Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Old Photos

Here are a couple of photos I saw today that come from the Library of Congress' Prokudin-Gorskii Collection. They're from Russia back in the 1910s, the time just before World War I and the revolutions that turned Russia into the Soviet Union.

This guy ran a province, and yet he's just out sitting on the dirt near a lawn that clearly hasn't been mowed in a while. Times have changed.

Caption: Isfandiyar, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm(Khiva), full-length portrait, seated outdoors (between 1905 and 1915)

Image credit: Prokudin-Gorskii/Library Of Congress

This one interests me for obvious reasons. It's a long railroad bridge over the Kama River in Siberia. Note how the pylons have prows on one side, presumably the upriver side. This had to have been quite an engineering feat in its day, given both its size and how remote Siberia was from the rest of Russia at the time.

Caption: Trans-Siberian Railway metal truss bridge on stone piers, over the Kama River near Perm, Ural Mountains Region (1910)

Image credit: Prokudin-Gorskii/Library Of Congress

The Boston Globe-Times has an online article showing these and many other photographs. I must caution that all the images are on that one page, so it will take a while to download.


One Fly said...

I assume the prows are angled to assist in minimizing debris that could get hung up.

Cujo359 said...

That's a good point. I'd assumed they were to help withstand the erosion of the pylons by water. Considering that it's Siberia, though, your idea makes sense. There would be ice flows rather frequently in the spring, I imagine.

Expat said...

What an exquisite set of photos, been bookmarked, and the age they were taken is an incredible technological accomplishment.

It is not a wonder that indelibly impressed into the being of every Russian is the wellspring of Mother Russia. These photos reveal why.

For the bridge pier design, the spring breakup of ice is the only reasonable answer. Only ice propelled by the weight of surging water would require that form to protect the bridge piers. Similar abutments are seen on bridge piers where there is a lot of boat traffic, also protecting the pier from collisions, e.g. bridges on the Thames in London and Seine in Paris.

Cujo359 said...

As you may be able to see in the background, Expat, there was some shipping on that river. It would be logical that there were would be prows on both sides if it were to protect the pylons from ships.

They certainly are beautiful photos, and I find them fascinating as a look back into a long lost time and place. I sometimes get a similar feeling seeing photos of America from that time.