Ice-Breaking Ferry "Baikal"


This album of six photographs depicts the launch of the icebreaking ferry Baikal at the village of Listvenichnoye on the western shore of Lake Baikal on June 17, 1899. Before completion of the Circum-Baikal Railway in 1905, the lake marked a break in the Trans-Siberian Railway linking European Russia with Vladivostok. To connect the western and eastern portions of the railroad, the committee in charge of the Trans-Siberian decided to purchase an icebreaking ferry capable of shuttling passengers and railroad cars across the lake in winter. A contract was placed with the shipbuilding firm of V.G. Armstrong and Company in Newcastle, United Kingdom. The icebreaker was transported in sections from Newcastle to Listvenichnoye, where it was assembled in 1898–99. After entering service, the ship made two journeys each day across the lake, carrying approximately 300 passengers and crew and up to 27 railroad cars. Following completion of the Circum-Baikal Railway, the Baikal remained in service until 1918. A second and smaller icebreaker, the Angara, entered service on the lake in 1900. Located in eastern Siberia near the Russian border with Mongolia, Lake Baikal is 636 kilometers long; its average width is 48 kilometers (80 kilometers at the widest point). It is the oldest and deepest lake in the world, with a volume of water approximately equal to the total volume of the Great Lakes of North America, or to about 20 per cent of all freshwater on earth.

Last updated: December 11, 2017