In this photo Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii is shown on the right with his dog and two unnamed guards from the Murmansk Railway. If I’m being completely honest the reason this photo caught my attention is that the two guards are giving thumbs up, people in older photos tend to be so stoic that this was refreshing to see. The other reasons I found it interesting was that Sergei was in this photo, and that this railway was being constructed during the entirety of World War I.
The photo was taken in 1915, construction on the Murmansk Railway started in 1914 and ended in the spring of 1917. Guards were a necessity not only because the railway was being built in the midst of World War I, but because German and Austrian prisoners of war were used as forced laborers to to try and make up for the labor shortage caused by the war. The railway didn’t really have an affect on the outcome of World War I, it was completed too late to make a difference. But it was useful for the Russians in World War II, the city of Murmansk is a port in the north of Russia and the railway was used to move American goods that arrived from the Lend-Lease Act.
Pictured above are some German and Austrian prisoners of war who worked on the Murmansk Railway in front of their barracks