During the Russian period, three onsite warehouses supplied Fort Ross and its inhabitants. The reserve store, magazin zapasnoi, contained company-owned trade goods and fur storage. The trade store, torgovia lavka, sold supplies that employees could purchase with cash or credit. The materials store, magazin obshchestvennoi, stocked essential tools and supplies for work at the fort. Each warehouse played a critical role in sustaining the colonies. The magazin, which means “store” in Russian, is the office of the clerks.
The reconstructed Magazin allows us to show and tell about these commercial activities that occurred at Fort Ross between 1812-1841. The reconstruction of the Magazin at Fort Ross was based on archaeological evidence, extensive research, and comparisons to buildings at other Russian American Company (RAC) settlements. The building has been constructed in a similar manner to the original structure and interprets the role of all three warehouses.
Every item in the building is intended to be handled or touched — with proper supervision. Students can explore trade from all over the world brought in for trade or purchase by company employees. They can see examples of the food grown at the fort. They can also get hands-on with furs of many of the animals hunted or otherwise utilized by the fort.
Click here for the Fort Ross Magazin brochure.
Magazin Layout –
- Front Porch
- Incoming Shipments (One of each item will be able to be taken down from the shelf to touch and look at. If an item seems stuck, please do not pull it off the shelf).
- Work Table
- Warehouse Storage
- Company Store/ Trade Store
- Consumable Goods
- Fur Processing (Employees may touch the furs on the table. Each pelt has the animal identified on the leather side. Additional furs hanging from the beams and on the back wall are not to be touched or taken down. Employees, specifically clerks and hunters, may also use the fur press and scale.)
- Storekeeper/ Clerk’s Area (Items on this desk and in the trunks are for use by the clerks)
- Material Store
Exhibit Research and Design –
Exhibits in the magazin were developed through extensive research into primary source documents, including the Khlebnikov archive and shipping manifests. All items in the warehouse are recorded as having been there. The fur press, fur bales, and certain other objects are based on records from the Hudson Bay Company and work done by the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver in Washington state.
Since many of the items the Russians traded were from British and American merchants, many of the crates are in English. Others are in Spanish, Russian, or Chinese. The company names and places are made up, but are historically appropriate. Some company names are actually the names of merchant ships on the RAC ship manifests.
Objects have been packed as they would have been 200 years ago. Ceramics and many other goods were often shipped in barrels or crates and were packaged in excelsior or straw. Bottles were shipped in crates with separate compartments. Gin, rum, wine, and ale were listed as items traded with the missions. Fabric, blankets, and other textiles were shipped in bales. More expensive cloth was shipped in crates like the one on display. Silk was imported from China, as was inexpensive muslin. Woolen fabrics like blankets or flannel and velvet may have been imported from Britain or New England. Grain and flour was shipped in sacks or in barrels.