Barracks for Prisoners of War along the Murmansk Railway


The Murmansk Railroad was built by the Russian government during World War I to connect Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) to the ice-free port of Murmansk. Construction lasted from 1914 to the spring of 1917 when the line was completed. Because of a labor shortage caused by the war, German and Austrian prisoners were pressed into service on the project from 1915 to 1917, particularly on the 1,054-kilometer northern section from Petrozavodsk to the tip of the Kola Peninsula. This view shows houses built of pine logs for settlers at the Medvezh’ia Gora Station. In the background is a forest of tall pines. Although not completed in time to have a major effect on Russia’s efforts in World War I, the Murmansk Railroad was to prove immensely important as a link for Lend-Lease shipments during the World War II. 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 parts of the empire. This support was renewed during World War I, and in 1916 Prokudin-Gorskii photographed construction work along the Murmansk Railroad.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Бараки для военнопленных по Мурм. ж. д.

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: November 14, 2017