Zlatoust: Metallurgy Center

Located close to the Ural Mountains, the town of Zlatoust was one of the stops photographer, Prokudin-Gorskii, made during his trips around Russia in 1909. This picture depicts Zlatoust, a fairly small town that became an industrial center during the period of reforms that took place throughout Russia.

Characterized by an agricultural economy originally, the Great Reforms in Russia sought to put the country on a road to modernity and revolution. Zlatoust is an example of the industrial revolution that took place in Russia during the period of 1855-1890 (Freeze, 2009, p.199). Zlatoust become a town characterized by it’s production of finished metals and armaments. Zlatoust was, and is still known today for it’s production of edged weapons, including swords, daggers, and bayonets (Vershinin, 2015). Zlatoust dabbled in experimental metallurgy, and created new types of high-quality steel. A railroad was later built, connecting Zlatoust to the larger town of Samara, which led to a population increase. I believe Zlatoust is a perfect example of the effects that the Great Reforms had in Russia. Industrialization and modernization were embraced fully, and created a prosperous center of production.

What first caught my eye about the picture was the large Church of the Three Prelates standing in the background. The architecture mimics traditional Russian architecture that I am used to seeing. Observing the photograph, it is safe to say the town is modest and rather small. Compared to present-day Zlatoust, I think it is interesting to see how much the town as grown. At the beginning of Zlatoust’s transformation, 20,000 people inhabited the town. Now, modern-day Zlatoust has a population of roughly 170,000. I think this large population increase attests to the industrial center that the town became during the Great Reforms, and how modernization affects society.


Freeze, G. L. (2009). Russia: a history. New York: Oxford University Press.

Prokudin-Gorskii, S.M. (Photographer). (1909, September). Northwest part of the town zlatoust [photograph]. Zlatoust: World Digital Library.

Vershinin, A. (2015, July 6). Zlatoust: the cutting edge of russia’s steel arms production.

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