- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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in course of time been founded, once more to fall
to ruin—such as the Bulgars in Bulgary, the
Khazars in the south, the Mongols, the Tatars,
and others, until the Russians established their
power from the north and the west. But the Volga
in its broad winding bed bears its mighty yellow
brown flood through the flat broad plain as it has
done through thousands of years, and did long
before man showed himself. The only result to be
seen from man’s presence is that the forests, which
held back the moisture, have been more and more
cut down, and thus the river-floods, when the snow
melts in spring, have been swollen, but they have
also become short-lasting.
The lively traffic on the Volga goes mostly up
the river towards the Baltie ; and the canal joining
it up with the Neva has made Leningrad the chief
port for the Volga. To Leningrad fifteen times as
much goods is shipped as to Astrakhan, mostly
fish, metals, manufactured goods, hides, corn,
flour, flax, petroleum, oils, salt, and timber. The
goods that are shipped down the river are mostly
manufactured ones, and also timber for the treeless
provinces of Samara, Saratov, and Astrakhan. Many
barges, too, are broken up for their timber after
making the journey once down the river with a load.
The river is always changing its course, and has
to be dredged every year. Ships often run on to the
sand-banks ; near the most dangerous ones there are
generally steamers stationed to help them off again.
In former days there were tens of thousands of
haulers (burlaki), who used to drag the boats and

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