Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Sepia Saturday 167: In Search of Mammoths - Journey to the Coldest Place on Earth

Sepia Saturday by Alan Burnett & Kat Mortensen

A few months ago Diana Burns sent me some scans of photographs in an album that she had just purchased. Taken during the northern hemisphere summer of 1914, the 22 snapshots appear to depict a trip down the River Lena in a remote part of Siberia. Although I did some research at the time Diana sent me the images, my work at the time precluded anything more than a cursory hunt on the net. This week's Sepia Saturday photo prompt includes a steam-powered river boat, which stimulated me into some further exploration, resulting in a breakthrough which I'd like to share with readers.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns

The twenty two photographic prints are housed in a red bound album with a gilt art nouveau title and black pages, a style that became very popular in the first couple of decades of the 20th century, as amateur photography took off with great gusto. The prints measure roughly 3½" x 5", which probably equates to the 122 film used by a No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak camera.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns
Taken on the Buriatric Steppe, on the road from Yakutsk to Irkutsk (#2)
Paper print (roughly 95 x 126mm/3½" x 5") by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns (Yakutsk Album)

Right from the start it is made clear by the compiler of the album that the journey documented in these pages is no ordinary one. The first image is at the very least bizarre, showing four dead sheep or goats mounted on the tops of some spindly trees, perhaps poplars or a similar species [silver birch family, thank you Mike].

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns

A caption handwritten in pencil on the back of the print specifies the location - "on the Buriatric Steppe, on the road from Yakutsk to Irkutsk" - but leaves the interpetation of the subject matter completely up to the viewer. Although the term "Buriatric" does not seem to have entered common usage, the Buryats are the largest indigenous ethnic group in Siberia, living in the region surrounding Lake Baikal.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns
11 am 24 June Oost Eelgeenskaya, View of posting boats, River Lena (#3)
Paper print (roughly 95 x 126mm/3½" x 5") by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns (Yakutsk Album)

The next two photos in the album quickly move on to the means by which this remote and inhospitable region was accessed, the Lena River. This view of "posting boats" is followed by a blurry shot in which a man standing on top of a boat is identified as "Digby," with the added information that it was taken at 3.15pm on 24 June 1914.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns
View of Paddle S/S "Yakut" off Oostkootsk. 30th June (#8)
Paper print (roughly 95 x 126mm/3½" x 5") by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns (Yakutsk Album)

By 30th June, they had transferred to a paddle steamboat the Yakutsk, which took them all the way downstream to the town of Yakutsk, in a region often described as the coldest place on earth. For a westerner to make a journey into the Siberian heartland in 1914 seemed to me rather unusual. Large deposits of gold and other minerals were discovered in Siberia in the 1880s and 1890s, resulting in the development of Yakutsk as a significant centre, but westerners were still the exception, even by 1914.,117.37793&spn=18.527368,33.793945
Image © Brett Payne & Google Maps

The diary transcript of an expedition by intrepid Australian ornithologists Robert Hall and Ernie Trebilcock down the River Lena a decade earlier (Robin & Sirina, nd) shows that they must have taken the same route, probably because it was the easiest way to get into Siberia at the time. Given the fragmentary record of Diana's Yakutsk album, I've taken the liberty of including extracts from the diary and some additional photographs taken by them. Transport technology is unlikely to have changed much in the intervening years, so the length of the journey (14 days) was probably similar, and the added detail will help to illustrate the 1914 journey. The full transcript of Trebilcock's diary, for those who are interested, may be found here.

I've also read Sokolnikov's account of a journey to Siberia in 1899 for further background material. My task was was complicated by the multitude of spellings of place names:
  • Vercholensk = Verkholensk
  • Gigalowa = Zhigalov = Zhigalovo
  • Oostkootsk = Oustkoutsk = Ust-Kut
  • Olekminsk = Olyokminsk
  • Jarkutsk = Yakutsk
Horse and wagon transport Siberia, 1903
Glass plate negative by Hall & Trebilcock
Image © State Library of Victoria and courtesy of Robin & Sirina

