This is a documentary project. Unique personal testimonies of its participants, archival photographs and videos tell about the heritage and history of the legendary construction site.
The collection of documents will be replenished. Anyone who has a page dedicated to BAM can become a participant in the project.
The authors of the project invite you to tell about yourself or your loved ones – workers, builders in the online chronicle.
The more stories and photos will be collected on the platform, the more pleasant memories and opportunities will appear to find out how this “construction of the century” lived.
Interesting facts about people, nature, past and present of the highway are published in the “BAM-50” groups In contact with and Odnoklassniki. “RG” is also involved in the project. Below we introduce our readers to two materials about the history of BAM.
The legendary foreman of the BAM Alexander Bondar bequeathed to bury him on Balbukhta
The big and noisy Bondar was cramped in a city apartment in Khimki. And boring. He could not sit idle. Whether business a summer residence! There is a workbench with tools, and a small workshop in which birch burls are waiting for the cutter. And the house smells of larch spirit. And the walls are hung with photographs – and each one evokes a sea of memories.
Photo: Vladimir Matvievsky / TASS
A dacha in the outback of Tver was built by Sasha’s friends. He ordered a wagon of larch in Severobaikalsk and called the guys from his brigade. We spent the night in tents, as in the old days, cooked food on a fire. And with the sunrise, work began to boil. All have skillful hands. BAM was built, and even a dacha … They built it over the summer. And next to the house and a cozy bathhouse with a blue pool.
Fishing also beckoned him to the dacha. She, like hunting, charged with adrenaline! Once Sasha caught 11 trout. I ask: what will you do with the catch? “I’ll pickle,” he answers, “and send Ivan Varshavsky to Tynda.” And salted, and sent. And he did not remain indebted to his friend – he sent Bondar a jar of salted graylings.
He couldn’t live without friends. Whoever visited his dacha – builders, artists, journalists … People left in awe of communication and songs, and also from a generous treat – sturgeon fish soup “from Cooper”, trout baked on the grill.
He liked to arrange surprises. And somehow he made a gift to his wife Lyubana: secretly from her, he invited her friends to her birthday party, some of them even paid for plane tickets to Moscow. That was the joy of an unexpected meeting!
In the evenings, Bondar lit a cigarette and dialed familiar phone numbers. I talked with Tynda … Severobaikalsky … Aldan … Krasnodar … Friends were scattered around the country. Mobile communication created the feeling that they were still one family.
Once, after talking with Ivan Varshavsky, he went far, far away in his thoughts. And then he said something that had been thought out for a long time:
– I want my ashes to be buried at Balbukhta…
I didn’t ask why? Stupid question. It was there, on Balbukhta, on September 29, 1984, that he and Ivan Varshavsky closed the BAM steel track. And every year on this day, two heroes, two famous foremen – one in Moscow, the other in Tynda – raised a toast to the “golden” docking.
“There is only a moment between the past and the future…” – is sung in the song. It was that very moment. They went to him for ten years from the first landing in Zvezdny, where they cut waist-deep clearings in the snow. Then they built houses in the taiga, did the laying…
There were many excellent brigades at BAM. But Bondar has a unique one: artists with a railroad education! “Do you like theater?” – with a smile he asked those who asked to join the brigade. Director Anatoly Baikov infected them all with this love. During the day, the guys worked on laying the track, taught the roles while they were waiting for the links with the links. And in the evening they went to a rehearsal at their theater “Young Guard”. Do you know how he helped them?
– I remember, I saw the film “Meeting of the Party Committee”, – said Alexander Bondar. – There, a team of builders refused to receive an unearned bonus.
A year later, this situation repeated itself for us: downtime after downtime – either the materials were not delivered, or the equipment did not arrive. And the quarterly award was issued. I was indignant and did not bring the brigade to change. And he told the head of the train: we don’t need handouts! Give us a job and we can make money. The scandal was wild. They wanted to reprimand me, but the leadership did not support the party meeting.
That’s when they staged the play “Meeting of the Party Committee.” We drove with him along the highway, performed at allied companies – bridge workers, machine operators, trumpeters. And we signed a “work relay race” agreement with them. We also went to Taishet to a sleeper impregnation plant (there were not enough sleepers at the construction site all the time). And its director ordered that the “artists” be given 300,000 sleepers from the state reserve. This is what the great power of art means!
And then Bondar’s brigade set a world record for laying the rail track: 5400 meters per day!
– In front of us were explosives, bulldozers, excavators, drivers, bridgemen. We, the track fitters, crowned their work and could not let our comrades down, the foreman recalled. – While the couplers with links were walking one after another, we were laying and sleeping in breaks, where necessary. And when we returned to the “armored train” and went to the bathhouse, I found that my socks were burned – only rubber bands remained …
Barriers stood in the way of the builders – the collapse of the melted vault in the Kodarsky tunnel forced them to go around, the rotten recesses on the way seemed bottomless, and then the bridge over the Vitim did not have time to pass the laying … But even this could not stop them! There was such an uplift of spirit and intensity of passions that they never experienced again.
