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At one of the locks on the Moscow-Volga canal. Photo by B. Ignatovich. 1930s. Main Archive of Moscow

About 100 thousand workers were involved in its construction, thanks to which it was possible to implement one of the largest projects in the history of the city.

Citizens can learn more about how the Moscow Canal was built. The Glavarchiv has preserved evidence of its construction and the difficulties encountered by specialists.

The Moscow Canal is one of the main structures during the Stalinist reconstruction, which connected the Volga with the Moscow River. This was expected to strengthen Moscow’s role as a commercial and industrial center.

The idea to build a canal appeared in the 18th century, but the technical possibilities did not allow it to be done until the 1930s. Until 1947, the channel was called Moscow – Volga, and then it was renamed in honor of the 800th anniversary of the capital into the Moscow Canal.

By the 1930s, the population of the capital increased, then the question of supplying the city with drinking water arose. Also, for the industrialization and reconstruction of Moscow that began, it was necessary to increase the volume of water transportation of goods, construction and other materials. The main waterway, the Moskva River, could not adequately meet the needs of the rapidly growing city.

In 1931, a plan was developed, according to which it was necessary to start using the Volga resources for water supply to Moscow. Construction of the canal soon began.

Water routes: Glavarkhiv told about the history of transportation along the Moskva River

Difficulties arose from the very beginning. One of the main problems was the lack of personnel. There were several reasons for this: there were no places for eating, hygiene and rest of the builders, and there were frequent downtime in work. In addition, there was a shortage of materials for the construction, and the funds initially allocated were severely curtailed. For example, out of the initially allocated 53 thousand cubic meters of forest, only about one-fifth of this volume was allocated – only 10 thousand. There were also difficulties with supplies – for example, almost a month after the start of construction, there was not a single supply of glass. All this threatened to disrupt the construction deadlines, which were already limited.

To prevent this, the Moscow City Council adopted a resolution on July 11, 1932, where the responsible organizations were instructed to supply the builders of the Moscow-Volga canal with the necessary materials, equipment and provide funding to create the required working conditions. It was also ordered to attract a sufficient number of personnel to the construction – both specialists and workers.

As a result, about 100 thousand workers were involved in the construction, thanks to which one of the largest projects in the history of Moscow was implemented.

The work carried out was impressive in scale, volume, and complexity: their front was 130 kilometers, on which 53 million cubic meters of earthworks were carried out. The main goal was also achieved – to increase the water consumption of Muscovites, which increased to 600 liters per day per inhabitant, which is almost five times more than the minimum guaranteed consumption – 117 liters per day.

In addition, the canal turned the Moskva River into the capital’s main navigable artery. The dimensions of the canal and the dimensions of the lock chambers made it possible for all types of vessels of all sizes to pass it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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