The Wreck of the Sv. Nikolai


The Wreck of the Sv. Nikolai

Edited and with an introduction by Kenneth N. Owens
Translated by Alton S. Donnelly
With a new preface by the editor

110 pages
Illus., maps


February 2001


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About the Book

In 1808 the Sv. Nikolai, owned by the Russian American Company, set sail from New Arkhangel (modern-day Sitka, Alaska) to explore and identify a site for a permanent Russian fur trading post on the mainland south of Vancouver Island. Heavy seas drove the ship aground in late December, forcing twenty-two crew members ashore, including Anna Petrovna Bulygin, the wife of ship captain Nikolai Isaakovich Bulygin. Over the next several months the shipwrecked crew clashed with Hohs, Quileutes, and Makahs, but with little knowledge of the country, the castaways soon found themselves owing their lives to the very tribes they had fought with upon arrival. The tribes captured and enslaved several of the crew members. In 1810 an American captain sailing for the Russian American Company ransomed the survivors.
This volume combines two source accounts of the event. The first is the story of a Russian survivor, Timofei Osipovich Tarakanov, the expedition's leader after the shipwreck. The second is a Quileute account, preserved orally for nearly a century before being recorded in 1909. Combined, these wonderful accounts tell a tale of adventure with moments of high drama, heroism, a touch of comedy, and eventual tragedy.

Author Bio

Kenneth N. Owens is a professor emeritus of history at California State University, Sacramento, and the editor of John Sutter and a Wider West (Nebraska 1994). Alton S. Donnelly is a professor emeritus of history at SUNY, Binghamton, and coeditor of History of the Russian-American Company.

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