A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  SearchSearch  

Share | 

 Railways to nowhere

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
Dirk Marinus

Posts : 146
Join date : 2016-02-03

PostSubject: Railways to nowhere   Fri 27 Apr 2018, 19:46

Back to top Go down

Posts : 1626
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: Railways to nowhere   Sat 28 Apr 2018, 20:51

Nothing so erudite as the article linked by Dirk but there were a couple of railway lines - one going to Shrewsbury and one going to Uttoxeter from my hometown which were axed back in the day.  There was also a track that used to lead off the main line (between Stafford and Wolverhampton) at one time and I was told that used to go to the nearest coalfield.  Of course the coalfield at Huntington was one of those closed by Baroness T so I guess that could be construed as a line to nowhere now.
Back to top Go down

Posts : 1041
Join date : 2012-05-12

PostSubject: Re: Railways to nowhere   Sat 05 Jan 2019, 17:30

Not a Stalinist railway to nowhere this but a related road to somewhere. This was the Arctic Highway or the Arctic Ocean Highway to give it its more specific name. It was a road which was not in Alaska or Canada or Russia or even in Norway but was actually located in Finland and provided a vital overland link for that country along its narrow corridor to the small (but crucially ice-free) harbour at Liinahamari on the Arctic Ocean. Finland’s extensive coastline along the Gulfs of Finland and Bothnia was prone to freezing in winter. Not so for the short strip of land along the Petsamo coastline which, despite being further north, remained usable all year round. And as with other countries with narrow coastlines (e.g. Iraq and Zaire etc) Finland made maximum use of what little it did have.

Although for centuries there had been an inland road of sorts in the Finnmark province of neighbouring Norway, this was never more than just a glorified local track. What is significant about Finland’s Arctic Ocean Highway is that it was the first road north of the Arctic Circle which was intended for motorised traffic. Even more remarkable is that construction of it began in 1916 when the Grand-Duchy of Finland was still part of the Russian Empire. The exigencies of the First World War almost certainly played a part in the decision to build the road but one would have thought that at that time a railway would have been the default choice as mode of transport particularly in such a wild and remote location. For example the Russian port city of Murmansk (80 miles further east along the coast) and with over a quarter of a million inhabitants today, did not exist in 1916 but was also founded that year and indeed with a railway linking it south towards St Petersburg and the rest of Russia.  

The decision for the Finnish coast at Petsamo, however, was for a road able to accommodate motor vehicles. Far-sighted or otherwise, the project was continued by Finland after it became independent in 1917. This accelerated following the 1920 treaty in which Soviet Russia acknowledged Finland’s independence and recognised its borders. The treaties of 1920 and 1921 (which also saw Moscow recognising Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian and Polish independence) were an early signal that the Bolsheviks had given up on the goal of world revolution and instead had resigned themselves to achieving ‘communism in one country’ although it would be another 4 years before Stalin would publicly admit this. That said – 1921 did see the Red Army invade and annex Stalin’s homeland of Georgia crushing the democratic republic there. So it wasn’t all sweetness and reason emanating from the Bolsheviks at that time by any stretch of the imagination.

Back in Lapland, work on the road continued but it wouldn’t officially be opened until ten years later in 1931. Even then it wasn’t fully metalled but was a hotch-potch construction patched-up with gravel, sand, logs, planks and bark along the way. It was, however, deemed suitable for motor traffic and rapidly became a tourist magnet for the adventurous motoring set. No such road existed so far north in any other country. The was even a British travelogue film made c.1938 in which a couple from the British Embassy drove an Austin 10 from Helsinki thru central Finland to Oulu on the Gulf of Bothnia and then up to Lapland before finally joining the Highway at Rovaniemi from whence they still had 330 miles to travel on the last leg to the Arctic Ocean. Here’s a short article from the Rovaniemi Museum on Finland’s Arctic Ocean coast:
Finland on the coast of the Arctic Ocean

Alas - Stalin would have the final word. In 1944 Petsamo (Russian name Pechenga) was annexed to the Soviet Union along with other parts of Finland including large chunks of Karelia. Thus Finland lost its Arctic coastline and the Arctic Ocean Highway its main purpose and so was essentially abandoned.
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content

PostSubject: Re: Railways to nowhere   

Back to top Go down

Railways to nowhere

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of ideas ... :: Political ideology-