Baikal Irkutsk Trans Siberian

Irkutsk: Ice-Breaker “Angara” 

The vessel called ice-breaker “Angara” is parked near Irkutsk hydroelectric dam. The history of the ship is tightly connected with the history of Trans-Siberian Railway track which went around Lake Baikal from the small settlement port Baikal at the south-western shore to Mysovaya station on the south-eastern shore. The railway track is called Circum-Baikal railroad. The part of it which went along the steep north-western shore of the southern extremity of the lake contains over 48 arches and tunnels and a great number of bridges and supporting walls. This short railway track is regarded as the museum of civil engineering, and people respectfully named it “the Golden buckle on the steel belt of Russia”.

While this Trans-Siberian section was under construction the Russian Government placed an order in Newcastle, England for ferries – ice-breakers “Angara” and “Baikal”. The last one could hold 24 train carriages and 1 locomotive on the middle deck. The “Baikal” ferry used to be a 4-funneled vessel 64 meter (290 ft) long with 15 boilers which burnt wood fuel. It was constructed by British company “Sir Armstrong, Mitchell and company”. The engines, boilers and some other parts were made in St. Petersburg.

All the parts of these two ships were packed up for a long immense journey across Russia. In 1897 the first parcels began to arrive to Lystvyanka Settlement where marine engineers were waiting to rebuild ships at the local ship building plant. The vessels were used to carry trains and passengers to another shore of the lake during the period of construction of the Circum Baikal railroad when it was still impossible to move along the shore by rail. It took the ice-breakers 4 hours to carry the train from one shore to the other. Up to 1916 the ice-breakers served on the railway as a reserve variant as trains used to come off rails frequently. The “Baikal” ice-breaker perished during the Civil War, it was burnt down.

The “Angara” vessel survived. At the moment this ship is parked in Irkutsk. It was turned into office premises. The part of it is museum of local history, and another part of the ship houses local newspaper.
Irkutsk: Ice-Breaker “Angara”

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