General-Gora, Murmansk Oblast, Russia

The Murmansk Railroad was built by the Russian government during World War I to connect Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) to the ice-free port of Romanov-on-Murman (now Murmansk). Construction lasted from 1914 to the spring of 1917 when the line was completed. Shown here is a section of track approaching the village of Kappeselga (in Karelia) from the south. This view reveals the extensive earthworks necessary in laying a rail line over marshy terrain. Visible in the distance are log houses in the village. On the rise to the left is the Church of Saint George, built in 1899 (not extant). The church was constructed of logs with plank siding painted white. The photographer often misidentifies a number of localities in the Kondopoga region as Kannesemga (Kappeselga), but in this case he mistakenly identifies Kappeselga as Medvezhia Gora. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire. Support for his work was renewed during the First World War, and in 1916 he was commissioned to photograph scenes along the new railroad.

Epic Russia Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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