Travel in Siberia

Circumbaykal Railway (a part of the Trans-Siberian Railway)

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You can visit this sight on tour:

  • Active-excursion tour - "The Road To The Heart Of Baikal"
  • Excursion-ethnographical tour - "The Gaeser Land"
  • In the 17th and 18th centuries the principal Russian interest in Siberia was the highly profitable fur trade. Great quantities of Siberian furs were exported, first to Europe and later to China. During this period the Russian population of Siberia remained small, limited by difficult communications, harsh climatic conditions, and restrictions on migration from European Russia. Large-scale migration began only in the mid-19th century; it grew spectacularly in the last few decades of czarist rule. This influx was encouraged by overpopulation in some areas of European Russia, the abolition of serfdom in 1861, and the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway from 1891 to 1900, which greatly facilitated transportation and communications.

    The use of Siberian exile for punishment of criminals and political offenders began almost immediately after the conquest, but accelerated with the rise of the Russian revolutionary movement in the 19th century.

    The Trans-Siberian Railway greatly influenced the composition and size of the population of Siberia.

    After the railroad’s completion in the early 1900s, Russian people migrated to Siberia in much larger numbers than before, greatly increasing Russian presence in the region. Tsar Alexander III conceived of the railroad in the late 19th century, and construction on several sections took place simultaneously.

    The Trans-Siberian Railroad links the economy of Siberia with the rest of the world. The railroad, which has fueled the development of trades and industries in Siberia, has led to an associated population growth in the region. The longest railroad in the world, the 8000 km (5000 mi) Trans-Siberian crosses a vast area made up mostly of the Asian part of the former Soviet Union.

    The construction of the Circumbaikal Railway encouraged the further investigation of the lake. A large hydrogeographical expedition headed by F. Drizhenko (1896-1902) gave a detailed atlas of the Baikal depths and its sailing directions that are used by the Baikal sailors up to this day.

    The construction of the Circumbaikal Railway as part of Trans-Siberian Railway (the section from Port Baikal on the south-western shore of the lake) to Mysovaya Station (on the south-eastern shore) took 4 years.

    Ancient crystal rocks, granite, gneiss, gabbro, diabases, possess enormous strength; the steep rocky shores precipitously go under water, forcing railroad builders to make excavations and niches in rocky cliffs, and to construct arches and tunnels.

    The railway is 84 km long. It includes not only Russian engineering design of that time but also the hard work of Russian, Polish, Italian and English workers. The Circumbaikal Railway needed 200 bridges and 33 tunnels. Within the 56-mile section from Kultuk to Port Baikal alone there are 48 arches and tunnels. And how many bridges and supporting walls! It is no coincidence that this part is rightly regarded as the museum of Russian engineering thought, and foreign tourists respectfully name it the golden buckle of the Great Siberian Trail.

    While the Trans-Siberian section was under construction, the Russian government placed an order in Newcastle, England, for a ferry/ice-breaker Baikal, which could hold 24 cars and one locomotive on its middle deck. It took the ice-breaker 4 hours to carry the train from one shore to the other. Up to 1916 the icebreaker served on the railway as a reserve variant because trains used to come off the rails frequently. The icebreaker was destroyed by burning during the Civil War.

    Three years later after Baikal, an ice-breaker Angara was also built in England for carrying cargo and passengers. Both of these Baikal giants were assembled in Listvyanka, on the southwestern shore of the lake, where a shipyard was built especially for this purpose.

    The railway, its construction and exploitation, had been proceeded by great scientific activities in investigating the geology, hydrology, climate, and seismics of Baikal on the whole, as well as the territory throughout which the road was lain and exploited for years.

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