During the expedition of 1925-1926, Nikolay Urvantsev’s group brought three Renault caterpillar tractors with loaded sledges from Dudinka.
The machines intended for agricultural work were not adapted to the path through the polar snowdrifts. For example, their cabins were made of tarpaulin and did not protect at all from frost and winds. That first toboggan trip on tractors from Dudinka to Norilsk lasted 34 days.
In 1935, the first trucks appeared at the combine construction – mainly GAZ-AA, ZIS-5, dump trucks YAS-3. At that time, they only dreamed of warm workshops and garages.
All equipment stood and repaired in the open air. To change the details in 50-degree frost, the mechanics used several sets of keys: when one of them froze, it was warmed up over a fire.
In 1939, the first warm garage and a small repair shop were commissioned. But with the beginning of the war, the delivery of spare parts and gasoline to Norilsk completely stopped. Technicians had to come up with ways to convert car engines to kerosene and solid fuel, and chemists invented a recipe for distilling gasoline from diesel fuel. Spare parts and even spark plugs also had to be learned to do right on the spot.
In 1941, the first passenger bus appeared in Norilsk. True, it was converted from a truck. In 1945, the Norilsk people were already transported by three such “funnels”, as this homemade public transport was nicknamed in the village.
1944 navigation brought about a hundred American cars: Studebaker, Chevrolet, Mac. Domestic buses and dump trucks also appeared.
By 1960, the car park and road network in Norilsk had expanded so much that there was a need for street traffic lights. At first, those were yellow flashing lights, warning of intersections. The machine, which switched traffic lights, regulating traffic, appeared a little later.
For other issues of our photo project about the history of the city and the combine, go to the History spot section.
Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive