Volga River Steamers

Volga River Steamers

The use of steam boats on the Volga River began in the year 1821.


Rapid development

Formerly tens of thousands of burlaki, or Volga boatmen, were employed in dragging boats up the Volga and its tributaries, but this method of traction has disappeared unless from a few of the tributaries. Horses are still extensively used along the three canal systems. Steamers really took hold in the 1840s. The first steamer "Volga" visited to Samara in 1846. In 1858, the Nizhny Novgorod Machine Factory produced the first Russian steam dredger. The amount of suspended matter brought down by erosion is correspondingly great. All along its course the Volga is eroding and destroying its banks with great rapidity; towns and loading ports have constantly to be shifted farther back.

The first large steamers of the American type were built in 1872. Thousands of steamers are now employed in the traffic, to say nothing of smaller boats and rafts. Many of the steamers use as fuel mazut or petroleum refuse. Large numbers of the boats and rafts are broken up after a single voyage. In [1870] , the first Russian open hearth furnace was built in Nizhny Novgorod, followed by a two-decked steamship "Perevorot" just a year later. In 1913, it produced a dry bulk cargo ship "Danilikha". The shipyard built 489 ships between 1849 and 1918.

The largest fleet of any of Soviet rivers is that on the Volga, where in 1926 there were 1,604 steamers with an indicated total horse power of 300,595. On January 1, 1927, the Internal Waterways Steamship Co. had at its disposal 2,020 steamers. Batashev's steamers were on par with the world-famous ones produced by Berdov, and were installed on the majority of Volga steamships.

Word War II and beyond

During the Battle of Stalingrad, one indomitable tug "Krasnoflotets" crossed the river towing barges of men, food and ammunition, constantly under the fire of the German guns. The tug made many journeys until it was too damaged to continue. In the post-war years, new steamers of the Josef Stalin type were built and navigated the river. A few of them survived. Today, the river is worked by diesel cruise boats and tugs.

Notable events and popular culture

In 1913, the Romanovs boarded the steamer "Mezhen" at Nizhny Novgorod to sail down the Volga river for their 500th Anniversary tour.

Maxim Gorky, the writer, worked as a cook on a Volga steamer in his youth and thus the Volga river enters Russian literature: stories where a young officer encounters a beautiful stranger on board a Volga steamer.

ee also

*Lev Tolstoy class steamship
*Ryazan class steamship

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