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Jon Pearson (Telegraph Online)

Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga

By The Siberian Times reporter
22 October 2018

This witness to the Siberian gold rush might be the only one left in the world.

A message from the past - a 19th century English steam engine. Picture: Vladimir Chernikov

Two travellers from Krasnoyarsk made incredible discovery after years of hearing rumours that the engine was left at deserted gold mines. 

It took three lengthy expedition around vast Krasnoyarsk region before Vladimir Chernikov and Dmitry Semenov, both members of Russian Geographical Society, found the engine. 

The spectacular machine was made in Leiston, Suffolk by Richard Garrett & Sons. 

The manufacturer worked in England between 1778 and 1932, and commemorated by the  modern-day Long Shop Museum.

Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 


Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 


Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 


Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 
An amazing discovery was made by two members of the Russian Geographical Society. Pictures: Vladimir Chernikov


‘I called a friend from the Royal Geographic Society in London who contacted the museum in Leiston’, said explorer Vladimir Chernikov. 

‘They were so excited to hear about the find.

‘They said this might be the only engine like this left in the world.

‘It is in very good condition and can function after it is repaired.’ 

There were in fact two machines that worked during 19th century gold rush in the Sukhobuzimsky district of Krasnoyarsk region, some 70km north of capital city Krasnoyarsk. 

The first machine was left closer to villages and was taken apart over the years; the second was abandoned in the taiga - which saved it - and it is almost completely intact. 
Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 

Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 

Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 


Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 
This witness to the Siberian gold rush might be the only one left in the world. Pictures show a steam engine produced by the same manufacturer later on in 1904, and exploere Vladimir Chernikov


‘There were some parts of the machine taken by local collectors. We had a drive around nearby villages and picked them up', Chernikov said.

‘We still don’t know exactly what type of work the engine did.’

It is believed the machine was likely used by gold miners to pump out water, to bring ore to the surface, and to crush rocks. 

Siberian explorers are waiting to hear from England on how exactly that machine found its way so far east.

Right now this is the only material evidence of the gold rush in Krasnoyarsk Krai, which in tsarist times was called Eniseyskaya gubernia. 

Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 


Unique 19th century English steam engine found in the depths of Siberian taiga 
A 19th century English steam engine. Pictures: Vesti Krasnoyarsk 


The gold mines in the area were first named after Alexander Nevsky, and then renamed into Posolsko-Kuzeyevskiye. 

The mines stopped working in 1952. 

The steam engine has been moved from its resting place in the taiga and taken to Sukhobuzimskoye village museum.

It is expected to undergo repairs, and to be restored to working order for the first time since the 19th century.

Steam engine taken to Sukhobuzimskoye village museum. Pictures: Vladislav Vlasov

Steam engine delivered to museum


Steam engine delivered to museum


Steam engine delivered to museum


Steam engine delivered to museum

Comments (9)

You can see by the careful way that this riveted plate-steel engine from the 19th C crushes DOC's Super Duty Ford pickup truck-truck flatter'n the proverbial pancake, that just maybe the heavy equipment company from Siberia has their main-clues lined-up front-to-back, after all.

Also known as: "Ohh ... so THAT'S how they were going to haul this monstiferous artifact from way out there in the effectively-roadless middle o' nowhere'!"

Nice job fellas. Very nice. :)
Ted Clayton, Forks, Washington, USA
21/11/2018 02:12
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You can see by the careful way that they are dropping it into the back of a dump truck...that it has significant value and historic meaning.
DOC, US
20/11/2018 03:49
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This engine is a portable. It was not self-propelled and would have required horses to pull it from place to place.
It very closely resembles a compound portable built in the 1890s shown in R A Whitehead's book Garretts of Leiston (1964, reprinted 1976).
More than one commentator above says that this was a stationery engine, but the axles for the rear wheels are clearly visible protruding from the firebox. Garretts exported engines like this to many parts of the world and it is quite possible that other examples still survive.
John Jones, Stowmarket, Suffolk, UK
18/11/2018 04:58
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Amazing how little folks know about this sort of thing. There are hundreds of these laying around old placer gold mines here in Alaska. It is a stationery engine that burned wood cut from the forest and never had wheels. Steam drove the output wheel which belt-drove whatever you wanted it to, as someone already said. If it was an underground hardrock mine it might have driven an air compressor that drove drills, a saw mill, a hoist, an air supply maybe and perhaps a crusher. If it was a placer mine, it likely drove a sawmill and a tramway or something to transport gravel to a processing plant. There's no real mystery here. Looks to be in great shape and I'm sure it can be restored to usable condition.
Richard Flanders, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
01/11/2018 18:38
1
1
Wow.... what a find. I think this would have been used as a static power engine to drive other pieces of machinery.

The company Garrett & Sons was active under its original ownership between 1778 and 1932.



Well worth preserving..!
Mike, Chester - UK
31/10/2018 20:43
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This was a Traction Engine that would have pulled wagons and other types of trailers. It was Self Propelled.
Michael Hill, St. Loui, Missouri, United States
31/10/2018 13:03
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Looks more like a portable engine than a traction enigine and would have been used to drive other equipment such as pumps and winding drums. Would have had lots of uses and I hope they find out more about its history. Truly a remarkable find.
Rob, United kingdom
30/10/2018 15:50
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This engine is a static machine designed to drive pumps, crushers, saws or overhead line shafts via a belt off the drive wheel or flywheel. It would have stood on a stone/brick/concrete plinth. It never had wheels and would certainly never have moved under its own steam. It would have been delivered in pieces and was probably assembled by a Garrett engineer,
Hugh Darlington, Spilsby, England
30/10/2018 15:08
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So 'what on earth' would 'a thing like this' do, in the rough mining-country of far-away Siberia? It doesn't look like a bulldozer, or steam-shovel or other useful machine, does it?

It could have been used to tow supplies to the workings. Early bulldozers did a LOT of sled-pulling, in many high-Northern regions (these are popular public 'trails' today, in Alaska). Say from the nearest stream up which flat-boats could be poled or horse-drawn. If it put in many miles/years on crude roads (like the rutted quagmire in the picture..), then the cross-bars on the big drive-wheels might show the wear. (They tried to avoid quagmires, by hauling in the winter.)

Other machines like this, despite the name "Traction Engine", were not used so much for traction, but instead sport a large flat-belt drive-pulley, which would power then-conventional belt-drive mechanical apparatus ('mill-works'). Steam could also be plumbed from the engine, to heat buildings.

Some machines very similar to this, had only very feeble drive-wheels, although large. The 'power-train' of these was meant only to move the engine from place-to-place, where it would become essentially a stationary steam-engine.

But even as the real traction-version was replacing the non-traction "road engines", miniature locomotives, using more-efficient boilers, and running on small railroad-track that was quickly laid - and quickly pulled up again - were literally running circles around the giant wheeled engines.

It would be especially cool, if the goal is actually to get it running again. Once a year, fire it up and join a parade down the main street of Sukhobuzimskoye village.
Ted Clayton, Forks, USA
28/10/2018 01:33
1
0
1

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