1946. Oblong Folio album (ca. 20x30 cm). 21 card stock leaves. With 39 mounted original gelatin silver photos including one large folding panorama ca. 13x42 cm (5 ¼ x 16 ½ in); the other photos ca. 10.5x15 cm (4 ¼ x 6 in). All photos with printed captions in Russian on the mounts. First leaf with a detailed printed title. Period black full cloth album with gilt lettered title on the front board. Period official ink stamp on the title page; the inner sides of both boards with period pencil and ink official notes. The note on the inner side of the rear board, signed by a technician of Moscow office V. Lavrionov, testifies that the album is complete and has no losses (1950). Period pencil notes on both sides of the rear board; binding slightly rubbed on extremities but overall a very good album with strong rare photos.
Historically significant collection of early original gelatin silver photographs illustrating the construction of the easternmost section of the Baikal-Amur Magistral Railway, the second Russian link to the Pacific Ocean after the Trans-Siberian Railway. The eastern section stretches from Komsomolsk-on-Amur to Sovetskaya Gavan on the Pacific coast and crosses the Sikhote Alin ridge. The railway was constructed in 1943-1945 by labor camp inmates under the administration of the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD), an agency tasked with extrajudicial executions of citizens and the administration of forced labor camps.
In 1933, the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR adopted a resolution "On the Construction of the Baikal-Amur Magistral." Initial work on the BAM project was carried out under the supervision of NKVD from 1933 until the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War in 1941. Two years later, the Soviet authorities revived the idea of the Baikal-Amur Magistral, focusing on its easternmost section from Komsomolsk-on-Amur to Sovetskaya Gavan via the Sikhote Alin ridge (475 km). The construction crew was tasked with building the railway within two years; however, challenging geological conditions of the Sikhote Alin mountains compromised the state goal. After an additional survey conducted by the Sikhote Alin expedition, Soviet engineers developed a new, time-saving route with only one tunnel (Kuznetsovsky) on the ridge. The new route of the eastern section was completed on July 15, 1945, in less than two years of construction.
The album, commemorating the completion of the railway and intended for internal use only, starts with six general views of the Sikhote Alin mountains and the nearby areas (valleys of the Udomi and Khungari rivers, etc.). Over dozen photos capture the construction and depict transportation of rails over the Sikhote Alin pass, basalt in the recess “Pik,” excavations, explosions, etc. Labor-camp inmates and special machinery are clearly visible in several photos. Ten photos show different BAM structures: bridges (over the Gayter and Khungari rivers), stations (Khungari and Muli), passing loops (Sollu and Kuznetsovsky), etc. The album also contains two photographs of both entrances of the Kuznetsovsky tunnel with hanging portraits of Stalin and Lavrentiy Beria. On June 26, 1953, Beria, Minister of Internal Affairs, was arrested for treason and executed in a few months. Photos and printed editions commemorating the former official were actively destroyed in the following years.
A large folding panorama shows the general view of the Verkhne-Udominskaya loop ascending to the Sikhote Alin ridge. There is also an interesting photograph of the construction head, Fedor Gvozdevsky (1901-1962), hammering the last spike in the rail track on July 15, 1945.
Eight photos relate to the Amur River and show the construction of a ferry line, a newly built pumping station, high-water berth, the ice drift, hummocks, etc. One of the photographs depicts the celebration of the launching of the first railway ferry across the Amur River. The berth is decorated with banners and a portrait of a Soviet official.
The album ends with two triumphant photos of the first train traversing the Sikhote Alin pass and approaching the Pacific Ocean. Overall, an important visual source on the history of the Baikal-Amur Magistral Railway.