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Replica of 19th-century windmill rising at Fort Ross

  • Alexander Popov, left, and Anton Maltsev built a replica of a 19th century windmill using hand tools in Russia, then disassembled it and shipped it to Ft. Ross State Park to be rebuilt.

The calendar has been turned back 200 years at Fort Ross, where a windmill is being built just as it had been when the Russians first settled there, with hand tools and hand-hewn logs.

The construction of the windmill is also in stark contrast to the fortress that now defines Fort Ross, and is a recognition that the site was more of a colony than a military outpost.

"For the Russian people, there were two important objects, the church and the windmill — the church because it was bread for your soul and the windmill, bread for your body," said Olga Miller of the Renova Fort Ross Foundation, a Russian organization that has provided financial support to the state park.

Fort Ross Windmill

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The new windmill was built in Kirillov, Russia, where the windmills were built two centuries ago, then disassembled and shipped to Fort Ross.

The pieces arrived in two containers Friday, and by Monday the main feature, a central post, was in place to support and serve as the swivel for the windmill.

"This was the first for California," said Anton Maltsev, an architect with the Restoration Centre in Moscow, which built the replica windmill. "Before this, they didn't know windmills."

The replica windmill is part of the 200th anniversary celebration of the founding of Fort Ross.

The windmill logs, wooden gears and bracing are pine, spruce and birch. There are two 200-year-old millstones that were in old Russian windmills. Braces and iron fittings are hand-forged.

It will be assembled over the next two to three weeks by Russian craftsmen using wooden pegs, axes, adzes and drawknives.

The original windmill was one of two that were constructed at Fort Ross to grind grain for bread and pound tanbark for oil used in tanning leather.


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