The travellers would have started their journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which reached Irkutsk in 1898. The first stage of the journey from Irkutsk by post horses, shown in the image above, took about three days:
Left Irkutsk early in morning by post horses – two conveyances ea having three horses. Bells – two small bells suspended from the top of the arch over the middle horse. Carriage slung on poles, no springs! Each stage is about 20 to 35 versts long. At the end of each there is a real house where a supply of fresh horses is always ready, & where the traveller can get a samovar, or if necessary free shelter for 24 hours. The horses travel very quickly, their drivers often urging them into a gallop, much to the discomfort of the traveller if he is not well provided with pillows & cushions ... Bells on arch above horse have to be tied up while in towns to prevent their ringing.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns
3.15pm 24 June 1914, View of Boat, Digby standing on top of boat (#4)
Paper print (roughly 95 x 126mm/3½" x 5") by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns (Yakutsk Album)

From somewhere in the vicinity of Zhigalovo - I wasn't able to find the place referred to as "Eelgeenskaya" - they would have transferred to a long, thin, shallow bottomed boat (Sokolnikov refers to them as pauzki):
This distance (335 versts) we did in a boat, mainly by drifting with the current, in four days & three nights. Our boat, which was one of the usual kind used on the Lena for such purposes was about 40 ft. long, & had a deck house wh. though not high was large enough to shelter us & our luggage at night.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns
11.30am 25 June. P S/S Alexandra & barge in tow, River Lena (#7)
Paper print (roughly 95 x 126mm/3½" x 5") by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns (Yakutsk Album)

Our intrepid explorers passed the paddle steamer Alexandra towing a barge upstream, similar to those described by Trebilcock:
Passed a number of merchants barges drifting down stream. These are veritable floating warehouses, doing both a wholesale & a retail biz at an enormous profit, giving credit & charging for it.
Image © and courtesy of the State Library of Victoria
Music aboard the Lena River barge 1903
Glass plate negative by Hall & Trebilcock
Image © State Library of Victoria and courtesy of Robin & Sirina

When they reached Oost Kootsk (Ust-Kut) the Lena became considerably wider and they were able to board the more spacious and comfortable paddle steamer Yakut for the remainder of the journey downstream. In 1903 the company included a couple of women, a samovar was on the boil, and even musical entertainment was provided.
Very comfortable considering locality – very little diffce betn 1st & 2nd class except in price. But third class! Meals not supplied for the fare – meal tariff very high. Boat travels very fast. Russians cross themselves on starting their journey ... Had a very pleasant evening of a social nature. French was the language. Got on very well with two young Russian ladies.
One hopes the later travellers enjoyed similarly salubrious company.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns
12.00pm 5th July. Olekminsk. View of the church (#13)
Paper print (roughly 126 x 95mm/5" x 3½") by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns (Yakutsk Album)

Спасский собор, Olyokminsk
Image © 2008 voluntas_tua and courtesy of Panoramio

During the 1914 journey a brief stop was made on Sunday 5th July at the riverside settlement of Olekminsk (Olyokminsk), perhaps to attend a church service. This snapshot produced in 1914 shows a church that has changed remarkably little in the century since.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns
Wooden building, gateway and courtyard in unidentified location (#15)
Paper print (roughly 126 x 95mm/5" x 3½") by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns (Yakutsk Album)

A few days later, they reached the town of Yakutsk. There are no photographs in the album that are captioned with the town's name, although there is a view (shown above) which includes a substantial wooden building with very ornate window frames, a courtyard with what might be stacks of firewood, just visible through a large signposted gateway, flanked by street lamps, and adjacent to an unpaved road. It is almost certainly the premises where the next four images were taken.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns
Displaying a collection of fossil bones (#18-21)
Paper prints (roughly 4" x 5") by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns (Yakutsk Album)

Among the last few photographs in the album are four slightly larger images (roughly 4" x 5", used by a variety of roll film formats) which have less of a sepia tint. In fact, their quality is so much better than the others, in terms of focus, composition, exposure, even processing, that I find it difficult to believe they were taken with the same camera, even by the same photographer. They depict a man (in one photo he is accompanied by three others) with a trilby hat and pipe displaying a number of fossil bones; using my rudimentary knowledge of palaeontology I have been able to identify tusks and jaw bone of the woolly mammoth, as well as a woolly rhinoceros skull and horn.

Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns
Russian newspapers or broadsheets (#22)
Paper print (roughly 126 x 95mm/5" x 3½") by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Diana Burns (Yakutsk Album)

The final image in the album is perhaps merely a curiosity. It depicts a couple of pages from a Russian newspaper or broadsheet pinned up on boards, leaning against the wooden boards of a wall. It is not well focussed and my understanding of Russian is slim to non-existent, but I think I can make out the following (what it really means, I haven't a clue):


Apart from the mention of "Digby" and "D." in the captions to three of the photographs, there are no clues as to the identity of the subjects, or to the owner of the album. Nor is there any real indication as to the purpose of the trip. Given that Europe was on the cusp of war, it would have been a tricky time to be travelling abroad. Prior to doing further research my own impression was that the tusk/horn/fossil photos, despite being at the end of the album, actually provided a focus point and could have formed the primary reason for the expedition.

Image © Chicago History Museum and courtesy of American Memory from the Library of Congress
Bassett Digby, correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, 1918
Glass plate negative (4" x 5") of paper print tacked on board
Chicago Daily News neg. coll., DN-0003451, courtesy of Chicago History Museum & American Memory from the Library of Congress

I won't relate the full story here, but using the words Digby, mammoth and Yakutsk in a Google search yielded the first clues: a book written in 1913 recounting a trip through Siberia by R.L. Wright and Bassett Digby, a paper on "the provenance of Bassett Digby's contributions to the Natural History Museum, London, and the British Museum" written by his grand-daughter, and a book written in 1926 by Bassett Digby himself, "The Mammoth and Mammoth-Hunting in North-East Siberia."

Woolly mammoth model at the Royal British Columbia Museum
Image © 2011 Flying Puffin & courtesy of Flickr

Bassett Digby was a journalist who followed in the footsteps of Mark Twain and others by funding his adventures with travel writing. After the publication of Through Siberia: an Empire in the Making in 1913, Digby returned to Siberia the following year. It is not clear what the primary purpose of the trip was but, as is clear from his book and research carried out recently by Susan Digby (2004 & 2008), mammoths featured prominently. Apart from the scientific interest, there was also a significant commercial trade:
In the early twentieth century there was an active market for mammoth ivory, and Yakutsk was the location of tusk yards maintained by middlemen who bought ivory and other fossil finds from native peoples for sale to southern traders. Good quality mammoth ivory was used as an alternative to elephant tusks for such things as piano keys, combs, jewellery, chess sets and billiard balls.
Although Digby provided the "first written comprehensive English-language information on [the mammoth]," Susan notes:
Digby’s involvement in this financial side of mammoth ivory collection is unknown ... [his] journey to Yakutsk was definitely enmeshed with the story of trade and potential riches. His acknowledgement read: "I wish to make my acknowledgements to a certain genial and enterprising gentleman who took a sporting chance on my being able to find a big hoard of mammoth-ivory for him." This acknowledgement, together with a collection of photographs in an album, suggests that he funded his travel and collecting interests by locating ivory for an ivory trader.
Image © and courtesy of Susan Ann Digby
Valuation of mammoth jaws and tusks, Ivory trade in Yakutsk, July 1914
Series of paper prints (3" x 2") mounted on black card album page
Image courtesy of Susan Ann Digby, Adsbol family album

The following extract from Digby's 1926 book describes his discovery of a hoard of mammoth ivory in the trader's store room, later arrayed, photographed and valued in the yard outide, as depicted in images #15, #18-#21 from Diana's Yakutsk album. A further series of photographs of the hoard was discovered by Susan and her brother, in an album originally owned by Martinus Adsbol, who had accompanied Digby on the journey to Yakutsk.
Our luck was in. One morning we located a really big hoard. A key was turned in a massive padlock. With a muffled clang the sheet-iron door was flung open. We stepped out of the blinding July sunshine into pitchdarkness ... and, dimly at first, then more and more clearly, this great heap of Arctic loot appeared, like the slow developing of a photographic plate. Huge horns that curled this way and that ... No, not horns; but tusks, mammoth tusks by the dozen, by the score – hundreds and hundreds of them, cairn upon cairn, stack upon stack. Tons and tons of prehistoric ivory.
The snapshots in the Adsbol album are smaller, measuring approx. 3" x 2" although they are roughly trimmed. This may correspond to the 129 film format developed by Kodak for the Houghton Ensignette No 2 and Deluxe cameras first produced in 1912-1913.

