Sar Waterfall at Vyg Lake


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. Among the natural features near this route was the Lower (Nizhnii) Vyg River, which flows 102 kilometers from Lake Vygozero in Karelia to the Onega Bay of the White Sea. The caption for this image identifies this scene as the Sar Waterfall (officially known as the Voitskii), situated at the point where the river flows from Lake Vygozero. Seen on the right are pine and fir trees growing on Elovyi (“fir”) Island. In the background (on the left), is the village Nadvoitsy (“above the Voitsa River”), containing a 19th-century wooden church dedicated to Saint Zosima and Saint Savvatii. Along the lake shore are log bathhouses. Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) applied the technique of multiple exposures to create this photograph, causing much of the surface of the water to appear as a blurred white mass. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his 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 this new railroad project; he also photographed scenes in the regions along the route.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Водопад Сар на Выгозере

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