THE HISTORY OF BAM
AFTER THE WAR, BUT BEFORE BAM
THE BIG CITY
THE ART AND SOCIAL LIFE
THE FIRST DECADE. 1975-1985.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS.
THE BREAKING POINT
WHAT'S LACKING IN THE CITY
WOULD YOU LIKE MORE DETAILS?
TOWNS AND VILLAGES OF THE AREA
Tynda (Biased Notes)
THE BIG CITY
Population was growing fast and by 1979 it was around 60 thousand.Tynda became an economic base from which it was possible to move North, West and East.I remember reading a phrase that I liked: "When God was flying over these places, his hands got cold, and he dropped the sack with the nature's riches on this land."I think this refers to our land.
Tynda was the "youngest" city in the region.The average citizen's age was around 25 years old.Tynda had a higher birth rate than any other city of the Soviet Union.1500 children were born in 1983.That's 24 newborns for every 1000 inhabitants.The most births occurred in 1987 -- 2200.On average, there were 500 weddings a year.
The food and products supply for Tynda was extraordinary.Even though the rest of the country was experiencing shortages of everything, Tynda stores carried it all.Those who do not remember the permanent shortages of light bulbs, soap, detergent, meat and other things will not understand the luxury of Tynda stores.Everyone was going to Tynda to buy condensed milk, canned meat and sausages.What about the famous BAM cowhide coats?All of the Soviet Union was after those coats.The only periodic deficit of those times was vodka.However cognac and 100% grain alcohol were almost always available.Have you ever tried drinking champaign in a 25 below zero cold?A terrific experience.If you spill some on the coat it turns into ice in about 10 minutes.Then you can brake it off piece by piece and suck on it.
What about weather!In winter we could not see the thermometer's mercury for months.It was there but it did not want to "show."During winter of '78-'79, the temperature dropped to 56 below zero. An automated weather monitoring service that we used to have informed me of that.You would dial the number and it would tell you: "The temperature at 6 o'clock in the morning is a negative 56 degrees."We didn’t' even have "special" days during that cold season.Everyone went to work and school as usual.What would be a better way to explain the cold?For example: a bottle of water left outside would freeze and crack in less than half an hour.My neighbor complained that he hid a bottle of vodka from his wife outside and the bottle burst.After his wife left, he was thawing the contents in a pan.
Birds froze in flight.A sparrow is flying by and then - boom! - falls down.Here is another one.Back than I used to live in a two-story wooden apartment house.The house was of good construction, warm with central heating but without the water supply.A tanker truck delivered water.On the first floor tenants had two hundred liter barrels and the same barrels in their apartments.So you would wait for the truck.When the truck came, you would run down to show which barrel to fill up.When the barrel was full, you would begin carrying the water in buckets to the second floor.During the 15-17 minutes of you running up and down with buckets, a palm-thick layer of ice would grow on the barrel's walls.Then you would take a wooden hammer and begin breaking the ice off the walls.You would have to do this very carefully, otherwise the metal would crack (with a nasty sound) and then good luck finding a clean barrel (so that no fuel or chemicals were previously stored in it).
Frankly, Tynda looked kind of strange at that time.Right below my balcony there were some private houses with smoking chimney stacks and their owners chopping the wood and working in the kitchen gardens.Having exited the apartment building, one would have to go between the garden fences to get to school.Roads and sidewalks paved with asphalt were a rarity.After a rain forest down pore, the roads turned into mud and one had to walk on the water pipe protection casing.Back than temporary water supply pipes were laid above ground and incased in a wooden box.The box served like an elevated sidewalk 1 to 1.2 meters above ground.I need to admit, it was convenient.
It was prestigious to work on BAM.And the pay was not that much different from the pay of the rest of the Amur Region at first.Later, special "northern add-ons" and car purchase vouchers were introduced.People used to fight over a ticket to BAM.Some were able to get through personal achievements and through active social work.Young boys used to run away to BAM like other generations used to run away to battlefronts and to warm countries.That's true!Transit cops periodically caught them and returned to their parents.
People who were new to the area were called BAMovets.Most of them came here to make some money and to get the car purchase voucher.After they were done, they left…only to come back and stay here "permanently."Some got used to big money, some wanted to get another car.But most were attracted by BAM in general -- "Enchantment of the North."People back west did not seem to be as hospitable as they were here.The nature was not as pretty.And leisure was more boring.So they came back with families and seemed like forever.Alas, a lot of them have left recently.But for now -- the city was rapidly being built and was growing.
The first standard school was built in 1977.That was the present school #1.It was designed for
1000 people, but in its first year it hosted 1730 children.In 1985 the city had 8700 students.In
1979 the first permanent kindergarten was opened.In 1985 there were 7778 seats in public and
vocational schools.6000 children attended pre-school establishments.
25 - 27 of July 1978.National congress of media workers takes place in Blagoveschensk and
Tynda.On agenda - curatorship of Baikal-Amur construction and other important construction projects of the 10th five-year plan by journalist organizations.
On May 8th 1979 a first heavy load train passed through the BAM - Tynda railroad stretch carrying 5170 tons of freight.The heroes of the day were the engine operator N.P Yarema and his assistant V.N. Popov.The train arrived to Tynda from Anosovskaya station right on schedule.On June 7 the first passenger train arrived from Moscow.Moscow - Tynda route was officially opened.Then Tynda - Chita route was introduced.The first train arrival-departure schedule was issued.On June 22nd Ministry of Roadways made a decision to form Tynda railroad management agency and subordinate it to BAM Construction Management Agency.The railroad management agency was assigned BAM -Tynda - Berkakit line controlling duties.On December 6th of the same year, passenger plane YaK-40 brought the first passengers to Tynda from Khabarovsk.Now air routes connected all the major points of the construction.
