Source of the Volga. Volgoverkhove


In May 1910, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed in the Ostashkov area of Tver Province. Shown here is a primitive wooden chapel over one of the sources of the Volga River at the village of Volgoverkhove (“upper reaches of Volga”). From these marshy origins, the stream flows through a forest and two small lakes before entering a chain of lakes that begins with Lake Sterzh and Lake Peno. Prokudin-Gorskii also photographed the stream at the village of Sterzh near its entry into Lake Sterzh, which was considered the beginning of a course that in Prokudin-Gorskii’s day extended for some 3,690 kilometers. The chapel is crowned with a cross. Access over the marsh is provided by a wooden pathway with a railing. The chapel had an opening in its floor through which the source could be seen. In the background is recent forest growth of birch and conifers. The mud in the foreground is marked with hooves. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s 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

Исток Волги. Волговерховье

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: October 7, 2016