- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
385

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THE AMUR DISTRICT AND AMUR RAILWAY
385
stretches of what was formerly a complete swamp have
now become good arable land, some of which is already
in use, and this change has tåken place since the winter
of 1911-12. Mr. Wourtzel considered that the railway
would soon pay for itself in this region merely by the
new land which it would bring under cultivation. For
part of this drainage-work great excavators are used,
which wc saw in operation. They run on a broad line
of rails temporarily laid over the ground ; they are
driven by steam and look very like large dredgers.
They dig broad channels in a short time, and neatly
deposit the sand and gravel and mud they dig up to
form the new permanent way on their other side, or
load it into trucks, which carry it away to the place
where the line is being built. The water is carried off
in the newly dug channels, and the water-level, or height
of the underground water in the soil, is lowered ; thus
the permanent way is drained, and at the same time
the whole plain is made drier. It is a big piece of work ;
wc saw a regular hill of sand which was in process of
disappearing, simply to furnish material for embanking
the line over the deep bogs. A side line has been
temporarily laid to carry this material, and along it were
many huts for the labourers ; but all this will vanish
again when the railway is finished next year. Here
one is already impressed by the great difficulties the
construction of this line has had to contend with ;
stretch after stretch of it runs through wet land, which
may be best described as swamp.
The weather is so delightfully warm that one quite
forgets it is October. The willows still have green
leaves with some yellow ones among them, but many of
the birches have lost theirs, although here and there
some green leaves are left among the yellow ones. At
the village of Pokrovka wc visited the railway school

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