Trans-Siberian ‘Landscapes of Transportation’ through the Lens of Travel Guidebooks in Late Imperial Russia
The formation of the travel and tourism industry in the Russian Empire was a prolonged process. Along with the development of a vast transportation network, the spread of rail services and the introduction of new railway tariffs in 1894, the number of travellers in the Russian Empire increased by the beginning of the twentieth century. All those people required reliable information, instructions and advice on how to organise and complete their journeys, which they increasingly found in tourist guidebooks. Guidebook authors and publishers helped them master the fears arising from the uncertainties of travel. Being a highly contested rhetorical resource, authors, compilers and publishers of guidebooks debated, negotiated and constantly changed the Trans-Siberian ‘landscapes of transportation’. By analysing travel guides on Siberia as complex artefacts and focusing on the transportation landscapes as a historical phenomenon, we hope to shed more light on the complex intersections of mobility, transport technologies and environment in the Russian Empire at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. We argue that in the process of (re)making railway landscapes—which we consider as a material stage on which actions took place—perception of these landscapes was shaped by the natural environment in the process of its transformation, by transportation technologies and infrastructure, by services and conveniences, comfort and safety.