Image © 2006 Inocybe and courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Woolly rhinoceros depicted in rock art at Chauvet Cave, southern France
Image © 2006 Inocybe and courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Susan has worked with Natural History Museum staff in London to successfully identify several specimens and artefacts in the museum's collection as being those which her grandfather provided upon his return from his second Siberian trip. The woolly rhinoceros horn in particular was an especially rare find.

Mammoth-hunting in Siberia, by Bassett Digby
Published in The Graphic, 6 March 1915

Whilst the identity of the photographer of the majority of the photographs in the Yakutsk album remains unknown, if there is any doubt whatsoever that they were taken on the same trip, this is dispelled by another find on the net. An article written by Bassett Digby and published by The Graphic in 1915 includes two of the photographs which appear in Diana's album.

Like the Adsbol family photos discovered by Susan Digby, Diana Burns' Yakutsk album plays an important role in piecing together the history of the early 20th Century exploration of Siberia. We can be fairly sure that there were three separate cameras recording the trip, and probably three men participating in the expedition - the search to identify the "third man" continues.

If you've survived this far, then have a quick look at the remaining photos in Diana's Yakutsk Album before adventuring further afield in search of more Sepian discoveries.

Yakutsk Album


Diana Burns has very kindly shared many of her "photofinds" with me, and I'm grateful for permission to use scans of the photographs in her private collection here on Photo-Sleuth. It's not very different from the crowdsourcing collaboration between various archival institutions and members of the public through Flickr's "The Commons" project.

Staff of the State Library of Victoria responded most promptly to my request for further information regarding Hall & Trebilcock's glass plate negatives.

I am also indebted to Susan Digby for giving me access to her engaging Ph.D. dissertation about her "ordinary" grandfather's extraordinary life and travels, as well as excerpts from articles that he wrote about the trip to Siberia, and for pointing me to other resources relating to Bassett Digby.


Buryats, River Lena, Trans-Siberian Railway, Yakutsk, Woolly mammoth and Woolly rhinoceros, from Wikipedia.

No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak, from Historic Camera

The Ensignette Camera, from Early Photography

Roll film, from Camerapedia

Photograph of Chicago Daily News correspondent Bassett Digby, DN-0069953, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum, from American Memory (The Library of Congress Archive)

Letter to the Times - #2, from Gimcrack Hospital

The Ninety-Foot Plum Tree, Filling Some Gaps, by Mammoth Tales

Digby, Bassett (1915) Mammoth Hunting in Siberia, The Graphic, 6 March 1915, p.312.

Digby, Bassett (1916a) Along a great Siberian river, Travel 25 (June): 18–21, 46, 47.

Digby, Bassett (1916b) Yakutsk – A Siberian outpost, Travel 25 (July): 18–21, 45–48.

Digby, Susan A. (2004) Mammoths and wars, travel and home: The geographical life of journalist and natural historian Bassett Digby (1888-1962), unpubl. Ph.D. Dissertation (Geography), University of California, Los Angeles.

Digby, Susan A. (2008) Early twentieth-century collection of extinct mammals from northern Siberia: the provenance of Bassett Digby’s contributions to the Natural History Museum, London, and the British Museum, Archives of Natural History 35 (1): 105–117.

Gustavson, Todd (2009) Camera, A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital, New York: Sterling, 360 pp.

Robin, L. & Sirina, A. (nd) Siberian ornithology - Australian style, 1903, Fenner School of Environment & Society, Australian National University.

Sokolnikov, Prokopy N. (1899) Wives and Children of the Doukhobors (translation), from the Doukhboro Genealogy Website.

Tolmachoff, I.P. (1935) The carcasses of the mammoth and rhinoceros found in the frozen ground of Siberia, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 24 (Part 2, June 1935), 11-74.

