The Beginnings of a Sluice Dam, for the Russian Empire (By Lee Cole)

Image: Cementing the Foundation of a Sluice Dam

In 1896, the beginnings of a sluice dam were laid out for the construction of the massive dam.  This dam was designed the help with the navigation of Volga river, which in turn helped with the bolstering of trade and transportation.  Trade along this river helped the improvement of the Russian economy, and with the increased means of transportation the trade increased greatly.

A sluice gate is designed to redirect water towards a water mill for the use of creating hydroeletric power.  This picture shows how with the creation of this type of dam, the Russian began had begun to become more modernized, keeping up with the advances in modern technology.  This sluice dam was able to generate a vast amount of power, and also gave the workers a type of employment.  Along with the advances in technology, this picture captures a snap shot of the expanding Russian Empire.  The men working on the photographed dam helped with the creation of the large Russian Empire.

The picture depicts workers and foremen alike pausing to take a picture before laying the cement foundation of the dam.  The picture was taken while Emperor Nicholas the Second was visiting the area where he ordered the construction of the dam.  As mentioned earlier, after this picture was taken, the cement was poured for the foundation of the sluice dam on the Volga River.  This seemingly meaningless snap shot showed us a bit of the beginnings of the Russian Empire.


Library of Congress, “Emperor Nicholas II Dam and Sluice, Sheksna, Russian Empire,”

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4 Responses to The Beginnings of a Sluice Dam, for the Russian Empire (By Lee Cole)

  1. Thanks for this cogent explanation of what the sluice dam was for! I found the image really compelling. It’s so obviously posed. The timbers are just huge and the people seem quite small. And there are many more supervisors than workers, right? Thanks also for commenting on the other post on this topic!

    Nathaniel Harris says:

    I couldn’t see the picture here, but after looking it up, I can easily picture the importance of this location. Certainly the photographer saw this along with other technology at the time as being important, and that is why it was included in this collection.

    Phillip Pullen says:

    Lee, I really like your selection here. I think it is important to note how advanced the Russian Empire (or Soviet Union) really was. Often in the West, we view Russia as a stagnant and backwards empire whose ideology is deeply flawed and economy doomed to fail. However, this picture represents the advancements in technology that the Russians made throughout history and the contributions they made to the world as a whole.

    Courtney Howell says:

    Hey Lee! Your image is not showing up. If you could get that fixed, that would be great. Thanks.

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