Lighthouses of the Khasan District

The Khasan District lies at the extreme southern end of Russia's Pacific coast, adjoining North Korea. The district government posted a page on the history of the district's lighthouses, and this is my attempt at translating that page. The name of the author is not given.

Lighthouses of the Khasan District

This information is prepared by the specialist of the Division of the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of the administration of Khasan District.

The history of Russia's mastery of the coast began in its extreme south, where the region called Khasan is located now. Specifically, here on the shore of Pos'eta Bay was placed the first Russian military post, Novgorod. Pos'eta Bay, the Novgorod post, Bay Slav, Naezdnik and other places were frequently visited by warships at the end of the past century, sufficient activity to cause concern about navigation. Since then more than a hundred years have passed, and little remains today which reminds one of those distant times. But the lighthouses stand as always and each evening light fires as silent witnesses of the history of the mastery of this distant coast - in our region four lighthouses, each of which has its history, closely related to the history of the coast.

Questions about the improvement of navigation and the guarantee of the safety of commercial shipping in the region of Peter the Great Bay were raised as early as the 1880's: "I order Lieutenant Colonel Babkin," says Admiral Kazakevich's order of 18 May 1887, to leave on the steamship America "for the inspection of the coast, estuary, De Kastri bay and generally all places, where steamships will have to visit, and for the designation, after inspecting the coasts, after making observations, in which places it is more necessary to place ranges or markers, and also where it is more necessary to place lighthouses." The complexity of the coastline, the reefs and rocks which are encountered in entering the bays, with the frequent fogs and winds complicated navigation in these waters. Nature itself indicated the need for building lighthouses. The main hydrographic administration of the naval ministry of Russia approved a plan for the "gradual construction of lighthouses in all our seas, which most require the illumination of beacons...", to the realization of which the ministry separated a specific sum of money. Money was the major factor by which they were guided with the selection of places for construction of lighthouses, providing safety of navigation, since these places were not always convenient for the building and further maintenance of light towers. It was necessary to solve problems with respect to the contractors with construction materials, to the delivery of beacon equipment and so forth - this required extra-budgetary resources and time; therefore the periods of the building of lighthouses were seldom short.

In 1896 our region's first lighthouse appeared on Nazimova Cape at the entrance into Pos'eta Bay, where "between the right input shore and... the left cliffs a precipitous naked rock, from which extended a continuous bank of other rocks are near the coast. Between them lies the passage, which only an extremely skillful and brave navigator can find and recognize." Thus the writer S.V. Maximov described this place. He visited Pos'eta Bay in 1860 to suggest building of a lighthouse where bonfires were lit to guide vessels entering the bay. The present Nazimovskiy lighthouse, prefabricated in France, was delivered in 1910, at the same time a fog bell was established. The lighthouse was reconstructed in 1956. A white round metallic tower - so appears the Nazimovskiy lighthouse today.


Nazimovsky Lighthouse

The history of the building of the lighthouse on Cape Gamow is interesting. The cape was discovered in 1854 by the crew of the frigate Pallas and was named for one of the junior officers, naval cadet D.I. Gamow. Cape Gamow was a very dangerous place for seamen because of its frequent fogs and strong winds. It was said that the local residents who decided to go around this cape placed offerings and prayed to God in the chapels, which were built on both sides of the cape in the bay. In 1897 the steamship Vladimir, en route from Pos'eta to Vladivostok, wrecked on the rocks of the cape in the fog . This tragedy made it necessary to hasten the building of a lighthouse. But first it was necessary to determine the proper place for it. The selection of the place included finding the site which would ensure best operation of the lighthouse with the smallest expenditures for building and operation. This selection was made by a special commission on 24 March 1901.

Inspecting the Gamow cape, the commission arrived at the conclusion that "for the greatest angle of the illumination of lighthouse" it must be placed "at a distance of 120 sagenes [840 ft or 256 m] from the southern extremity of this cape." Almost all the materials necessary for the building were found in our area: granite for the foundation and block rubble for the erection of buildings, sand in the Vityz Bay, clay suitable for the stove works in Telyakovskeyeo Bay. Firewood necessary for the life on the lighthouse could be found "on the northeastern and northwestern slopes of the River Tumennoi". The Alekseyev Bay could be used for unloading the construction and beacon equipment with shelter from the high winds, which are frequent in these places.

Work on building the lighthouse was begun in 1901 and the cost was estimated at 99,481 rubles. It was planned to finish the construction by 1 September 1904. But part of the equipment, which was made in France, was lost in transit. There was correspondence with the naval ministry about the restoration of the lost equipment, and a new order was sent to France "to supply the new parts of the apparatus instead of those lost", but the the Russo-Japanese war began. The building of the lighthouse was interrupted, and it was renewed at the end of the war. Builders hurried to complete the project. They first finished building the outbuildings, begun in 1901, then they approached the building of the tower. They constructed rapidly. They completed the tower with the lantern in one year's construction. All construction work was completed on 1 June of 1906, about which reported the first supervisor of the lighthouse, technician Turkovich: "I report to your Excellency, that the work on building of the lighthouse is finished and the engineers have returned: keeper's house with the apparatus, the building of the beacon, storerooms, the outhouse, fuel shed, stone fence, the fog signal building, a shed for the bell."

