Tracking an Impressive Engineering Feat: The Trans-Siberian Railway


The Titanic, completed in 1912, was an engineering accomplishment never before seen. But it pales in comparison to an even greater achievement completed in the same century on the other side of the planet: the Trans-Siberian railway.

Siberia is a vast and remote region in northern Russia. In the Tartar language of the Trukic people, its name means “the sleeping land.” One of the coldest locations on earth, Siberia experiences temperatures that can drop to nearly 90 degrees bellow zero Fahrenheit.

Very little was thought of Siberia, which was just populated by natives, until pioneers noticed the treasures it had to offer. In fact, Siberia is home to many minerals, resources like coal, oil, iron, and gold, and approximately half of the world’s tree population.

Because of Siberia’s wealth of natural resources, Russia decided to build a railway through this cold and dangerous land. Construction began on the Trans-Siberian railroad in 1891 and was completed in 1905. The early days of this railway saw a variety of uses including the transportation of criminals and political prisoners.

A notable obstacle railway workers encountered while building the railroad was Lake Baikal, one of the deepest lakes in the world. Prior to the railroad’s construction, passengers had to be ferried across this massive body of water. However, following the establishment of the railway, people could avoid the ferry passage and travel more easily via tracks around the southern end of the lake.

Once completed, the more than five thousand mile Trans-Siberian railway stretched from Moscow, Russia, to Beijing, China, and passed many additional places including Mongolia, the Gobi desert, and the Great Wall. This passage replaced a once three-month journey with an approximately one-week trip.

Today, the Trans-Siberian railway is used for transporting minerals and wood. It remains one of the most impressive architectural and engineering feats in human history.

[Source: 100 Great Wonders of the World]

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