Cruises along Kama
Word etymology. A question about name origin is still open.
There is one opinions, that the word «Kama» came from ancient
Russia «kama» - what means «a stone». From the ancient times,
the inhabitants of Perm land were proud its «main river», they did homage to
this river, and with care used its resources.
The river Kama, beautiful Kama – is the main and big river in the West of
Ural, it is the largest tributary of the Volga, the symbol of Perm region.
Catchment area of this mighty river exceeds area of any European state, with the
exception of France. Its banks are unique beauty, it is considered as transport
artery. Travel along this river is a pleasure not only for adults, but also for
Length of the Kama is 1805 km. In Europe it takes seven place by length,
cedes to the Volga, Danube, Dnieper, Pechora, Ural. Not far from Udmurt's
village «Karpushata» is situated the Kama's head on the upland.
The Kama has two heads: The Kama has two sources: the Kama spring, flowing out
with several streams under the mountain, and the Bistrushka river, beginning in
the fields behind the Karpushati. In 300 m from the mouths they flow
The nature of the Kama basin is various. Here there are slopes of the Ural
ridge and ancient plateaus and low plains. Coniferous forests, resembling
Siberian taiga, surround the banks of the Kama in its head; oak-woods and rich
verdure of lime reflect in the low stream in its waters. When you sail by motor
ship, at first sight there is nothing notable around at first sight. The banks
on the Kama branch are low, lacking of bright colors. Shoals, monotonous meadows
with bushes stretch. Navigable channel is winding and Lobatch Mountain shows
blue from behind and from sides.
The first height, elevated above the water-meadow from the left, is occupied
by working settlement Laishev. It was built in the place of a Russian
fortification, which existed in 16 century; both the river and the water-meadow
before it were seen from its walls. Up to 500 barges, loaded with metal, gather
to the “iron fair” at this meadow, in 2 km from the city, in
the place where there is a landing-stage (a wharfboat). From the river
Chistopol is seen well after the vessel, continuing its way,
sails to the middle of the Kama. Quay buildings, landing-stages, gardens, a
silhouette of a minaret, stone houses of the central part and, at last, a
settlement of river transport workers near a shipyard in the outskirts – all
this sail by us and will be seen above the bottom land meadow or a long
Behind Chistopol the Kama not at once gets look, which gains
the fame of one of the most beautiful rivers of the country for it. However
changes are already seen for passengers. The right bank shot up by abrupt slope.
A secular pinery makes a noise. Under the steep slope in the shadow the water
plays with the color of blue steel and this unusual color is emphasized even
greater with light yellowness of sand shoals.
The Vyatka – is the most length from the rights tributary of
the Kama, connected some districts of Kirov region, Udmurtia
and Tatarstan. The length of the Vyatka is 1367 km. It would seen, that
crossing the are, abounding in precipitations, this river should be
especially deep and convenient for navigation. But any captain will tell you
that on his native land one rift falls at every three km. It is explained by the
fact that the Vyatka flows in the valley, formed of easily eroded sands, which
the water brings from one place to the other. Though navigation workers labour
much and hard, navigation depends also on the weather. In spring motor ships can
rise up by the river almost for 900 km. In a summer of a dry year the reach of
the river, accessible for passenger motor ships, reduce three times. On the
right bank of the Kama, at a distance of 210 km from the city Kazan, is placed a
The river Belaya flows into the Kama between two banks of
among the low banks of the water-meadow and perhaps the mouth of the confluent
would be hardly seen but for the color of the water. Here difference in color is
especially sharp and perceptible. Waters of the Belaya river cut into the Kama’s
ones and press them with their wide stream, above which sea-gulls fly round.
Length of the Belaya, the main confluent of the Kama, is 1420 km. Beginning in
the mountains of the Southern Ural, the Belaya is directed then at the plains of
Bashkiria, connecting a number of cities of this autonomous republic and its
center – Ufa – with the Kama. Actually in the basin of the Belaya there is
almost the whole flat part of Bashkiria. Much timber, bread, oil are transported
by the river.
The ship sails under the bridge of the Kazan railway – and almost at once we
notice far Sarapul. At first the low island closes a part of the city, situated
in the lowland. But the island ends and the whole Sarapul is seen. It is one of
the cities of the Kama, which are situated in the most attractive place.
Buildings, occupying the slopes of the valley of the Sarapulka river, crossing
the city, appear white against a background of the green thick coniferous
forest. The central part of Sarapula is built up with stone houses, among which
buildings of city soviet and vocational school, directed to us with their
facades, are especially stand out. A mountain with steep slopes, ending with
sharply outlined cape, reigns over all these. Sarapul was founded at the end of
XVI century. The part of the city, situated near the river, has kept lines of
far past to the utmost.
Here you may see the rests of old town, old cloister walls. Besides, the name
later was meant «yellow fish», such as sterlet, which
were found here in abundance. While walking about the city pay your attention on
the wooden carved elbow linings, gates and even walls of the houses: Sarapul
skilled craftsmen were famous for fretworks.
