Railways were important in the early 1900s because of its extensive use in transporting various minerals, especially nickel in this photograph, along with transporting passengers across vast distances. In this picture, Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii (right) had taken a picture with two pioneers that are in Cossack dress (left) which was taken in 1915. Prokudin-Gorskii had taken a tour of Russia (sponsored by Tsar Nicholas II) from 1905-1915 by using the railways where he took many of his pictures that had documented the culture and landscape surrounding the railways. This particular picture was taken near the Murmansk-Nikel Railway that was responsible for transporting nickel from a mine in Nikel (the Russians were original in their naming) to the port in Murmansk. Murmansk is located in the northern portion of Russia that is above the Arctic Circle on the Kola Peninsula.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
So far this railroad is still in production in Russia, transporting nickel and cargo between the two cities. However, Norweigian transportation groups such as the Kirkenes World Port Group wanted to link the railway to the Kirkenes–Bjørnevatn Line in order to reduce the congestion at the port in Murmansk.
Before railroads were considered a means of transportation, river ways and roads were used as the main transportation in Russia. Roads were useful during the Spring and Fall seasons but during the summer, roads were muddy and during the winter, roads were covered in feet of snow. River ways, especially the canal systems that were built in 1709 and under the reign of Peter the Great, were used to transport goods from the Baltic Sea to St. Petersburg. These river ways gave boats access to the interior which increased the trade routes to and from Europe and the Mediterranean. However, the problems with the river ways were they could only be used from four to six months out of the year because of freezing and some river ways (such as the rivers around Moscow) were too shallow for barges to travel through during the summer. The solution to these problems? Trans-national railroads.
Despite all of the problems dealing with these means of transportation, railways were not accepted by Russian nobility. Railways were only considered to transport ore and minerals throughout Russia; however, the first extensive railroad system finished construction on October 30, 1837 where it transported passengers as well. Railroads made the industrial growth of Russia in the pre-revolution era possible and is still in great use in modern day Russia.
Westwood, J. N. (1964). A History of Russian Railways. London: George Allen and Unwin LTD.