Dredging Machine, "Sheksninskaia" No. 1, with Scoops and a Delivery Pipeline. Russian Empire


A major component of the Volga-Baltic Waterway (formerly called the Mariinsk Canal System), linking Saint Petersburg with the Volga River basin, is the Sheksna River, which drains the southeastern part of White Lake (Beloe ozero). The original length of the Sheksna was 395 kilometers, from White Lake to the Sheksna’s confluence with the Volga at the town of Rybinsk. At the turn of the 20th century the Ministry of Transportation devoted considerable resources to improving the Sheksna for water transportation. Shown in this 1909 photograph is a self-propelled steam dredge (Sheksna I), which operated between Cherepovets and Rybinsk. The dredge was connected to a floating pipe that delivered the excavated material to shore. Constant dredging was required in order to create a navigation channel in the river’s shallow bed. Members of the crew stand in front of the dredge’s cabins. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Землечерпательная машина "Шекснинская 1-ая" с черпаками и рефулером. [Российская империя]

Type of Item

Physical Description

Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: September 23, 2016