Mouth of the Kem 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. Among the natural features near this route was the Kem River, which originates in the Lower Kuito Lake of Karelia and flows 191 kilometers (much of this length through other lakes) to the West Solovetsk Salma Strait of the White Sea. Seen in this view toward the northeast is the mouth of the Kem River at the point where it flows into the Kem Bay of the White Sea. The photograph was taken from Large Lepa Island, looking toward Small Lepa Island. Visible in the center is the Chapel of the Nativity of John the Baptist, which some sources date to the late 17th century, although it may have been rebuilt in the late 18th century. The log chapel has plank siding that is painted white. 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 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 regions along the route.
Title in Original Language
Устье реки Кемь
Type of Item
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