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  • This photograph of the Irtysh River at Bol'sherech'e was taken in 1999 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. The Irtysh, one of Siberia's mighty rivers, is in fact a tributary of the still greater Ob' River. The Irtysh originates in the extreme northwest part of China, near the Mongolian Altai Mountains. Over its length of 4,248 kilometers, it passes through Kazakhstan and western Siberia before its confluence with the Ob' at the city of Khanty-Mansiisk. Russian settlements along its route include the cities of Omsk and Tobol'sk, as well as historic towns such as Tara and Bol'sherech'e. Founded in 1627 as a fortified cossack settlement, Bol'sherech'e played a role in defending the southwest Siberian border against raids by steppe tribes. After the founding of the Omsk fortress farther south in 1716, Bol'sherech'e became a trading center by virtue of its location on the Irtysh and on the main Moscow-Siberia road that follows the left bank of the Irtysh. Today Bol'sherech'e has some 15,000 residents. Due to the dedication of local enthusiasts, this small town has the distinction of an animal preserve of national status, the Bol'sherech'e State Zoo.

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  • 1 slide: color ; 35 millimeter

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