Moscow Main Archive told how the Moscow canal was built

July 15

Citizens can learn more about how the Moscow canal was built. The Moscow Main Archive (Glavarchiv) has preserved evidence of its construction and the difficulties faced by specialists.

The Moscow canal is one of the main structures of the times of Stalin's reconstruction, connecting the Volga with the Moskva River. It was expected that this would strengthen the role of Moscow as a commercial and industrial center.

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

Construction of the Moscow-Volga canal. Conceptual and information stand dedicated to Moscow-Volga canal construction. Photo by B. Ignatovich. 1935. Moscow Glavarchiv

By the 1930s, the population of the capital increased, and then the question of supplying the city with drinking water came up. In addition, for the started industrialization and reconstruction of Moscow, it was necessary to increase the volume of cargo, construction and other materials transportation by water. The main waterway - the Moskva River - could not sufficiently 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 the water supply to Moscow. Soon the construction of the canal began.

Water routes: Moscow Main Archive tells the history of transportation on the Moskva River

Difficulties arose at the very beginning. One of the main problems was the lack of qualified staff. There were several reasons for this: there were no places for the builders eating, hygiene and recreation, there were also frequent downtime in work. In addition, there were not enough materials for construction, and the funds allocated initially were severely cut. For example, of the 53 thousand cubic meters of forest originally allocated, only about one-fifth of this volume was allocated - only 10 thousand. There were also difficulties with deliveries, for example, almost a month after the start of construction, there was not a single supply of glass. All this threatened to the schedule delay, which were already limited.

At one of the Moscow-Volga canal lock. Photo by B. Ignatovich. 1930s. Moscow Glavarchiv

To prevent this, the Moscow City Council adopted a resolution on July 11, 1932, where 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 whom it was possible to implement one of the largest projects in the history of Moscow.

The building at one of the Moscow-Volga canal locks. Photo by B. Ignatovich. 1930s. Moscow Glavarchiv

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

In addition, the canal turned the Moskva River into the main navigable artery of Moscow. The dimensions of the canal and the dimensions of the lock chambers allowed all types of vessels of any size to pass through it.

The dam on the Moscow-Volga canal. Photo by B. Ignatovich. 1930s. Moscow Glavarchiv


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