A Sign of Rapid Change
This picture is particularly compelling as it poignantly shows Russia’s transition from its feudal and rural past and its road to industrialization. In the frame we can clearly see Cossacks. The Cossacks were a vital part of Russia’s history as they often led the expeditions of conquest eastward against steppe tribes and Mongolian successor states. these men are the perfect representation of old Russia, hard and traditional. the great irony of course is that what they are guarding is a very symbol of what will eventually wipe them out. The railroad that the Cossacks are protecting is a clear sign of the rapid economic, political, and social reforms that swept through Russia in the latter part of the 19th century. These reforms, and their inadequate implementation directly led to the conditions that would foment the growth of the 1905 Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution. With the birth of the Soviet Union also came the death of the Ancient culture and privilege of the Cossacks.
Russia A History; Gregory L. Freeze, page 216