- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
236

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
barges along the banks up the river, and it is from
them that the well-known Volga songs come; but
now in the day of the tug-boat these haulers are
found only along some of the tributaries. For towing
along the canals horses are used.
All this shipping activity and busy water-traffic
on the Volga lasts through the summer and
autumn. But then the temperature sinks, a tempe
rature which in July reaches 25°-26° C. in the
water south of Saratov, and in the delta and about
Astrakhan up to 28-5° C. It gradually draws near
to o°C, and in November ice begins to form ;
the river little by little loses all its life, and all
shipping movements come to an end. But as soon
as the ice is thick enough, it måkes for three or
four months a splendid highway for a lively sledge
traffic up and down the river, or across it. The
railways, too, make use of it ; rails are laid from
bank to bank at places where are no bridges, and
so the goods-wagons are tåken over without the
costly use of ice-breakers. The ice reaches an
average thickness of 70-90 centimetres, but may
even be 1-5 metres on the lower Volga. In the
spring the ice breaks up again about the ioth
2Oth of April on the lower Volga, and about the
I4th of March at Astrakhan, and the drift-ice comes
with its huge floating masses, which pile themselves
up high along the banks ; woe then to the boat that
is not lying well sheltered ! This lasts for a week or
two, and then the Volga is open again for traffic.
North of Astrakhan the river banks keep low,
236

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