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The Amur River, The Sakhalin Islands

The Baikal Sea covers 31,500 square km. and is 636 km. long. At its widest point it is 79.4 km. Its water basin occupies about 557,000 square km. and contains about 23,000 cubic km. of water. This adds up to abut one-fifth of the world's reserves of fresh water and more than 80 percent of the fresh water reservoir in the former Soviet Union.

Scene on Lake Baikal


The Baikal Sea is the deepest lake in the world. The depth is estimated at 1,637 m., however, the depths hide underwater voids which are connected to channels that run deeply into the underworld.

November 30, 1890, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

The Deepest Lake.

By far the deepest lake known in the world is Lake Baikal, in Siberia, which is every way comparable the the great Canadian lakes as regards size; for, while its area is over 9,000 square miles, making it about equal to to Erie in superficial extent, its enormous depth of between 4,000 and 5,000 feet makes the volume of its waters almost equal to that of Lake Superior. Although its surface is 1,350 feet above the sea level, its bottom is nearly 3,000 feet below it. The Caspian Lake, or sea, as it is usually called, has a depth in its southern basin of over 3,000 feet. Lake Maggiora is 3,000 feet deep, Lake Como nearly 2,000 feet deep, and Lego-di-Garda, another Italian lake, has a depth in certain places of 1,000 feet. Lake Constance is over 1,000 feel deep, and Huron and Michigan reach depths of 900 and 1,000 feet.

In 1823 the engineer-mechanic Rozen put the idea about steamship building on Lake Baikal into mind. The Siberian sea poses an obstacle in Russian transport system. The Irkutsk Admiralty Board, which existed since 1764, was in charge of transportation through Lake Baikal. But the Departments of Navy and Budget didn t support this project. Nikita Fedorivich Myasnikov worked hard in organizing steamship building operations. Nikita Fedorivich Myasnikov was a merchant belonging to the top guild from Rostov, commercial counselor. He was the son of Siberian millionaire Fedor Borisovich Myasnokov and also the gold-miner, owner of distilleries and water mills.

November 6, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Russian Possessions on the Pacific

It is already known that Russian has lately peaceably acquired the mouth of the river Amur1 . Two hundred years ago the Russians had taken possession of that territory, but forty years afterwards, they abandoned it, and as as the Russian government did not then appreciate the importance of that possession the inhabitants of the country recognized the authority of the Chinese government Emperor Nicholas was the first to appreciate the importance of settlements on the northeastern coast of Asia. During his reign the population of Kamschatka rose to eighty thousand, and the capital of the province became a strong place of twelve thousand inhabitants. Ochotsk, the principal place of the territory of Irkntak, came next in importance. This city numbered one thousand inhabitants, and was 9,550 versts (about 6,370 miles from St. Petersburg). . .

A great number of pesants belonging to the Crown, and from those regions beyod the Baikal, were in fact sent on the Chinese frontier, as military colonists. Three years afterwards, 5,000 could be mustered to the astonishment of their Chinese neighbors.

Russia.Dispute with China.

When in 1854 all of the regular troops were withdrawn from Siberia, and the Buriates were sent to Irkustk to succeed the Cossacks of the line, a sufficient force was left at the capital of Kamschatka and on the Amur. The fortifications were strengthened, the settlements were increased, and the Russian government took advantage of the embarrassment of the Emperor of China to obtain three hundred square miles of land by a treaty of rectification of the frontiers. A well fortified Russian city is now in course of construction at the mouth of the Amur (Amur). When it will be strong enough to resist the attacks of the Western power it will become the nucleur of relations which will probably take a large extension.

May 23, 1857, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.


We find the following interesting information in relation to this Russian settlement on the Amur river in the Washington Union. It is extracted from a letter from Russia. We have a peculiar interest in this settlement, for, when it grows in population, ita supplies will have to be drawn from California. We believe that some propositions in relation to this matter has already been made to our government by Russia.

"Nevschink is now the head of navigation on the Amur river, and a government steamer plies between this point and the mouth of the Amur. Nicolief is a fortified town of some two thousand inhabitants, at or near the mouth of the Amur. Nicolief, as I understand, is the place to which the Russian Pacific fleet retired during the recent allied war. This port lies without the mouth of the Amur river, in a favorable and sheltered position, and capable of making a stout resistance. Northward of the Ochotsk sea there is no navigable water; but southward, at the bay of Castries, there is plenty of water for any vessel. There is a small settlement of some three hundred persons near this point, whence to the Amur there is a line of military posts. This information is not precise, or given with implicit confidence, but it is such as I gather.

"Mantchooria (Manchuria) is interesting, if not now important, as the ancient seat of Tartar prowess under Genghis Khan, and the country whence issued the conquerors of China. Nature has done much for the country, but it wants development. During the last year, and the one previous, gold fields were discovered in the country east of Lake Baikal, which is to the south and east of Iskoutshe. As many as five to ten thousand men have been working in these fields during the last summer.

"The government of Russia is not yet prepared, as I learn, to open the Amur to indiscriminate commerce, or to European exploration. Take the immense extent of territory now under the dominion of Russia, (to which there is no parallel in the history of the world,) and it presents a field in which the grandest ideas may be put practically into execution, the sovereign power being in the hands of one man, having the head to conceive vast designs, and the will to put them into practical operation.

