Asha-Balashovskii Iron Works


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. In the summer of 1910 Prokudin-Gorskii traveled along the Samara-Zlatoust Railway (built in 1885–90; now the Ufa-Chelyabinsk line). Seen here is the Balashovskii Factory, founded in 1898 by Nikolai and Ivan Balashov, who owned a number of factories in the Sim River area. This factory produced pig iron and cast iron, which was then reworked in other factories. On the left is the tower of the blast furnace, which began operating in 1900. By the beginning of the First World War, the factory also housed open hearth furnaces in the central buildings. The enterprise generated its own electricity and was largely self-contained. The lopped birch tree in the foreground deftly conveys the sense of a factory hewn from the dense forests of the Ural Mountains. 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

Железноделательный Аша-Балашовский завод

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