Lighthouses of Russia: Lake Baikal
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
Transport division of the Maritime Board.
- General Sources
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 by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
- Russia: Lake Baikal
- Historic postcard images posted by Michel Forand.
- World of Lighthouses - Russian Inland Waterways
- Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
- 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, 2007
photo by Oleg Kocheshkov
- * 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 trains of the Trans-Siberian Railway 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 the southwestern end of the lake. Site open, tower closed.
- * Tankhoyskiy
- Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) hexagonal tower; only
the iron skeleton of the tower remains. I. Fefelov has a closeup photo,
but the ruin has not been found in Google's 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 1900?). 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 Google has a satellite view. Forand has a postcard view from around 1920 showing
the lighthouse with its lantern. The lighthouse is very similar to the
Port Baikal light. A Russian history of the area (no longer online) had a photo and dated 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.
- * Turka
- 2014. Active; focal plane about 26 m (85 ft); red light. Approx. 23 m (75 ft) cylindrical tower with lantern and double gallery. The lighthouse is dark gray with white trim and a red conical roof on the lantern. Vyacheslav Bazarov has a good photo, another photo is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. This lighthouse was built as part of a resort development. Located on the north breakwater at a river entrance in Turka, a town on the central east coast of the lake. Site open, tower status unknown.
Mysovsk Light, Babushkin, July 2008
Panoramio photo by Anna Pavlovna; permission requested
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 northwest side of the lake. Site open, tower closed.
- 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 January 27, 2015.
Lighthouses: 10. Site copyright 2015 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.