Transportation of Lumber for the Smelting of Iron Ore


In 1909 and 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled extensively in the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, urban settings, and natural landscapes. In this image, birch logs spill down an excavation terrace at the Bakal iron mines, one of the richest sources of ore in the world. The excavations were located on the western slope of Mount Irkuskan (spelled Irkustan in the caption), part of the southwestern Urals in present-day Chelyabinsk Oblast. In 1910 the Bakal mines—which included the Heavy (Tiazhelye) Mines shown here—belonged to the Satkinskii Factory located around 30 kilometers to the northeast. The logs were an essential fuel and source of carbon for the iron smelting process. The workers involved in this heavy labor look intently at the camera during the long exposure time required by Prokudin-Gorskii. They are wearing a variety of caps and hats made of felt and fur. On the right is the supervisor; he has a beard, is dressed in a dark suit, and holds a cane. Visible at the top of the photograph and in the background are the pointed tops of spruce trees. 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

Накатка дров для обжига руды

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