Railroad Bridge across the Onda River


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. Seen here is the wooden railroad bridge over the Kem River near its mouth at the Kem Bay in the White Sea. The bridge makes use of wooden components produced from the ample supply of timber from the forests of the region. These wooden components display great ingenuity, particularly in the truss work of the two-tiered structure beneath the track bed. The bridge rests on log piers filled with rock ballast. At the far end of the bridge is a work train, and uniformed figures are seen standing next to the workers’ car. Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) applied the technique of multiple exposures to create this photograph, causing a walking person to be separated into green and red components. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Ж. д. мост через реку Онду

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