Contractor's Wooden Barracks. Oka River


The Oka River is a major western tributary of the Volga, which it enters at the city of Nizhnii Novgorod. The Oka is fed by the Moscow River, which joins it just south of Kolomna. Maintaining the river in a navigable state required a sizeable work force. This 1912 view shows large log barracks built by a labor contractor, apparently near the village of Beloomut in present-day Moscow Oblast. On the far left is an open shelter for meals, with a number of workers seated. On the right are stacks of firewood. Because of the great distances and dearth of good roads, river networks were critical for transportation in Russia since the early medieval period and they remained so in the 20th century. 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 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 parts of the empire. Although he photographed primarily along railways, much of Prokudin-Gorskii’s work for the ministry was also devoted to water transportation.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Бараки подрядчика. Река Ока

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 22, 2015