The Lighthouse Commission inspected the lighthouse on 16 June 1906 but the light began its work prior to inspection, on 20 April 1906, in the interest of providing safety of navigation. Documents state that a change in the channel to and from the Vladivostok port made it necessary "to open prematurely the Gamow lighthouse with a temporary white light in April and to appoint a keeper from 20 this April with the salary of 1110 rubles per year." The keepers, which attended lighthouses, were recruited from seamen, who were stranded or settled here, and from citizens, who worked on the hire. The first supervisor of the Gamow lighthouse was the already mentioned technician Turkovich. In addition, the lighthouse staff included 7 civilians, two telegraphists - Ivan Smirnov and Maxim Lisenko, and a machinist crew consisting of three people. The first machinist on the lighthouse was sailor Vasiliy Ivanchenko, who arrived at Cape Gamow during April 1906. In 1910 the fog bell was brought and established.

Besides his basic responsibilities, the supervisor of the lighthouse was assigned to conduct meteorological observations, for which purpose the hydrographic administration was ordered to transfer the meteorological station from Pos'eta to Cape Gamow, and technician Turkovich was charged with the "production of one signal mast and one weather instrument shelter on the model of Goldobinskoy."


Lighthouse on Gamova Cape

Thus began service on the lighthouse, whose light indicates the way to vessels.

A question about the need for the building of a lighthouse on Cape Bryusa was raised as early as 1896, but the beginning of building was put aside for several years. Only in 1906 "given the conditions existing on Peter the Great Bay, in the interests of navigation and safe sailing it is recognized as necessary to establish markers and lights on the Verkhovskeyeo islands, Durnovo...and a lighthouse of the 6th order on Bryusa cape."

The main hydrographic administration of the naval ministry of Russia was ordered to begin building the lighthouse in 1907. The plan of building provided for the construction of residences and structures, necessary for the permanant occupation of people in this place remote from other populated areas. The plan of the lighthouse included a brick tower "with kerosene storeroom below and storeroom in the stairway for storing the apparatus and miscellaneous instruments," apartments in a wooden house "for the accomodation of three people for the command of the lighthouse," wooden outhouse, icehouse, a cistern for the collection of rain water for the needs of the keepers, boat shed, shed for the bell, clock cabinet, and a platform for a gun, and it was supported by an appropriation of 16,144 rubles.

The lighthouse was located two cable lengths [about 1200 ft or 370 m] to the southwest of the cape. French engineers supervised its building, as they did the building of the Nazimova and Gamow lighthouses. Optical equipment was supplied by the same French firm. The building of the lighthouse was prolonged over several years. On 19 September 1913 the supervisor of lighthouses reported the installation of apparatus for the lighthouse. The apparatus was installed by junior technician Tschaikovsky.

An official commission consisting of eight people, assigned by the commander of the port of Vladivostok, accepted the lighthouse on 1 October 1913, as reported by the staff of the commander of the Siberian flotilla on 3 October 1913. Retired Captain First Class Ryumin, who headed the commission of lighthouses and pilotages, wrote: "The board of lighthouses and pilotages reports that the lighthouse" of Bryusa "is opened by the commission, assigned by order of the port of 24 September of this year; moreover the position is determined: latitude 42° 52' 55", longitude 131° 28' 12". Color of the lights: white, red, green. Fog signal: bell. Nature of the fire: 7.5 seconds of light, 7.5 seconds of eclipse. Range of visibility of the light: 18 miles. Height of the light: 29 feet from the base and 24 feet above sea level. "First this October is opened the illumination of Bryusa lighthouse", the board communicated in a telegram addressed to "Petersburg. Hydrography".

A. Morozov, who settled himself at the lighthouse together with the family, was the first supervisor of the lighthouse, and his wife was counted as his assistant. The crew, which attended the lighthouse, included 8 people. Life on the Bryusa cape was difficult. There was no road, and it was complicated to obtain provisions. "8 versts by sea [5.3 miles or 8.5 km] - great distance for the oar boat", complained Supervisor Morozov in one of his reports to the board. Later the lighthouse was equipped with a kerosene-powered generator, and then eventually a road was built.


Bryusa Lighthouse

In 1925 the lighthouse was tended by several families. According to census data there were 13 people, 9 men and 4 women, at the lighthouse. The crew of the lighthouse managed their own economy. The lighthouse was located to the territory of the Slavraysel Soviet and the life of the people on Cape Bryusa was tightly connected with the life of that settlement.

In the documents of the main administration of navigation and oceanography the lighthouse on Cape Bryusa is described as a "white octahedral stone tower with white building." In the daytime the white buildings are visible from the sea at a great distance. The Bryusa lighthouse stands high on the cape, opened to all winds.

In 1935 the fourth lighthouse was built on the southeastern shore of Ostrova Krolichiy [Rabbit Island]. A metallic daymark was established at first here. In 1935 a fog bell was installed on a wooden pedestal. The fourth lighthouse thus appeared in the region. In 1941 the state repaired the lighthouses of Capes Gamow, Nazimov and Bryusa, and in the 1950s the lighthouse on Ostrova Krolichiy. In 1952, instead of the metallic daymark the current white square stone tower in the form of a truncated pyramid was built. In 1958, the wooden pedestal of the bell was replaced by a metallic structure of U-shaped form and relocated to a new place.

Return to the Vladivostok Area page | Return to the Lighthouse Directory index

Posted May 16, 2006. Checked and revised January 27, 2014. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.