Trebilcock, R.E. (1903) Diary of Expedition to Siberia (transcript), from the State Library of Victoria (MS 9247).

Wright, R. L. and Digby, B. (1913) Through Siberia: an Empire in the Making, New York & London: McBride, Nast & Company, Hurst & Blackett.


  1. Once again a great piece of research.

    The trees with the sheep, are of the silver birch family, and the beasts are up their to keep them out of the reach of predators.

  2. It's very interesting to read about this part of the world I know so little about, even if the information is nearly a hundred years old. I didn't know the mammoth tusk industry was so large. I wonder if the mention in the newspaper article of mammoths being extinct for some 80.000 years was a typo (the correct number is 4.500 years).

  3. A fascinating journey - great research.

  4. Mike - Thanks for the tip about the trees, which I've added in. Regarding the offerings of rams spittted on birch trees, they were intended to propitiate the evil spirits, according to an article The mysterious witch doctors of Siberia by Digby which appeared in The Wide World Magazine in 1916 or 1917.

    Rob - Yes, I think knowledge of extinction times wasn't nearly as good then as it is now.

    Wibbo - Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

  5. this was a mammoth read too! It must have taken you days to prepare this post Brett. Lucky you to have the paddle steamer pictures ; I've scoured my albums in vain.

  6. Thanks for persevering, Marilyn. It takes me days to prepare every post, so it's lucky that I have a few (actually more than a few) subjects up my sleeve that I've been researching for some time. Actually I have another paddle steamer picture of my own to share, but that can wait for another time, and another prompt.

  7. Wow - I'm in awe. And I love the spitted sheep shot, holy crow.

  8. What a great idea to have featured the whole album of adventure. How did they get those goats up there? They look rather fresh and would have been so heavy, and those trees are so skinny. I wonder what the meaning was ... a warning? Oh, I just read Mike's explanation.

    Can you imagine spending 4 days on that tiny boat with so many people and sleeping there? Not me!

    And then, the story goes on to hunting Mammoths. Thanks for working so hard on this fantastic post, Brett.

    Kathy M.

  9. A fabulous post which I need to come back to several times. Just how long did it take to put together?

  10. I thought it was pretty amazing that they had music on that boat but as I read on, I just became more and more amazed! I had no idea there was a market in mammoth tusks.

  11. Nobody ever believes me when I tell them I saw Moroccan goats:

  12. What an interesting and informative post! I wasn't aware of the mammoth tusk trade either.

  13. What an incredible journey and magnificent research effort. I'll have to come back to this one when I have a couple of hours to spend.

  14. Those poplars with the animals hanging look quite tall. A bit scary and mysterious. Siberia sounds synonymous with cold. I'll be very fascinated and excited if I get to buy an entire old photo album like Diana did. I enjoyed your research, thanks.

  15. It was fascinating to read and see where the Yakutsk led you. I learned a lot from the Mammoth Hunting article.

  16. One of your best posts, Brett. A great combination of history detective, travelogue, and adventure stories, all in one. The details on the trade in mammoth ivory is still an important issue today, as global warming will reveal more fossils in the tundra.

    I have always had a fascination with Siberia and have read several travel books and histories on the area, including some that follow the Lena River. The summer was the best time for travel but not entirely comfortable, as I noticed one man on the ship was wearing a mosquito net helmet.

  17. That is quite an adventure in both actuality and research, what a lot you have discovered. I'm intrigued by the man at the back of the musical river boat photo who looks to be wearing a bee keeping hat, or maybe it just an elaborate mosquito protector:-)

  18. Thorough research was not expected here...but is gratefully appreciated, by me! A very educational and enjoyable post. Thanks!

  19. Siberia must have felt like The Moon in those day (probably still does!)Such A Wild remote & dangerous place (ask the sheep)........ Fascinating,Rare And Strangely Beautiful.

  20. Oh my goodness this is a history lesson in wonder all by itself! What a treat- so much absorbed I don't know what to comment first on- so two points very strong in my thoughts- what ever was that wooden building I really am curious about it- very cool and the person looks so small- and the barge- my Lena and most okay but a couple of the bearded gents- not so sure I'd hop on it! You really did a great amount of study and work on this!

