Beacon Guide to the Leningrad Region
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Beacon Guide to the Leningrad Region

In Russia, lighthouse tourism has finally started to develop. In the Northern capital and its environs it is cultivated by enthusiasts of the «Nam light project.»
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If you want romance on a land vacation, it's time to go to the surrounding area. St. Petersburg .- to watch the beacons. In Russia, following Europe, lighthouse tourism finally began to develop. The main routes in the Leningrad region have already been laid by enthusiasts from the project Nam «bright . Northern, Southern and Evening - along Kronstadt lighthouses and to Tolbukhin lighthouse.

History in the towers. The route to the Tolbukhin «lighthouse...»

In 1719 Peter I ordered to put beacons on the Kotlin Spit and islands of the Gulf of Finland. The tsar himself made a drawing of the first lighthouse for the new capital, which now serves as a landmark at the entrance to the St. Petersburg Sea Canal. It was «Kotlinsky,»renamed Tolbukhin«in» honour of the first commandant of Kronstadt. First wooden, burnt and reborn from ashes, then brick.

This is not only the first (after Arkhangelsk) lighthouse in Russia, but for a long time it was equipped with a telegraph and telephone. And during the USSR epoch the first wind power station was installed on an artificial island where the lighthouse stands. On the eve of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, Tolbukhin «»was overhauled - somehow, the heritage of UNESCO. And on the lighthouse settled a new married couple of caretakers - Dmitry and Julia Masko.

You can't just climb up the lighthouse and visit them - it's a secure facility. Only the Peterhof «Southern Lighthouse in the Lower» Park of the Peterhof «Museum Reserve is freely accessible in the Leningrad Region. But now it is possible»to approach to an island on which Tolbukhin «stands, by boat together with the organized excursion.

The journey continues at the lighthouses of the St. Petersburg Sea Canal. Without these landmarks it was impossible for ships to pass a narrow, specially deepened fairway and enter the city. Any deviation from the course - and the ship is broke. In 1983, the channel put the highest lighthouse in Russia. Its height - 73 meters - can only argue with the number of letters in its name: Rear lighthouse of «the St. Petersburg sea channel "Vstrechny". Only Ladoga lighthouses - Osinovetsky (70 m) «and Storozhensky» (71 m) compete»with it. These are the highest lighthouses in the world. However, compared to the lighthouses of the Gulf of Finland, the towers of Ladoga are much harder to reach: you have to go by boat for 3.5 hours one way or sneak in the swamp. And so far, tours there are only occasionally.

The southern route. Red Hill and Shepelevsky «Beacon»

Four years ago along the opposite shores of the Gulf of Finland were laid Northern and Southern routes to the lighthouses of the Leningrad region. The southern route began with the inspection of the Irbensky «»floating lighthouse, which stood on a prank in Lomonosov harbour. Then the bus took tourists to Krasnaya Gorka and to Shepelevsky «lighthouse.

In the area of Krasnaya Gorka - the narrowest and therefore the most dangerous place in the Gulf of Finland: the fairway is laid close to the shore. This bay was discovered by Peter I when the siege of Vyborg was going on. The tsar founded a guard fort, later a lighthouse appeared a little aside. Now it is on the territory of the military unit, but it is beautifully visible from behind the fence.

Part of the pleasure of the trip was a walk along the shore of the Gulf of Finland to Fort Krasnaya «Gorka,»which in the Great Patriotic War was the center of defense of the Oranienbaum patch. It was also revived by enthusiasts. They set up a museum there with guns and railway cannons in the open air.

On the same route there is Shepelevsky«lighthouse, which is situated in a very picturesque Zen landscape. To get to it, you need to go through the forest, which leads to the shore, dotted with rocks. The lighthouse is functioning, but, again, it is closed for visiting. It was made in France back in 1910 as a brick tower with a lantern with two colour signals - red and white. Two long flashes every quarter of a minute. The contrast to the classic lighthouse is the modern radar station next door. As a strategic point, during the Great Patriotic War Shepeljovsky «lighthouse played» an important role - it was a reference point on the way to the islands of the Gulf of Finland: Seskar, Powerful, Tuthers and Gogland. All tracks were then additionally equipped with mobile acetylene lamps, and above all - the Road «of Life on Lake» Ladoga. The lanterns were placed directly on the ice, and cars went to the light of beacons. Then the regulators took them on safe routes. Hydrographs from ice and road detachments served the routes.

The northern route. Kronstadt

The northern route was laid in the opposite direction. On the Scandinavian coast of the Gulf of Finland tourists were shown the lighthouse Stirsudden«,»Cape Fleet and the sights of Kronstadt: St. Nicholas Cathedral, and not yet the «wooden lighthouse Ust-Rogatka»« in the Merchant»'s harbour of the city. It's a favorite place for newlyweds called the Kronstadt raid»'s «backdoor sign. It is very controversial: current, but reserve; iron, but upholstered with wood. A lighthouse type, but a navigation sign, because the range is less than ten nautical miles.

Later, the «Nam project had a bright» evening water tour around the lighthouses of Kronstadt harbours with a landing on Kronshlot Island and a visit to the abandoned Lower Nikolaev Lighthouse, which has been out of operation for over a century.

