The history of the street began long before 1922. An entire museum is dedicated to it in Biysk, which is located on a historic site at the beginning of this street – on Sovetskaya Street.
This building is an architectural monument; at the beginning of the 20th century it was a residential commercial house. Museum researcher Tatiana Porubova is accustomed to visitors – there are always plenty of visitors here.
“Whoever was here – and Garik Sukachev and Dmitry Krylov … People are very interested in our exhibits,” says the guide, and leads to the museum’s first room, where ancient archeological finds are presented – animal bones, canvases with petroglyphs.
It is no accident here, because Chuya Street was born as the oldest route in Eurasia in the third millennium BC. According to Chinese sources, the path that led from China through the Altai Mountains to Central Asia was called the trade route to the Scythian tribes.
It is believed that this road was one of the northern branches of the Great Silk Road and that is why archaeologists found silk fabrics and bronze mirrors here.
“Where Chuysky Street is now, the ancient paths that connected Siberia to Central Asia have always run, so we present a paleontological collection. Caravan routes have been carved along the Katun and Chuya River valleys. Finds were made in the area of modern Biy indicating that the caravan routes crossed here.
The fact that the ancient path at the junction of Biya and Katun “led to the Chinese kingdom” was known during the development of the territory of modern Siberia. The main trade took place in the valley of the river Chuya and the merchants who went there for trade were called Chui. “It was the nickname ‘Chuya’ that gave this street its name,” says Tatyana Alexandrovna.
From footprint to wheel
Until 1903, the current route was a herd trail running through river valleys. He carried sugar and cloth with horses and camels to the Qurai and Chui steppes, where Kazakhs and Mongols roamed and Chinese troops stood on the border. They could sell their goods in exchange for camel hair or spices.
However, this method of profit was not safe: traders were prevented by rocky outcrops that could not be bypassed, bombs (narrow places between river and mountain). This is why traders have repeatedly asked for the Chui pack path to be fixed. They were only heard in 1901 – the road began to be built under the track so that the carts could be driven along their entire length. By the way, the museum also shows the wheels of real Chinese carts that later traveled on these paths.
Construction was commissioned by mining engineer Iosif Bil: he was given a significant amount of money to blow up complex mountain sections and install supports in dangerous places. Until 1903, freight wagons could pass along the trail. However, the road soon broke down again.
Meanwhile, competition in trade from China on the border with Mongolia was only growing and we had to try to get back to the roadmap plans – already at a higher level. For this, road engineer Vyacheslav Shishkov led a mission to Altai. His maps, made as a result of research into the construction of Chuisky Street, became the first exhibits of the modern street museum in Biysk.
“The mission led by Siskov worked in Altai for two years, in 1913 and 1914, under his leadership maps were drawn, which examined different options for the transmission of the route. We keep 16 original maps in the museum, another 50 maps are kept in Barnaul. However, the plans failed to materialize – after Shishkov’s return from Altai, war broke out and work went to the back. We keep the devices given to us by the locals, this is level and level. “With the help of such devices, Shishkov conducted research here, with their help our Chuisky street was built”, says the driver and accompanies him to the construction department.
The historic event celebrated this year by the Chuisky tract was preceded by the signing of a friendship agreement between Mongolia and the Soviet Union. According to Porubova, it was the friendship between the countries and, therefore, the prospect of building trade relations that brought the authorities back to the issue of the need to improve the road.
Already in May of the following year, the road is said to have received the status of a state road. The museum found no confirmation that the decision was made in May, but the year left no doubt – the Moscow archives sent documents to the Altai indicating that the decision was made on December 6, 1922.
He was highly anticipated in Siberia and was counting on funding.
Work in some areas began and was abandoned due to construction difficulties in mountainous areas, but in 1925 the first wool escort could already pass along the road.
Large-scale work here began only in 1934. The road was built by civilians and camp prisoners – as evidenced by dugouts dug along the Katun coast.
“We believe that the prisoners who built the road lived there. The construction was complex, heavy, manual labor was used, local materials – crushed stone, stone, wood. “Ropes for bridges were twisted right on the Katun ice, retaining walls were raised with the help of moss and manure,” says the driver. On January 1, 1935, the orbit became known as the Freeway.
In archival documents from the end of 1925, the word “repairman” begins to appear occasionally. That was the name of the people who repaired Chuisky Street. They lived in houses along the street. Surprisingly, the repairers were mostly women. With a shovel, they dug pits, hollowing out the ice in sections of the road. Women came this way as guides as well. An entire section of motorcycles is dedicated to them at the Biysk Museum.
“There is a road along the Chuisky route, many drivers drove there …”
The museum does not want to talk about the famous song based on the lyrics of author Mikhail Mikheev, although there is information about his hero, guide Kolka Stigirev, and his love story for his colleague Raya. The heroes had real originals, the working conditions of which were not composed by the songs. A special exhibition talks about the first girls-drivers who came to conquer Chuisky Street. He worked in a company that transported goods to Mongolia.
“In those years, the driving profession was very prestigious, but on Chuisky Street it was extremely difficult. The profession was rare and its popularity was dictated by a wave of Komsomol enthusiasm. It was very difficult for the girls – after all, the cars were huge, the brakes were inadequately controlled, the cabins were not heated. In the museum we can see Soviet-era driver suits, authentic photos from car races, in which drivers stand in warm fur coats – so they escaped the cold in the cabs of cars. A unique exhibit are the driver’s boots made of car tubes. “Biysk at that time, of course, was a city of drivers,” says the driver.
In the museum you can see not only many exhibits related to the history of the appearance of the trail, which has evolved into the largest international highway, but also landscape models of the historic Chui Road. Some models were taken to the museum by the road department, others were handed over by locals who make independent models of their favorite street.
In the museum, the love for Chuisky Street is explained by the uniqueness of its natural landscapes – travelers along its entire length are in different natural zones.
The road, formerly from Biysk and now Novosibirsk, starts with birch pegs, forest-steppe, passes through pine forest, cedar forests and sometimes even subalpine meadows. From the Kurai Basin, the traveler opens the North Chuya squirrels – high mountain ranges covered with snow. Waterfalls are visible in some parts of the road. These views are breathtaking and give aesthetic pleasure to even the most sophisticated travelers. At the museum, a separate room with mineralogical and zoological collections is dedicated to natural resources along the Chuisky Street route. Here, street columns separate natural areas where you can meet a variety of animals – from hares to ibex and bears.
For its vast history, measured by caravans and landmarks, Chuisky Street has changed beyond recognition – its length has increased from 600 to more than 1000 km, the zero kilometer has been moved from Biysk to Novosibirsk and now only one symbolic sign in front of the museum reminds it, and the Biysk itself from -for the construction of the bypass is no longer part of the route. It is now a modern road, in which billions are invested annually. It is still in demand and intensively loaded – up to 43,000 cars pass here every day.
Authorities plan to develop the federal highway as a caravan and caravan route (traveling by motorhome or caravan). In the museum, which was created by the head of DSU-10 Yuri Nikishin based on archival documents, good deeds are called the best congratulations on the anniversary year. Thus, museum workers are worried about the fate of the ZIL-130 monument – a truck that traveled 1 million km along the highway without major repairs. The car is located on the Biysk River side as a monument. It is proposed to be painted in the anniversary year.