And on that day, when two tracklayers met at Balbukhta, closing the last gap in the BAM steel track, Alexander Bondar experienced the happiest moment in his life: they completed a huge job! But along with the joy came a deep shock: that’s all, the canvas closed…
I still can’t believe it: yesterday he was big, charming and indefatigable. And today he is no more? The doctors say “heart failure.” But after all, his heart was just in abundance – kind, hot, generous …
Last November, he called me from the hospital:
– I’m being taken to the emergency room. Do you remember Balbukhta?
– I remember, Sasha! Hold on…
And he didn’t hear me anymore.
“Rodina” and “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” propose to make the Dusse-Alin tunnel a monument to the Baikal-Amur Mainline
In the mid-seventies of the last century, the author of these lines worked as a special correspondent for the Khabarovsk youth newspaper on the construction of the Baikal-Amur Mainline. Since then, I imagine the BAM track relatively well. I know who and what built on the Eastern, Central and Western sections of the highway. I am familiar with the then builders and leaders of the Northern Trans-Siberian Railway.
BAM walked west. Photo: Yuri Lepsky
These circumstances give me some reason to propose the idea of a monument to the creators of this road.
I think it must be a tunnel. More precisely – a model, an architectural imitation of a real tunnel. Why a tunnel and not a bridge, for example? There are two reasons.
First: the tunnel is the most time-consuming part of the construction of the highway. A bridge conquers a river, a tunnel conquers a mountain.
There are twenty-one tunnels on the BAM, and all of them are known. From the longest – Severomuysky in the Western section, to the shortest Dusse-Alinsky in the East. In total, inside the mountains, the BAM train travels 90 kilometers for about two hours.
The second reason: it is dark inside the tunnel, and this will create for those who fall into its mouth, an amazing, magical atmosphere of that time, fill it with sounds, images on electronic screens. In this taiga tunnel, installed in some city square, it will be possible to place a small bar or cafe with a real fire.
At the opening of the Dusse-Alin tunnel. There used to be a camp here. Many years later, in this place is your obedient servant (on the left). Photo: Yuri Lepsky
I am not an architect or an artist. But in the place of both of them, I would seize on this idea, it provides great opportunities for both bold fantasies and their embodiments.
And now I would like to tell you something on this subject.
In my opinion, in 1975 it was decided to build a bridge across the Far Eastern Amgun River. The bridge was supposed to pass the railway of the Baikal-Amur Mainline. The best bridge team was entrusted to build the bridge, led by a wonderful person – Albert Aramovich Avakimov. I flew to him when the construction was just beginning. Avakimov lived in a trailer on an earthen patch, which was conquered from the taiga by powerful Japanese bulldozers “Sumitomo”.
We talked, drank tea, and then, when I finally ingratiated myself with Avakimov, he closed my notebook with an authoritative gesture and said: let’s go, I’ll show you something. He himself got behind the wheel of the UAZ, in first gear, with a squeal and a howl, we broke through some old track overgrown with grass to a low plateau, bordered by a rare spruce forest. Avakimov stopped the car, we got out. He was silent, and I looked into his eyes.
Avakimov was the first to tell me about the Gulag. Photo: Yuri Lepsky
In front of me was a tall wooden structure, rickety, with shoots of green twigs on the rungs. At some distance lay a real wheelbarrow with a heavy rusty wheel. Still farther – two squat oblong houses, or cowsheds; further on – fragments, probably, of a fence with leaning wheelbarrows; further on, some rags, dilapidated shoes with holes, boots, a dirty aluminum spoon twisted with a screw; a cast-iron stove with a torn pipe, a pair of rickety crosses sticking out of the melt water…
– What is this? I asked Avakimov.
– Do not you know? he was genuinely surprised.
I didn’t know, I couldn’t even guess. Albert Aramovich embarrassedly walked his fingers through the remnants of his hair, put on his cap and said: okay, let’s go. On the way to the UAZ, he managed to tell me: this is a camp, Yura, there was a camp here. So I – a healthy twenty-two-year-old forehead – first heard about Stalin’s Gulag. He spent the rest of the day telling me what it was…
We talked about the grief of a forced, lifelong separation from loved ones, children, friends. About the grief of an unjust judgment, a publicly slandered life. About the grief of inescapable injustice. About the great camp people, innocent of anything, who went through their hellish path to the end …
Of course, when the bridge over the Amgun was solemnly opened, not a trace of that camp remained: no wheelbarrows, no towers, no crosses sticking out of the melt water. But both that, and another, and the third I had a chance to see once again.
The helicopter brought me to the Dusse-Alin pass in the north of the Khabarovsk Territory. We flew in to take a look at the mothballed tunnel through which the BAM route was supposed to pass. The two-kilometer tunnel was filled with ice, and we failed to get to the western portal. But in front of the east I saw what I once saw on Amgun. But now I knew what I was seeing. BAMLAG built this tunnel for fifteen years – from 1939 to 1953. The Zeki walked towards each other. One camp was located at the western entrance, another – at the eastern one…
Then we looked at the ice plug, bowed to the wheelbarrows and wooden crosses sticking out of the melt water and flew to the village of Chegdomyn – the center of the Eastern section of the highway of the century. But when, after a few years, we again found ourselves in these places on a mountain pass, we asked the driver of our all-terrain vehicle to give a long, long beep. I really wanted to believe that our beep would be heard …
Source: Российская газета by rg.ru.
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