During the first 5 years, more than 120,000 of square meters of housing were made available.On December 30th 1980, Muscovite builders completed two more nine-story apartment buildings.The total count of this type of housing exceeded thirty.
Soon began construction of houses on concrete stilts.How is it not Venice?Except the idea behind it is different.Soil thawing and settling could cause building lean.Because of the uneven load, the walls could crack.That's why the stilts were driven into the ground until they reached permafrost or a solid rock.Only then, they built houses.By the way, all this makes buildings less prone to earthquakes.According to calculations, our houses could withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake.BAM zone is highly seismic.In 1962, Institute of Earth Upper Crust did a thorough research of seismic activity in the BAM zone.Here is what it found out: Severobaikal'sk earthquake had a magnitude of 9, Muyakansk and Ust'-Muisk -- 7-8, Kodarsk -- 8, Olekma and Nyukzha -- 9, Tas-Yurakh -- 9-10.On June 27 1957 in the area of Udokan mountain range foothills, Muisk earthquake measuring 10-11 occurred.It cracked surface for 300 km, adjusting riverbeds, creating new lakes and bringing down mountain slopes.This earthquake is the most significant on the USSR territory.It is documented in the world seismic events of present day catalog.
In February 1980, Tynda bakery began its operations
In January 1983, "Gilyui" Movie Theater was opened.It was the first capital Movie Theater with 600 seats
November 1983, a new three-story library with 220 thousand books was opened
December 1983 -- Railroad Workers Palace of Culture opens its doors.It has a 500 seat
Movie Theater, a full gym and an 80 thousand book library
December 1984, the state board signs into operation a milk and sausage making facility.June was the beginning of production.
In 1986 a 210-person bathhouse is opened.It is a very unique inside and outside building, a very good bathhouse.You can sit in a sauna or get a massage or ask for some vodka.They'd bring it to you.
6.5 million rubles were spent on making Tynda livable during 1980-85.In 1981 they began a widespread asphalt paving of roads, squares; also tree planting.
70 nine-story apartment building were built during 15 years.There are 4 sixteen-story buildings (by the way the tallest in the region).The total area is 301,000 square meters or 5,354 apartments.11 kindergartens, 6 schools, a trade center, a hospital complex and a water treatment plant were made operational.
Even though Tynda is far from the "centers of civilization," between China and Japan, one can't call it provincial."A province" is not a geographical notion, but a mental.Look at the pictures of Tynda.If you are not told, most likely you won't be able to determine where the pictures were made.Polar bears have not been roaming these streets for a while now.Muscovites built them.And the main street is tastefully called Krasnaya Presnya.There are a lot more other Moscow related names in the city: Sokol'niki, Moscow Builders Street, Moscow Boulevard, Arbat.However, unlike in Moscow they end in taiga.
The city was not the only one to grow.In five years (1974-79) the population had increased 4.7 times.Alas, in the last few years, the population grew 23 thousand short.One unique characteristic of the existing population is its demographics.This is the BAM construction legacy.No matter how banal it might sound, BAM was built by the whole country.Almost every village and town had their curators -- a republic or a region.Muscovites built Tynda, Leningraders - Severobaikal'sk, Sverdlovskavites - Kuvykta.Many villages, especially railroad station buildings (the face of the mainline!) have an oriental or southern touch in its architecture.During BAM construction, people of all nationalities were present.Today the majority is Russian -- 73%; 11% -- Ukrainians; 2.2% -- Byelorussians.Besides these, there are Bashkir, Azerbaijan, Mordva, Tatar, Chuvash, German and other nationalities.
The native population is Evenki (797).They have lived in the Amur Region for ages.Evenki are the antecedents of Tungusk tribes of the Far East.They were able to preserve their language, culture and traditions for thousands of years.Evenki predominantly live in settlements where they breed reindeer and other smaller animals (fur industry).The coming of the Western civilization greatly affects Evenki life: the younger generation is losing its ties with a genuine Evenki national trade.
THE RAILROAD STATION
The railroad station building is Tynda's landmark.Its design was very original and won a special prize in Sofia.The building is one of a kind in the former USSR and is not analogous to anything in the world.The railroad station building was supposed to be adjacent to the bus station.There were supposed to be lodges for 400 persons and a hotel.Alas, those features are not in place yet.In place of VIP lodging there are just waiting benches in the foie of the second floor.In the Soviet times, construction management did not count the money while building the station.The front of the building is very unusual - a gigantic glass cockpit high above the rails.The design is very unique.
Here, by the railroad station building (while it was still being built), took place a solemn meeting dedicated to the completion of the "road of the century" construction.Politburo candidate Vladimir Dolgih supervised the event.
Not to far from the station building there is a structure without any “extras” – a locomotive depot.Today it's twenty years old and looks like a large factory in some industrial zone.It performs a number of complex jobs that can be completed only by the well-equipped facilities.The wheel-aligning facility alone is something.Even in today's tough times, the depot takes great pride in its work.
In the shadow of the above mentioned structures hid an old, two-axle railroad passenger car from the pre-revolution times.According to the competent sources, the last ruler of Russia Nicholas the Second rode in this car.Later, the car served to the "granddaddy" -- the chief of "Glavbamstroi" Konstantin Mohortov.
Foreigners were also frequent guests in the car.German weekly "Wohenpost" even had an article once titled "Riding along BAM in a tsar car."Unfortunately, the former luxury of the car has vanished.The bronze doorknobs and other fixtures were taken off and disappeared.The luxury car itself was turned into an ordinary construction management office.But even in its present role, the car is alive and bears some historical importance.By the way, I am not sure if it's still there.