Russia, Nomads

"That the waters of Lake Baikal can be connected with the Amur, I think there is no doubt, and thus open the very heart of Siberia to our Pacific commerce. My idea is, that a railroad of a few hundred miles will connect the two systems of waters, and give a continuous line of communication between the waters of the the Pacific and the icy ocean; this, with a few steamers on Lake Baikal, the Yenisei, theSena, the Obe, the Amur and their tributaries, would advance the trade and commerce of those countries a thousand-fold in ten years, and realize more to commerce and civilization than the discover of the I North-west Passage to India."

"This route, if opened with steam upon those Siberian rivers, would realize, in fact, a north eastern passage to India, through which an immense trade might eventually flow, for with steam the summer waters of the icy ocean would be available for some months each year. Now the commerce which flows to Archangel must weather the north cape in about 71 degree north latitude, while the headlands of the Obe are only about 72 degrees, and those of the Yenisei would be within 78 degrees north latitud ; then, while Archangel is about 04 degrees, Obdorsk, the mouth of the Obe, is 56 degrees, that of the Yenisei is little above 72 degrees. Thus it will be perceived that the difference is not very great, and with steam the passage to the Obe would be much more readily accomplished than by sail now to Archangel. Thus, with the passage opened from the north of the Amur, an inland route could be obtained by steam the whole distance from ocean to ocean, some four thousand miles direct, and the different lines of navigation made available by this common artery would bo swelled to three or four times that sum, for the rivers of Siberia form a kind of net-work over the face of the country, and are easily made available by short cuts from one to the other, giving a very beautiful system of inland navigation.

Shipping on Siberian Rivers

View across the Angara River

N. F. Myasnikov petitioned the Ministry of Finance for the accordance of a privilege to him for shipping organization on the Siberian rivers. On December 8, 1839 such privilege was given to him. It admitted the exclusive right to found and to support the shipping company on Lake Baikal and tributary rivers. But a reservation indicated that steamships must be built.

The place for steamships building was chosen in 18 verst (63 000 ft) above Irkutsk on the left bank of the Angara River by village Grudinino. On March 29, 1843 the foundation of the first steamship's wooden hull was laidl. It was operated intensively, the steamship was launched on 15 September. This ship, named Emperor Nicholas I (after Nicholas I of Russia) was 35 m long, 4 m wide and 8 m with paddle guards. The barge for haulage was built together with a steamship.

The second ship Successor Cesarevitch (Crown Prince) and the second barge were laid after the first ship's launching. The steamships cruised on Lake Baikal from Listvenichnaya quay at the head of Angara to Posolsk on the eastern shore to the estuary of the Selenga River.

Weather permitting, the trip was made in 6 hours at a speed of 15 km/h. There were three classes for passengers, but cabins - only for first and second class passengers, the steerage was on the deck among carriages and packages. The Myasnikov's heirs owned the shipping company after his death in 1847. Emperor Nicholas I was damaged during the storm but repaired in 1854, and then it got burnt and striped down in 1856. Crown Prince maintained a regular service on Lake Baikal, but it went down in 1860.

The Angara Embankment in Irkutsk, 1886
Nikolai Florianovich Dobrovolsky

Myasnokovs didn't have any ships more, but the shipping company's activity continued on Lake Baikal, the Rivers Angara and Selenga. D.?. Benardaki, a retired lieutenant, participant of Amur campaign, built two ships in Listvyanichnoe in 1858: the first was named for the sake of governor-general - Muravjev-Amurskij, and he gave his own name to the second ship without false modesty - Benardaki. The foundation of shipping company on Lake Baikal was the most important contribution to economic developing of Siberia.

October 23, 1873, California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences

Marine Animals in Fresh Water.

At the present day, animals commonly supposed to be essentially marine are occaaionly found inhabiting fresh water. In the inland fresh lakes of Newfoundland, seals, which never visit the sea, are common and breed freely.

The same is the case in Lake Baikal, 1,280 feet above tbe sea level, in Central Asia; though these facts bear but slightly on my present subject, seals being air-breathing Mammalia, yet in the broad mouth of the Amazon, far above the tidal influx of sea water, marine molusca and other kinds of life are found, and in some of the lakes in Sweden there are marine Crustacea.

Prof. Ramsay, in Popular Science Monthly for September.

December 17, 1899, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Triumph of Engineering

Russia.Trans-Siberian Railroad. Christian Wolmar.

One of the latest triumphs in the engineering world consists in the construction, shipment by steamer and subsequent transfer to railway transportation of a steamer of 4,200 tons displacement, which was finally put afloat in Lake Baikal, Siberia, not less than 5,000 miles from St.

March 2, 1904, San Francisco Call , San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

IRKUTSK, Siberia, March 1: The first complete train traversed Lake Baikal on the ice railroad at 11 o'clock this morning.

It consisted of twenty-five cars. Prince Khilkoff, Minister of Public Works and Railroads, was present when the start was made.

Newspapers during the 1800s spelled this as "Amoor." It is Amur.

Triangle of Three Emperors. Myslowice.


After the foundation of the German Empire in 1871, Myslowice became known as Dreikaisereck (triangle of three emperors) as it was situated at the point where the Austrian, German and Russian Empires adjoined. After World War I (and a plebiscite in 1922), Myslowice and a part of Upper Silesia became part of the newly restored Poland. This card from circa 1910, features a depiction.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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