kryder-Reid, California Mission Landscapes , 133.

Atherton, Rezanov , 91, 95, 14.

For a history of Concepción Argüello and Nikolai Rezanov, see Maria Raquél Casas, Married to a Daughter of the Land: Spanish-Mexican Women and Interethnic Marriage in California, 1820 – 80 (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2009), chapter 3.

William Marion Reedy in Atherton, Rezanov , iv.

The Concepción-Rezanov myth fit within an emerging narrative that used stories of interethnic marriage to suggest that Spanish colonists desired conquest. As historian Maria Raquél Casas has shown, tales of Anglo men marrying Spanish “daughters of the land” became “false symbols of peaceful invasion and control by the United States.” For more on romance and colonial belonging, see Casas, Married to a Daughter of the Land .

George Call claimed the trees were “very old and mossy, and are not very thrifty.” George Call, “Very Old Trees in a California Orchard, 1899,” The Pacific Bee , May 10, 1899. For histories of the orchard, see Lynda S. Stainbrook, Fort Ross Orchards: Historical Survey, Present Conditions, and Restoration Recommendations (California: Department of Parks and Recreation, Interpretive Planning Unit, June, 1979); Orchard Management Plan: Fort Ross Historic State Park (Sonoma County, Cal.: National Park Service, April, 2015), 40–77.

E.O. Bremner, “Apple Culture in Sonoma County,” Pacific Rural Press (San Francisco) July 4, 1914.

“Apples on the Coast of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties,” Pacific Rural Press , March 27, 1897.

“Visitors from Fort Ross,” Press Democrat , November 16, 1904.

“Ancient Fruit Trees,” Healdsburg Tribune , September 17, 1908; “Tree Bears Fruit at 145 Years Old,” Press Democrat , September 11, 1908.

“Apple and Cherry Trees 103 Years Old, Still Bear,” Geyserville Gazette , June 18, 1915.

“Trees 108 Years Old Still Bear,” Press Democrat , May 7, 1920.

“Fort Ross Apple Orchard, Planted by Russians 110 Years Ago, Is to Bear Again,” Press Democrat , June 17, 1922; “Trees Planted in 1812 Still Bear Apples,” Healdsburg Enterprise , May 21, 1925.

This is a trope in colonial preservation. In her analysis of gardens in California missions, Elizabeth Kryder-Reid argued that preservationists’ transformation of “mission landscapes into ornamental gardens…materialized settler colonial narratives and helped to naturalize the complex discourses of race and power.” Kryder-Reid, California Mission Landscapes , 72.

O’Brien, Firsting and Lasting . As Genevieve Carpio has shown in her analysis of mythmaking in California's “citrus belt,” seemingly benign stories about “flavor” can function as celebrations of colonization and capitalist agriculture. See Carpio, Collisions at the Crossroads , 44.

Colleen E. Boyd and Coll Thrush, “Introduction: Bringing Ghosts to Ground,” in Phantom Pasts, Indigenous Presence: Native Ghosts in North American Culture and History , eds. Colleen E. Boyd and Coll Thrush. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011).

Atherton, “Romance,” 61.

Greene, “Fort Ross,” 1.

Atherton, “Romance,” 62.

Call, My Life , 8.

Greene, Fort Ross , 1.

Call, My Life , 19.

Atherton, Doomswoman , 251.

O’Brien, Firsting and Lasting , xii. For a further examination of how settlers use graves to claim land, see Sarah Schneider Kavanagh, “Haunting Remains: Educating a New American Citizenry at Indian Hill Cemetery,” in Boyd and Thrush, Phantom Pasts , 151–78.

Lynne Goldstein and Robert A. Brinkmann, “The Context of the Cemetery at Fort Ross: Multiple Lines of Evidence, Multiple Research Questions,” Pacific Coast Archaeological Study Quarterly 39, no. 4 (May, 2008), 2–21.

Call, My Life , 23, 24.

For information on the Renova Fort Ross Foundation’s investments at Fort Ross State Historic Park, see: “Renova Fort Ross Foundation,” Fort Ross Conservancy, (Last accessed August 16, 2022). For journalism on Vekselberg and Fort Ross, see: Christina Wilkie, “How a Russian Oligarch Linked to Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Turned a California State Park into a Mini Moscow,” CNBC Politics, last modified January 22, 2019, (accessed July 20, 2022); Jason Vest, “Russia’s Jamestown in America—and the Oligarch Who Has Helped Fund It,” The Washington Post , last modified April 12, 2022, accessed July 30, 2022, (accessed July 30, 2022); Stephanie Baker, Yuliya Fedorinova, and Irina Reznik, “Putin’s ‘American’ Oligarch Privately Boasted of Trump Ties. Then He Lost Billions,” Bloomberg , Last Modified January 4, 2019, (accessed July 30, 2022).

Vladimir Putin quoted in “California Dreaming? Putin Pushes Peace on Fort Ross Anniversary,” Russia Today , last modified October 19, 2012, (accessed July 30, 2022); Putin quoted in “Bicentennial of Russians in California,” Russia Today , last modified October 19, 2012, (accessed July 30, 2022).

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, “Joint Statement by the President of the United States of America Barack Obama and the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,” The White House: President Barack Obama (June 18, 2012.

June Nieze, “The Purchase of Kashaya Reservation,” Working Paper No. 7, Kashaya Pomo Language in Culture Project , Department of Anthropology, California State College, Sonoma, 1974.

Stewarts Point provided a key space for Kashaya Pomo and other Indigenous nations to organize in California. This history of cultural thriving and decolonial resistance includes the Bole Maru religion, cultural programs, the Pit River Rancheria struggle against Pacific Gas & Electric, the “Indians of All Tribes” occupation of Alcatraz, and battles against the California Highway Department expropriating Kashaya land at Stewarts Point. For a history of activism surrounding and emerging out of Stewarts Point Rancheria, see Akins and Bauer, We Are the Land , 270–96.

Herman James, “When the End of the World Was Forecasted,” in Oswalt, ed, Kashaya Texts , 287.

Reno Franklin quoted in Debora Utacia Krol, “How This Tribe Got Their Coastal California Lands Returned” in Yes Magazine Spring (April 2), 2018.

“Su Nu Nu Shinal,” Oakland Symphony , (accessed July 30, 2022).

Lauren Peters, “The Price of ‘Soft Gold’,” in Bay Nature (March 30, 2021), (accessed July 30, 2022).

Lauren Peters, August 4, 2019, email message to author.

United States Congress, Public Law 85–671 (72 Stat. 619, 621), August 18, 1958.

Akins and Bauer, We Are the Land , 317–20.

Miranda, Bad Indians , i.

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