The Old Magasin
This two-story Russian-American Company warehouse, or magasin, functioned both as company store and as a warehouse where supplies for agricultural operations and hunting were documented, assessed and stored for distribution. Reconstruction of the fur warehouse (“magasin”) and interpretive display was completed by California State Parks in 2012. Click here for the warehouse brochure.
Goods stored in the warehouse reflected extensive Russian trade with Spanish and later Mexican California, as well as Britain, the United States, Europe and China. The Pacific Coast as far north as the northern boundary of the current state of Washington was claimed by England and Spain. In 1812 the Spanish had no settlement north of the Presidio of San Francisco.
The Governor of Spanish Alta California, José Joaquin de Arrillaga, was friendly with the Russians, and profited by trade. After his death, the Spanish took a harder line, demanding the removal of the Russian colony. While trade with the Russians was strictly forbidden by Madrid, the Spanish colonists found ways to get around the rules, and trade between Settlement Ross and the Spanish colonies flourished. Eager to buy goods made by the Russians, the Spanish traded food grown in the Missions, which was sent to the Alaskan settlements. When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, trade with Ross assumed even greater importance as the Russians provided military goods to the former Spanish colony, which no longer had a mother country to supply it.