Norilsk snow fences inventor was called Father Snow Blower
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Norilsk snow fences inventor was called Father Snow Blower

March 23, 2022

Mikhail Potapov was a railway worker, he worked at the Moscow-Kazan railway. There, his invention - a grass burner – draw attention of marshal Tuhachevsky and was used in the defense industry.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In 1937, Potapov was arrested, including for his connection with the disgraced marshal, and sentenced to ten years of forced labor camps. He came to Norilsk in 1939, after Solovki. At first he did common work but in 1940, Potapov was instructed to organize a snow protection system in Norilsk.

Mikhail Potapov

Since 1943, his group became an experimental research station. His main inventions were born to improve the methods of dealing with snow.

The clearing of drifts was first carried out manually. Every day, up to four thousand people were engaged in this, losses reached eight million rubles a year. Potapov walked a hundred-kilometer route to Dudinka, drew up a project for the placement of stationary snow fences along the narrow gauge railway.

He invented snow protecting fences of a completely new design: the wind rushed out from under them with such force that it swept snow from the road.

In 1950, Mikhail Potapov received a copyright certificate for his snow protection structures.

The Norilsk people called him Father Snow Blower. There was even a local joke: “If you meet the Father Snow Blower – there will be a blizzard!” In 1944, he was released ahead of schedule – Zavenyagin helped.

In 1950 Potapov left for Kansk. There – a second arrest in the old case, the exile was allowed to be served in Norilsk. Potapov died in 1954.

In the last issue of the History Spot photo project we told about why one of the Norilsk streets was named after Vladimir Kotulsky.

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Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

March 23, 2022

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