SEVEROBAIKAL’SK - A NEW TOWN
The name Severobaikal’sk is always related to the construction
of the Baikal Amur Mainline (BAM). This is because the foundation of the town
is due to the railway. During the Brezhnev-era, when the need for a second,
northern Trans-Siberian Railway was born, one decided to make the Kap Kurla
area a first central starting point for the railway project. To the west, one
of the major tasks of the BAM was to reach Bratsk from two sides; to the east,
the task was to reach the not yet existing town Tynda. One avoided intentionally
the development of the village Nizneangarsk, located 30 km north of Severobaikal’sk,
due to the morphology of the surrounding area. For the foundation of the new
town a plateau with a solid ground was chosen that allowed further extensions
and development of the town.
The railway project BAM, finally terminated in 2002, was supposed
to bring new hope and economic perspectives to the city and the whole region.
The construction of the BAM was of major importance for the whole Soviet Union.
That was why construction companies from all over the USSR were involved in
the gigantic project. The town-partnership with St. Petersburg broke up in 1984,
the official date of the BAM completion – only the names of two streets
in the town remember that partnership. From this date, the privileged position
of Severobaikal’sk in the USSR with its atmosphere of a booming town was
destroyed. Many plans and projects were already cancelled during the Perestroika;
the following change of market economy gave them the rest.
Because the town is located in a seismically active region, one chooses a special type of construction for the buildings. A hexagonal ground plan of each individual module shows a high resistance toward earthquakes. Further, the houses have no balconies and the rooms have many corners. The city centre is surrounded by suburbs with very poor living conditions that were built in the early stage of town foundation as transitional lodgings – till now many people lived there for more than 25 years without perspectives to an improvement.
According to the age of its inhabitants, Severobaikal’sk
is a very young town; the second generation is becoming adult by now. Ninety
percent of the people are Russian orthodox and 10% Buryats.
Here you can find the towns’ Administration, the Cultural Centre and a shopping mall. Not far from here, the first church of the town is being constructed. On the border of the centre, the BAM and Ethnological Museum documents the history and the development of the BAM and the Trans-Siberian Railway. At the same time the museum informs visitors about the early Buryat settlers and archaeological founds in the northern Baikal area.
The BAM is a railway line in Russia, traversing Eastern Siberia and the Russian
Far East. The 3145 km long BAM runs about 400-700 km north of and parallel with
the Trans-Siberian railway. The route of the present-day BAM was first considered
in the 1880s as an option for the eastern section of the Trans-Siberian railway.
BAM departs from the Trans-Siberian railway at Tayshet, then crosses Angara
at Bratsk, proceeds past Severobaikalsk on the northern tip of Lake Baikal,
crosses the Amur River at Komsomolsk-na-Amure and finally reaches the Pacific
Ocean at Sovetskaya Gavan on the Tatar Strait.
© B. Merkel, 30.11.2004 http://www.geo.tu-freiberg.de/studenten/Baikal_2004/baikalexcursion/history/sibiria/severobaikalsk.htm