Left Bank of Sukhona River, with Wooden Houses (19th-20th Centuries), Tot'ma, Russia


This view of wooden houses on the left bank of the Sukhona River at Tot'ma (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1998 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 Sukhona links the south central part of Vologda Oblast with the northeast part and for centuries was part of an important trading network that led northward to the White Sea. This network, and its links to Saint Petersburg and Moscow, sustained the prosperity of towns such as Tot’ma. Indeed, Tot’ma's range even extended to the New World, via Alaska. Among Tot'ma's notable citizens was Ivan Kuskov, the first commandant of Fort Ross in California. Tot’ma consisted primarily of wooden houses (those visible here date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries), above which rose whitewashed brick churches built largely with donations from local merchants. In the background of this photograph is the late 18th-century Church of the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, with five domes and a large bell tower. Commerce and traffic have dwindled to insignificance on the un-dredged, increasingly silted Sukhona. As a result, the left bank at Tot’ma has seen a proliferation of willows and other trees that obscure the view of houses and churches from the river.

Last updated: January 11, 2016