Sluice and Regulator at the First Verst on Emperor Nicholas I Canal with a Temporary Bridge. Begavat. Golodnaia Steppe
Among the primary initiators of Russian development projects in Turkestan was Grand Duke Nicholas Konstantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, who in 1881 moved to Tashkent. There he sponsored a number of ventures, including a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe,” present-day Uzbekistan) a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. A related goal was to provide arable land to attract Russian settlers. This photograph, taken near Begavat village, shows the sluice and water regulator at the first verst of the main canal, which the grand duke named in honor of his ancestor, Emperor Nicholas I. A temporary wooden bridge is visible over the regulator. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire. In 1911 he made two trips to an area of Central Asia then known as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), where he photographed Russian development of the area.
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