Archive of Issues
Archive of Narrations
Syndic Literary Journal

Syndic No.45 ~ Thomas Pikarski

Fort Ross

Written and Narrated by Thomas Pikarski


Fort Ross

She bragged during her campaign

“I can see Russia from my house!”

Yet we’ve always been able to see Russia,

whether baby boomers growing up

with air raid sirens during the Cold War

or through accusations of treason

by our highest government officials

for selling out to America’s worst enemy.

Fort Ross was built off a lonely shore

of the Pacific by Russian trappers

come to build a settlement,

claim this portion of Alta California

for the Tsar, while avoiding Spaniards

at missions throughout the south,

and mine pristine waters for sea otters

that swam in abundance along the coast

all the way down through balmy Baja.

Previously trappers from Siberia migrated

and established a camp at Sitka Alaska.

They encountered a wonderland of game

from which to gain grand harvests of pelts.

Financed by the Tsar they thrived, reaped

many thousands of furs from several species

within Alaska, Canada and Oregon territory.

Understandably hostile Aleut Indians

defied the intruders, waged attacks, raids,

attempting to fend them off. But the Russians,

ruthless in their retribution pressed on,

eventually established an impenetrable fort

from which to conduct extensive commerce

and satisfy a booming world market.

Inevitably pickings thinned up north

and the Russians sought other lands to harvest,

aware that to thrive they’d have to venture south,

colonize, build a fortress from which to continue

their pillage. There are always diminishing returns

in such genocidal affairs: we experienced sardines

by the millions fished clean from Monterey Bay,

California’s last grizzly now a mirage of the past,

and vast herds of Plains buffalo slaughtered,

buffalo that within the span of two decades

teetered on the precipice of extinction.

The Russian occupation at Fort Ross

could not remain profitable

for the innocent little otter

which had formerly feared only sharks

were within a few years all but eliminated

from the entire length of the Pacific coast.

The Tsar had urgent considerations:

the northern territories mostly trapped out,

competition from the Hudson’s Bay Company

keen, Europe in a state of political disarray

with factions at odds all over the continent.

His imperial ambitions curtailed,

officials at Sitka were instructed

to put Fort Ross up for sale.

They went begging but had no takers,

no other nation nor land baron interested.

Finally they convinced an affable John Sutter

to take the property off their hands. It held

a fine fort, outbuildings, scores of livestock,

valuable provisions and useful implements,

building materials, cannons, horses

and acreage that stretched for miles.



Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
History of Syndic
Write Letter / Contact Publisher
© all photos/text

Archive of Issues

Archive of Narrations