Lighthouses of Russia: Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal is located in southern Siberia, east of the city of Irkutsk, on the border between Irkutsk Oblast (province) and the Buryat Republic, two units of the Russian Federation. The crescent-shaped lake occupies a deep rift valley and is the world's deepest lake, reaching a depth of 1637 m (5370 ft). Its name, baikal, means "rich" or "abundant" in the Mongol language. Although it is completely surrounded by mountains, the lake drains by the Angara River through a narrow water gap near its southwestern end. Lake Baikal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.

There has been commercial navigation on the lake since the late nineteenth century, and travel in the area is generally by water since roads are scarce. However, sources of information on the lake's lighthouses are scarce and not much is known of their history. Visitor reports and photos would be very welcome.

Special thanks to Michel Forand for his research, which produced most of the information presented here.

The Russian word for a lighthouse is mayak (маяк); mys is a cape and ostrov is an island. Aids to navigation on Russian inland waterways are presumably maintained by the River Transport division of the Maritime Board.

General Sources
Magic Baikal - Lighthouses and Hydrology
This account, in Russian, includes a list of 10 lake lighthouses in its second paragraph. The same source has descriptions of the lighthouses, but no photos.
Lighthouses in Russia
Photos available from Wikimedia.
Lighthouses of Other Regions
Historic postcard images posted by Michel Forand.
Russische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Karte Baikal
Wikipedia's best map of the lake.

Port Baikal Light
Port Baikal Light, Port Baikal, 2007
Angara.net photo by Oleg Kocheshkov

Lighthouses
* Port Baikal
Date unknown (around 1895?). Inactive. Approx. 6 m (20 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern red. This lighthouse was abandoned and rusting in 2004, when Alexander Knyazev took a photo (halfway down the page). By 2007, as seen in Oleg Kocheshkov's photo above, it had been painted and some sort of communications gear was attached to it. Thomas Claveirole has a closeup, another photo is available, Sylvain Raybaud has a closeup of the lantern, there's a nice summertime view (second photo on the page), Huelse has a historic postcard photo, and Bing has a distant satellite view. This light, the Babushkin Light, and probably the Tankhoyskiy Light were built in the 1890s or around 1900 to guide rail ferries carrying the Trans-Siberian Railroad across the lake. This service ended in 1905, when the rail line was completed around the south shore of the lake. Located on a very steep hillside above Port Baikal, on
* Tankhoyskiy
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) hexagonal tower; only the iron skeleton of the tower remains. A closeup photo is available, but Google has only a very fuzzy satellite view of the area. It is believed that this light also guided rail ferries. Located in Tankhoy, on the south shore of the lake opposite Port Baikal and about 80 km (50 mi) west of Babushkin. Site open, tower closed.
* Babushkin (Mysovsk)
Date unknown (around 1895?). Inactive. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with gallery, mounted on a conical stone foundation. Lantern removed. Anna Pavlovna's photo is at right, a closeup photo is available, and Ildus Shamgunov has a photo and a view from the lake, Wikimedia has a sunset photo, and Bing has a satellite view. (Google has only a fuzzy satellite view of the area.) Forand has a historic postcard view showing the lighthouse with its lantern. The lighthouse is very similar to the Port Baikal light. A Russian history of the area has a photo and dates the lighthouse to 1900. Located on a sandy point at Babushkin (formerly Mysovsk), on the southeast shore of the lake. Site open, tower closed.
* Selenga
Date unknown. Active(?). Approx. 13 m (43 ft) square pyramidal wood skeletal tower; all sides of the tower are covered by a slatted daymark. A distant view is available, but the tower is not seen in Bing's satellite view and Google has only a fuzzy satellite view of the area. Accommodations for birders and eco-tourists are available at this settlement. Located in the Selenga River Delta, on the south side of the river's main channel, about 65 km (40 mi) northeast of Babushkin. Site open, tower status unknown.
Dagarskiy
Date unknown. Active (?). Wood tower mounted on a "log blockhouse." No photo available. Google has a satellite view, but it's not clear where the light is located. Located at the northeastern corner of the lake, on the east side of river entrance. Site status unknown.
Dushkachanskiy
Date unknown. Active (?). No photo and no description of the tower available; Google has only a very distant satellite view of the area. Located at Dushkachan, at town at the north end of the lake. Site status unknown.
Babushkin Light
Mysovsk Light, Babushkin, July 2008
Panoramio photo by Anna Pavlovna; permission requested
Mys Kotel'nikovskiy
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) square pyramidal wood tower, unpainted; the upper portion carries the remains of a slatted daymark. A closeup photo is available, Sergey Bulanov has a view from the lake, and Kamil Otocki has a more distant view, but the tower is not seen in Bing's satellite view. Located on a conspicuous sandy cape on the
Mys Kobylya Golova (Khorin-Irgi) (2)
Date unknown. Active(?). Approx. 10 m (33 ft) square pyramidal wood tower. The Magic Baikal site has a view from the lake, but the small tower is not seen in Bing's satellite view. This light guides vessels in the narrow passage between the western shore of the lake and Ol'khon Island, a large island that parallels the lakeshore for about 80 km (50 mi). Forand has a historic postcard view of the original light. Located on an islet at the point of a very sharp cape at the western end of Ol'khon Island, opposite the town of Sarma. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown.
Mys Krestovyy
Date unknown. Active(?). Approx. 6 m (20 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white. A photo and a second photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a point of land on the west side of the lake southeast of Petrova. Site open, tower closed.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

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Posted June 2, 2009. Checked and revised November 5, 2013. Lighthouses: 9. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.