Siberia 1847-1891

Siberia 1891-1917

Construction of the Transiberian Railroad began in 1891. It was to traverse western Siberia and reach Irkutsk; waggons then were to be transported by ferry across Lake Baikal; from its eastern shore they were to be reassembled into a train and driven to the eastern terminal. Russia in the 1890es threatened to penetrate Manchuria, and the move of the East Asian Triple Alliance in 1895-1898 secured Russian domination of this region, as well as a 99 year lease of what was to be known as Port Arthur. The eastern route of the Transiberian Railroad, still in the stage of planning, was rerouted through Manchuria toward the prospected port of Port Arthur. Russia's main port on the Pacific, Vladivostok, hampered by the fact that it is frozen over for part of the year, temporarily lost in significance.
Britain was concerned about the prospect of a Russian-controlled, year-long ice free port on the Pacific, a fact British policy had attempted to avoid for decades. Since 1860, Britain had supported political reform in the Chinese Empire in order to place the latter in a state to defend itself against Russian aggression. The events of 1898 and the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 showed that this policy had failed miserably, and in 1902 Britain concluded the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, now supporting reform and modernization of Japan. In 1904, with the Transiberian Railroad not yet being completed, without a previous declaration of war and with tacit support of "neutral" Britain, Japan attacked the Russian Empire; in conswequence of the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Empire had to transfer the lease of Port Arthur and control of the southern half of Manchuria, as well as to cede the southern half of Sakhalin, to Japan.
Thus older plans for the route of the Transiberian Railroad, with Vladivostok and Nachodka as terminals, were revived.

Prior to the construction of the Transiberian Railroad, the country was thinly populated. The native peoples had suffered from Russian rule, as they had been forced to kill excessive numbers of fur-bearing animals, bringing these close to extinction and thus bereaving them of the most lucrative source of income.
The Russian administration depended heavily on Siberia's transportation - navigable stretches of rivers, navigable only after the ice had melted, and on transport by horses, which during the short summer were pestered by myriads of mosquitoes. Along the transportation route were cities, often with a citadel; the Rusian population consisted of civil administrators, military personnel, of internal exiles (deported criminals and political prisoners), of the descendants of religious refugees / exiles (Old Believers), in western Siberia of immigrant peasants and their descendants, of a few merchants.
The construction of the Transiberian Railroad greatly improved transportation and communication, within Siberia and with European Russia. Now mining and logging along the railroad, withy the object of transporting ore respectively timber to European Russia, became feasible; Siberia experienced a strong influx of Russian settlers, the urban centers experienced rapid growth.

Novosibirsk, under the name of Novonikolayevsk, was established in 1893.

Article Novosibirsk, from Wikipedia
DOCUMENTS Articles Siberia, Transbaikalia, Nerchinsk Mining District, Nerchinsk, Vladivostok, Maritime Province, Nikolayevsk on the Amur, from EB 1911
REFERENCE Benson Bobrick, East of the Sun. The Epic Conquest and Tragic History of Siberia, NY : Poseidon 1992 [G]
Article : Siberia, in : International Year Book 1898 pp.701-702 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on August 31st 2007

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