Stratification on the Chertovo Gorodishche


From 1909 to 1912, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) made several trips to the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, urban settings, and natural scenes. Prokudin-Gorskii is best-known for his photographs of people and historic buildings; he also took photos of striking geographical features. Shown here is part of a natural wonder known as Chertovo Gorodishche (Devil’s Fort) in the region of Ekaterinburg, the major city in the area (named Sverdlovsk 1924–91). The “fort” is formed by a massive outcropping of sedimentary rock (a karst formation typical of the western Urals) eroded into shapes that resemble walls and towers. This photograph, like others in this series, shows the stratification of the rock. The eroded material around the rock provided rich soil for a dense cover of birch trees, seen in fall foliage here in September 1909. Because of the difficult terrain, this site was largely inaccessible until the construction of a railroad through this part of the Urals in the early 1880s. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Наслоения на Чертовом Городище

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 28, 2016