Suna River at the Girvas Waterfall


The Murmansk Railroad was built by the Russian government during World War I to connect Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) to the ice-free port of Romanov-on-Murman (now Murmansk). Construction lasted from 1914 to the spring of 1917 when the line was completed. Along the route were the Por-Porog Rapids on the Suna River, in the Kondopoga region of Karelia. Seen here are the jagged rocks at the top of the rapids, before the Suna enters Lake Voronovo. Visible on the other side are logs caught in the rapids on the way to a sawmill downriver. Because of the multiple exposures required by the photographer’s process, the flow of water in the rapids appears as a boiling white mass and elsewhere appears to have a rainbow-like coloration. The ridge in the background has a dense forest of aspen, fir, and pine. 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. Support for his work was renewed during the First World War, and in 1916 he was commissioned to photograph scenes along the new railroad. During his work on the project he also photographed the natural wonders of the regions he visited.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Река Суна у водопада Гирвач [i.e. Гирвас]

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

Last updated: September 23, 2016