It also included the rear and front lighthouses of the St. Petersburg Sea Canal, and not so visible, but the oldest operating lighthouse on the territory of Kronstadt - Friedrichstadt. Its official name is the Luminous «Sign of Military Corner No. 1, and it was»established already in 1852. It marked the southeast corner of the Military Harbour as a navigational hazard for mariners and also served as a reference point for traffic between Kronstadt and the port of Oranienbaum «(Lomonosov»). The British and French, learning about its existence, depicted the lighthouse on maps as a huge tower. In fact, it was a metal structure with bulbs just over ten meters high.

But only the founders of the project Olga Isayeva and Andrei Shpartyko, as well as Anastasia Makarova, who joined them, approved the routes, as life made its corrections. «The Irbensky» floating lighthouse was handed over to the World Ocean Institute after repair and sent to Kaliningrad. And in Fort Konstantin «in Kronstadt» the Museum of the Lighthouse Service was opened, created by the same enthusiasts. It became clear that this is now a key point in all routes.

A beacon in the bushes. Museum of the Beacon Service

The Museum of Beacon Service was opened in Fort «Constantine» by two hydrographic friends in 2017. They collected most of the exhibition in just six months. The most valuable findings were made in the bushes along the coast of the Gulf of Finland and in abandoned sheds in the Leningrad Region. True, as specialists, the founders of the museum knew where to look, that is, where stood the lighthouse towers, which in the 80s were equipped with new equipment. And the old, historical, then simply thrown away - as nobody needs. Or, at worst, destroyed or melted down. Then the exhibits began to be given by visitors to the museum who found something at their summer cottage, or by friends who help to take out, buy out and deliver old lighthouse equipment from all over the country. Few things have reached the entire museum. Has learned that the lanterns made standard. If you find one without glass, the other rusty, and the third without a door, you can collect one whole from three broken.

The pride of the Museum of Beacon Service is the first flashing lens in Russia. It is a huge composite lens Fresnel, with which to collect light and increase the range of the beam on the lighthouse on the island of Seskar. The same principle is used in the manufacture of car headlights and traffic lights. For lighthouse service of the XIX century the invention of Frenchman Fresnel became a breakthrough akin to electricity. He would know that he was trying for Russia.

The first flashing lens in Russia

The lens was installed on the Cescar Lighthouse in 1858. The lighthouse, by the way, was also the first of its kind - it was the first fully cast-iron lighthouse in Russia. The lens of one and a half tons of glass and metal was detachable, it was taken from Great Britain for a year and assembled on the spot as a designer. It was the second category with a diameter of 40 meters (the first category had a diameter of 80 meters). The lower and upper sectors stood stationary and shone at 27 kilometers with white fire. There were eight oil burners in the centre. The sescara lens had sashes and a rotating drum. Each sash formed its own beam. There were 12 rays, like chamomile. When the beam passed by the ship, the watchman perceived it as a flash. It could be seen for 30 kilometres. Flashes like that happened every 30 seconds.

In 1987 the lens of the Seskar lighthouse was dismantled and unloaded on the shore in the area of Kronstadt and K&nbsp. Ust-Luga. Forgotten and abandoned, she spent 30 years in a barn in the Leningrad region.

Cuckoo clock

There is also a drum mechanism that actuates a flashing lens in the Museum of Beacon Service. The one that stood on the Shepelevsky «Lighthouse from» 1928 to the mid 50s, when it was replaced by the new Soviet one, has been miraculously preserved. Almost a century-old bronze drum is still spinning like a clock.

And it worked like this: a steel rope was wound on the drum, on which hung a weight of 250-300 kg. According to the principle of the cuckoo clock, the weight dropped down, the drum rotated and transmitted the movement to the lens. And the lighthouse keeper ran up a spiral staircase with a can of oil every night, poured oil into the burner, corrected wicks, took off soot, cleaned windows, manually lit the burner and wound the mechanism. If everything worked well, he'd go to rest. But at the same time, the next watchman would run upstairs again in a few hours, and everything would repeat itself.

Souvenir from Vladivostok

Hope for rest beacon keepers gave acetylene, which began to apply in the early XX century. This gas burns well, almost does not give soot and is stored in cylinders, which gives a long autonomous work of the lighthouse. It's not like throwing wood or sipping oil several times a night.

At the beginning of XX century plants for the production of acetylene were supplied to all fleets of Russia, but did not have time to establish production of their equipment, and until 1933 bought imported.

By the way, acetylene flashing lights were automatically switched on at night thanks to Nobel laureate Nils Gustaf Dalén. At the beginning of XX century he invented the solar valve. The central black rod warmed up during the day and cut off the gas supply, while at night it cooled down and let it pass. That solar valve that is kept in the Museum of Beacon Service came from Vladivostok, and friends of the museum helped to get it. Only six months the find couldn't be delivered to Kronstadt: the old equipment wasn't taken to the plane. It was necessary to wait, when acquaintances will drive by train.

Unremarkable zest

The exposition also has its own highlight - a portable electric torch for subversive groups. It has an infrared radiation mode. This range is invisible to the eye. Such a flashlight could be placed on the shore of the enemy, disguised in the bushes. You can't see it without a device, and you can't see your ship, walk, use it. The lantern worked automatically up to four days, and then it was necessary to start the mechanism again or to remove the beacon.

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