Wind energy used for Norilsk narrow-gauge railway construction
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Wind energy used for Norilsk narrow-gauge railway construction

November 17, 2022

Launching the first railway beyond the Arctic Circle, the Norilsk people came up with the most unexpected solutions.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The Norilsk railway construction began in 1936 and was fraught with many difficulties. The first narrow-gauge railway was literally made of snow and ice: the sleepers were laid on snow embankments sprinkled with water. The first bridges were also built from ice.

Obviously, in the summer, many sections of such a road melted, and the rails in many places hung in the air. Therefore, the narrow-gauge railway construction continued for more than a year.

There were also problems with other resources. For example, in the early years, water for steam locomotives had to be collected along the way, from nearby lakes. And there were cases when passengers were forced to carry it – in their own boots.

In June 1937, an order was issued prohibiting throwing cigarette butts on the railroad tracks. The reason for the order was that tundra peat was used on the embankments, which could smolder and burn out for many kilometers. So, on the stretch between the Papaninskaya station and the Kommunarka station, more than 100 meters of a peat embankment burned down due to careless handling of fire.

The Norilsk people, however, showed considerable ingenuity. For example, in the 1930s, not only steam locomotives with wagons, but also trolleys under sails ran on the railway. Railway workers used free wind energy, which is in abundance in Taimyr. This happened for the speedy repair of damaged sections of the road, because of which steam locomotives could not be allowed on the track.

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we told about the plant for the coniferous extract production to combat scurvy in the 1940s.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

November 17, 2022

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