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Fort Ross shows off new Russian-built windmill

  • The Fort Ross windmill, Saturday Oct. 20, 2012 was recently finished. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

The 39-foot tall windmill sat on the bluff at Fort Ross State Historic Park on Saturday, the vanes straining in the onshore winds, a reminder that although the Russians may have built a fortress, the settlement was really a peaceful colony.

"The Russians brought language, some culture and some technology and built this windmill because people needed to be fed," said Rinat Umarov, an official with the Link of Times Foundation, a Russian cultural and historic foundation.

"The Russians were here in peace and this windmill is a symbol of that peace," he said.

Fort Ross Windmill

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Link of Times financed the $380,000 windmill, which was hand-made in Kirillov, Russia, then disassembled and shipped to Northern California to be reassembled at the park, located on the Sonoma Coast 12 miles north of Jenner.

The windmill was timed to be finished as part of the 200th anniversary of the fort's founding in 1812. It was a draw Saturday for visitors to the Fort Ross Harvest Festival.

"It looks pretty good. I have never seen one like this before. It is impressive," said Howard Rosenberg of Antioch.

"It is fascinating," said Linda Pixley of Denver, Colo.

Architect Anton Maltsev of the Restoration Centre in Moscow and architect Aleksander Popov, the center's director, took four months to build the windmill in Kirillov, a city where windmills had traditionally been built, using designs and techniques that evolved since 1100 AD.

"There is a huge amount of human intellect in this building, a huge amount of wisdom," said Keith Alward of Alward Construction in Berkeley, who helped with the construction at Fort Ross. The architectural firm of Page & Turnbull, which has offices in San Francisco, was hired by Link of Times to convert the drawings of the authentic design, provide engineering and assist with the construction at Fort Ross.

The windmill took three weeks to reassemble and get it into operating shape, so it can actually be used to grind wheat into flour.


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