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The Steam Train Graveyard: Used to be a secret location should war break out

Anastasia Kolomiets

The steam train graveyard is part of a reserve base near Shumkovo railway station in Perm Krai, in the Ural region of Russia. Several dozen steam locomotives and wagons are rotting away here under the sky.

The base was established in 1967, transferred here from the town of Kungur. The first part of the base is still in use. Modern railway vehicles and equipment is stored here, including locomotives, wagons and snowplows, as well as some electric trains which are canceled in the winter months.

©Pavel Raspopov

©Pavel Raspopov

Several hundred meters down the railway track is the steam train graveyard. In the times of the USSR, this place used to be a secret object. The steam trains stored here were intended to be used should World War III break out.

The idea was that if electricity supplies were cut off during an armed conflict, these trains would provide an alternative transportation method.

While steam trains may not seem like an obvious choice, especially keeping in mind their poor energy efficiency, their advantage was that they run on any fuel.

©Pavel Raspopov

©Pavel Raspopov

The trains used to be looked after and lubricated regularly. Up to 140 locomotives were located at the base in Soviet times. Now, rather than a storage, the railway base is a steam train junkyard with some impressive Soviet machinery.

Most of the steam trains here were manufactured in the 1940s-1950s. There are steam trains of different types, but most numerous are the L-type (Lebedyanki). The oldest steam train to have ever been stored at the graveyard is the 1936 Hungarian-made ER 716-66. Local museum experts noticed it and “rescued” it from the graveyard. Now it is exhibited at the Museum of Battle Glory of Ural.

©Pavel Raspopov

©Pavel Raspopov

Some trains are in relatively good condition, with lubricated moving parts which move easily and do not creak. Others have deteriorated greatly.

Gaping holes caused by rusting can be seen in the hull of those trains. In places birch trees grow on the decaying locomotive carcasses.

©Pavel Raspopov

©Pavel Raspopov

The steam train graveyard is a real open-air museum, a time capsule that takes you to Soviet years. In the front of nearly every train is a big red star.

The locomotives and wagons have suffered at the hands of marauders. Headlights are broken and many parts have been sawn off to be sold as scrap metal.

Even though the territory is guarded, you can still visit it with permission from the Sverdlovsk Railway. But be careful: in the summer months there are ticks and vipers in the area.

A big thank you to Pavel Raspopov from Uraloved for the amazing photographs and information! You can see more from Uraloved here: UraloVed

 

©Pavel Raspopov

©Pavel Raspopov

 

© Pavel Raspopov

© Pavel Raspopov

 

© Pavel Raspopov

© Pavel Raspopov

 

© Pavel Raspopov

© Pavel Raspopov

 

© Pavel Raspopov

© Pavel Raspopov