  21. This is all incredibly fascinating. The old images of a society long gone are priceless. And the mammoth is wonderful. I know that in a nearby private park the remains of a wooly mammoth were found over 100 years ago. Scientists from University of California Berkeley were called but they did not arrive in a timely enough manner so the woman who owned the land simply covered up the remains and never told them where they were. A friend who was related to the woman had a piece of the spinal column that was petrified. It sat at her front door. I always looked at it and tried to wrap my head around the fact that at one point that bone had belonged to an animal that, like me, had lived in this area. I like to envision looking out my window these days and seeing the ghosts of the mammoths walking by.

  22. Sean - Well if it were crows up there, that wouldn't be half as interesting.

    Kathy M. - The enormity of that rather perplexed me too, but let's hope the Herculean effort impressed the Gods. I think I might have chosen to sleep out on the open deck, if it weren't for the mosquitoes.

    Bob - The idea has been gestating for a few months, during which time I've been gathering together my thoughts mainly, but the writing took many hours, through the entire course of the week. Sorry to give you such an mammoth task this week.

    Kristin - The early 20th Century equivalenbt of the iPod, I guess. Apparently the trade in mammoth ivory has been going on for some centuries, and is still prevalent today.

    Nigel - Haha, yes I've seen goats in trees on the island of Ithaka.

    Kathy Morales & Liz Needle - Thank you for persevering.

    Hazel - Unfortunately, living so far as I am from the main markets, the postage on such albums usually puts them out of my reach, but I find them just as fascinating.

    Postcardy - I did too, as you have seen :-)

    Mike Brubaker - Thanks for the kind comments (it's certainly mone of the longest). I didn't notice the mosquito net helmet, but there was a comment in the Trebilcock diary about mosquitos so thickly swarmed on the barrel of his gun that he couldn't see the sight at the end. I guess I have a similar fascination for all things Klondyke.

    Joy - Yes, it's a mosquito protector. The mosquitos here were legendary (see previous comment to Mike).

    B Rogers - Thank you.

    Tony - Yes, from what I can tell of recent photos, it's still very wild, but perhaps not quite as dangerous.

    Karen S. - I believe the wooden building was the mammoth tusk trader's house/store in Yakutsk, althugh that photo does not appear to have a caption.

    T+L - What a shame about the woolly mammoth remains in your nearby park being gone for good. Amazing to think that they were around at the same time as our early ancestors. There's a debate going on currently about whether or not to try and recreate mammoths from DNA - Google will find it somewhere on the net.

  23. Wow, what a great posting. I really think the 1914 photos were quite a find. My dad was born in 1918 so seeing the oldies are great.

  24. Truly amazing story and research Brett! If prizes were handed out each week for Sepia Saturday you would surely win first this week!

    I was especially struck by the women travelers and how adventuresome they must have been for the times. They were truly going into the unknown without any luxuries. Don't think I could have done that!

  25. Yet again I find myself copying your post into my Evernote collection so I can read it again at leisure. An excellent piece of work.

  26. I prefer imagining these goats grazing at the few shoots remaining at the top of those trees since everything else is gone.

    "Music aboard the Lena River barge 1903" drew Mike Brubaker's attention, but not for the instruments, strangely...
    The man with the net looks like he's about to open a beehive rather than sailing over the river.
    Odd outfit!!

    Love the Olekminsk Church picture!!

    And that datcha, wooden building, reminds me of a Russian movie I saw in the late '70s, early 80s, about Peter the Great, a great production but with none of this American fluff you usually see. It was full of more authentic details. And that house reminds me of that.

    Great journey!!

  27. Teresa - Thank you for your compliments. I suspect the women were the wives of Russian traders living in Yakutsk - I can't believe there would be much else to draw them that far into the wilderness.

    Alan - Sorry to fill your notebook to overflowing with these very long posts of mine, but there are some subjects that just can't be covered simply. Besides which, you know I don't do short very well.

    Hugo - There are so many objects of fascination in this album, not the least of which is imagining doing it oneself, which is not that difficult to achieve with the Google Earth and a multitude of other sites on the net. I'll tell you what a night in that log dacha was like!


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