Zelenogorsk Wiki Car Expedition for Railways and Swamps
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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On Saturday, October 24, 2020, people from the Wikimedia Foundation User Group called North-West Russia Wiki-Historians accomplished their another Wiki Expedition to the Kurortny District of Saint Petersburg city to participate in a historical event and to examine some local landmarks. The User Group's activities are usually dedicated to enriching the Wikimedia projects, extending the Wikimedia Movement and to personal development. As Wikinovosti reported in the previous story about such a Wiki Expedition, this year's "rambling" activities were hindered by coronavirus pandemic. But some of the events are still successfully held when necessary precautions are taken. The format of the new expedition was "by car".
The historical event that triggered the expedition was the last run of the so-called "diesel-electric-localtrain" ER2K-930 on the route from St. Petersburg to Sovetskiy settlement by the non-electrified part of the railway line Zelenogorsk-Primorsk-Vyborg. This single-track line connects the main RZD network with the stations of the seashore cities Primorsk and Vysotsk of the Leningrad oblast which stand outside the main railroads. The line is popular among locals, dacha dwellers and tourists and runs along picturesque shores, that's why the corresponding District of Saint Petersburg is named Kurortny ("Resortous"). The main electrified high-speed railroad line, the crossboard Vyborg line, runs straightly from Zelenogorsk to Vyborg, while "Primorsk line" connects with it at these two points, forming an irregular arc along the coast.
Due to non-electrification of Primorsk line's majority, it is impossible to use regular electric suburban trains (EMUs), commonly called "elektrichkas", widely used through 10 suburban segments around Saint Petersburg. So that, non-electrical vehicles are headed there, and their configuration vary through time as RZD's infrastructure evolves. In Soviet times, Hungary-made diesel trains called D1 were exploited, but after USSR dissolution, when "Soviet bloc" (where Hungary was) separated, it became too expensive to buy original spare parts. That's why in mid 1990s the D1s were replaced with 2 older ER2K trains with round-shape cabins. The trains are electric, so they were technically adapted for coupling with diesel locomotives to receive some power from it.
The electric train "by itself" travelled from Petersburg to nodal Zelenogorsk where the pantographs were lowered and the M62 diesel locomotive was coupled to travel furtherly along the non-electrified coast. The locomotive supplied some electricity to the train and compressed air for brakes. The electric supply could only power doors and loud communication, so that there were no heating and even lighting within the train, that's why the scheme was used only during summer times. You can watch a lot of photos by this link at LiveJournal. The train under the number 930 was the last one of its type to be used at the area, and the run on October 24 was the latest for it at that route while the train was 49 years old (this was the first goal of the Wiki Expedition).
The first stop: Zelenogorsk railway station, ER2K-930's last run
The event gathered not only the Wiki Expeditioners, but also a significant number of the so-called "railfans", the railway enthusiasts. From their point of view, the main event was the coupling of locomotive at Zelenogorsk station after 11 AM. One of the Wiki Expeditioners went to the Expedition from St. Petersburg's Finland Station by that train and joined the others in Zelenogorsk. Thanks to him, the images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons now feature this train's last run at its start.
Upon seeing off the combined train, the joint crew held a briefing and began to examine Zelenogorsk town itself. The first landmark to be visited was the Novikov's mansion (Russian WP article) — the manor built in the beginning of the 20th century that is protected by state as Cultural Heritage object of federal value. Until this year, it was mainly abandoned, but now it is being reconstructed. The Wiki Historians walked around it, photographed it and found out that elder Iron Gate, a part of heritage, were not present and only poles remained.
Furthermore, the crew members examined and photographed the buildings of Bellevue hotel (article in Russian), dacha of King and villa of Watinnen, all of them listed Cultural Heritage Monuments. A walk to the shore of the Gulf of Finland was made to view Petersburg's skyline. After that, a brief stop was made near Ainola villa with a small dam-bridge and a pond. Then, the "ramblers" went to Komarovo settlement.
The main point at Komarovo was the park of the Reno's villa with cascade pond system. The travellers planned to make photos of the main villa building (which actually is a copy of the original destroyed by fire in 2013) and the neighboring Yukhnevich's dacha, but modern tall fences interfered. That's why the travellers could only walk around the open part of the park, which is a part of the specially protected natural area "Komarovsky beach". There is an "eco-pathway" within the park, featured with infoboards and litterbins, and because of that a lot of people, locals and tourists, visit the venue — almost no parking lots were available and some tourist buses were noticed. The crew members found and photographed an abandoned fountain, which was not included in Russian Wikipedia's List of Petersburg Fountains (Russian link), which the User Group helps to maintain.
The expeditioners were not statisfied with the preliminary results and decided to photograph all of the unphotographed Cultural Heritage objects of Komarovo. The task was not easy because many of the historical dachas are within private areas and behind tall fences.
The final point of the expedition turned to be Beloostrov. The town until 1944 was a bordering territory with neighboring Finland. Because of that, in Stalin times, slightly to the east of it a set of military structures were constructed as a part of the Karelian Fortified Region — mainly so-called pillboxes. The 6 of them, made before 1940, are official Cultural Heritage objects, but there was a photo of only one of them at corresponding Wikivoyage's roster (Russian link to the roster). The rest of pillboxes are located within a large swamp, so travellers were not sure if they could get there. But briefly they made the right decision and went on. As the result, they made 4-kilometer trip by the swamps and got the desired photographs in details. The required objects were pillboxes №№ 56 and 223 and also an artillery half-caponier called В-16 where an impressive cannon called ZIF-25 is preserved (Russian wikipedia link: 2 photos were added). Along the way, a lot of swamp/forest mushrooms were found and also photographed for the corresponding Wikimedia Commons category called "Fungi of Saint Petersburg".
The Swamp part
All of the expedition's photos you can, as usual, see at the event's Commons category: Category:Wikimeetup in Kurortny District (Saint Petersburg) 2020-10-24. The general information on the Wikimedia Foundation's "North-West Russia Wiki-Historians User Group" see at its official page at Meta-Wiki (in 9 languages).
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- Because, and it's widely known at WMF, EWN is a failed project run by "czars" exhausting newcomers to not to allow them to participate. Some details are here and in many other places such as this (manually locate my comments on EWN within there) and this. --ssr (обсуждение) 14:05, 26 ноября 2020 (UTC)