After two hours, the ship finishes its rout near Molotov river – boat
station, but closeness of the town is naturally felt.
Here from the left there is a river-boat station Zakamsk. It is already Kirov
area of Molotov, located on the other side of the river. The pinery stretches
far along the steep bank. But look narrowly: pine-trees were left only at the
very bank and farther, deep down, all is occupied with blocks of flats,
departments of plants. In some places pine-trees are thicker, either houses of
dacha type or light constructions of pioneer camps. Right now spans of a railway
bridge, which was built more than fifty years ago, stand out distinctly above
the Kama. Both before it and right behind it the bank from the right from us is
occupied with berths of industrial plants. Smoke of factory chimneys float above
the river. An elevator rises as a rock. Cranes are seen again – it is one of the
sections of an old Molotov port. In this area there are many other plain houses
and warehouses, which were built by Kama motor ship workers. Molotov berths of
internal traffic began. A tower of the picture gallery and a high building with
columns – a department of Molotovles company, standing at the very edge of the
slope, - are seen. City Molotov, the largest industrial and cultural center of
the territory near the Kama, is much younger than many Ural cities. It is truth
that a settlement of Egoshikhinsky copper-smelting plant was situated in its
place in the time of Peter. But the history of Perm itself begins with 1781 when
by order of Catherine II under ringing of bells and cannonade the settlement was
renamed into principle town of province.
Lock world of the Kama
The vessel sails to the lock. It doesn’t resemble any of constructions, which
are met on the way from the capital. The fact is that the Kama is the first
locked river with huge floats of timber in the country. The lock of a usual
construction would never have passed during navigation those 10-12 million cubic
meters, which sail through a “staircase” of the Kama waterworks facility. The
right down-current or, so called, Western “string” is meant only for launching
rafts; the eastern, or the left one, passes both vessels and rafts according to
necessity. All constructions of the lock stretch for 2.5 km. our vessel is
directed to the left “string”. The vessel passes the first, the second, the
third, the forth cameras…
If we voyage before the second camera of the
Kamera reservoir is filled, then behind the forth camera to the very way out of
the reservoir we will meet no locked gates any more. It seems as if last two
cameras are temporarily turned into a channel; their gates will be needed only
after the water in the sea rises to the target horizon.
The Kama reservoir
A lighthouse on the dam near the lock is seen already. The vessel is
gathering way. Inhabitants of the territory near the Kama lovingly call the Kama
reservoir Kama lake. The whole area of the Kama sea is estimated in imposing
figure: 200,000 ha. Flood of the sea made 270 settlements change their places
fully or partially. Maximal depth of the reservoir (in the part, situated near
the dam) makes up 30 m. In the navigation period fluctuations of the water level
reach 1.5-2 m; in winter, when water entry into the reservoir reduces, fall of
the levels can be 7-8 m. The Kama reservoir was filled in 1954 after completion
of construction of the dam, partitioned off the valley of the Kama within the
precincts of Perm.
At the distance above the forest light train of smokes flutters. With
approaching to it becomes imposing, occupying already a part of the horizon. If
the vessel is approaching to it in the evening, a fantastic picture appears many
kilometers from it. The huge plant bulks of unusual form are illuminated with
many lights. They stretch, casting smokes of various tints out of their
chimneys: orange-yellow, ash-grey, white. Characteristic smell penetrates into
the cabins. Whistles of railway engines, hissing of steam are heard. Streams of
hot water flow into the Kama with noise; not by chance the river doesn’t freeze
here at all, and lower Berezniki, quite to Orel, these waters hasten drifting of
ice and slow down freezing-over even in very severe winters.
Berezniki were conceived and built as a city-garden. Light
houses of lime-sand brick were erected along asphalted highways, edged with a
belt of parks, lawns and flower gardens. A part of the street is turned into a
boulevard. Much green is especially in the place where Pyatiletka street crosses
Stalin avenue. A city park, which citizens of Berezniki are proud of, - is one
of the largest on the territory near the Kama. Citizens of Berezniki create yet
a number of parks, justifying the reputation of its city as one of the greenest
area in the moderate climate of the Russian Federation.
Our voyage comes to an end and we have only some time to say few words about
the upper Kama. First of all about the famous Kerchevsky road, the largest
booming ground in the world. At Kerchev the Kama is partitioned off by booms of
tablet-logs, tied together by steel ropes. It is the main boom of the road,
capable to keep back a pressure of more than 100,000 cubic meters of timber,
floated from the head.
Upper Kercheva the Kama crosses forest areas, where there is
no city, there are few settlements, but there are many settlements of timber
cutters. In early spring before the boom in Kerchevo closes, motor ships in the
head are directed to settlement Monastir. It is not far from the places where
within the bounds of Kirov region the Kama winds as a narrow blue ribbon,
accessible only for cutters.