I had a chance recently to work on a feature film shooting at Fort Ross, about one-hundred miles north of San Francisco off of Highway 1. Fort Ross is unique to California, unlike the other forts that were built by the United States government, and protected by US troops. Fort Ross was built and managed by the Russians. This was the Southernmost settlement in the Russian colonization of the North American continent. Fort Ross was a settlement from 1812 to 1841. The architecture is very Russian, most of which was built in Russia, then shipped to Fort Ross.
The film I worked on is called “Fort Ross”, a time travel tale shot in Russia and other locations in Europe. The filmmakers built a replica of Fort Ross in Russia for the film. Personally I wished they would had filmed “Fort Ross” on location, it would had helped the local economy and the local Bay Area crew like myself. On the positive side they shot one day in Sausalito, one day at San Francisco Airport and two days at Fort Ross. Working with a Russian crew was an awesome experience, the Russians are very charming, and they were curios about Americans and America. I am half Russian, second generation on my mothers side, so it was great talking to Russians about Russia.
I regress, what makes Fort Ross such an interesting location is the fact it is uniquely Russian, not American. The towers are rounded, there is a small chapel on the eastern end of the fort. There is a cannon for protection, but not a lot of cannons one would see on American forts. This outpost was so remote for Russia, even if it had a thousand cannons, it would eventually be over run by enemy forces. (Though I am not aware if Russia had anything to fear, California at the time was part of Mexico and they were trading partners.) This was an outpost for fur trappers and hunters. Since roads at the time were primitive, the Pacific Ocean was the best way to transport people, goods and equipment.
There are so many great places to shoot at Fort Ross, not only in and around the fort, there is a small forest just north of the fort, next to the museum. Beneath the cliff, there is a small beach, a windmill, a rock formation overlooking the coast and the forest to the East.
For lodging there is the Fort Ross Lodge 707-847-3333, the lodge I stayed at; it was comfortable with a deep bathtub one could almost swim in, the room was spacious if not elegant. Fort Ross Lodge is a series of cottages connected together in clusters of three to four units. If you want something more high end The Timber Cove Inn 707-847-3231. I did not stay there, but I did eat at the restaurant and the food was amazing. The stars of our film stayed at the Inn, they were very happy with the accommodations, again this is more upscale and there are more rooms at this establishment. We had a sizable crew about forty, therefore our crew stayed at several hotels.
There are a few gas stations on highway 1, there is one in Jenner, there is one in the town of Fort Ross. If you are driving a diesel vehicle, you should fuel up at the Petaluma 76 gas station located at 4998 Petaluma Blvd, Petaluma. There is also a dump station at the 76. The best way to get to Fort Ross from San Francisco is to take the 101 north across the Golden Gate Bridge and exit 479 Railroad Ave and go left. Right at Stony Point Rd, left at Robber Rd, make a right at Valley Ford Rd and continue on CA-1 past Bodega Bay. From my experience highway 116/W, is difficult navigating some of the turns without going into oncoming traffic. Highway 1 north of Jenner is winding with some very tight turns, if you can it is best to travel during the day if you are driving a large vehicle.
There a no major super markets near Fort Ross, so if you need supplies you might want to pick it up in Petaluma. If you have any questions and or you need a motor home please call me Mike Green at 415.730.7127 or 818.317.7099.