. Lake Baikal is the world's largest freshwater lake. Its steep granite shoreline was a major obstacle to the Trans-Siberian Railway, with the Circum-Bailkal route not finished until 1905, four years after the completion of the rest of the route. From 1901 until the completion of this branch, the Lake Baikal gap was filled by ferries. In 1904, during the Russo-Janpanese war, tracks were placed on the frozen lake to rush troupes to the front. This met with disaster when the first train broke through the ice leaving at 12 mile hole in the ice, and sending all aboard to their deaths.


We left the modern route and transferred to a diesel locomotive to travel what is now a branch line to Port Baikal. It was a fantastic trip as we wound our way through tunnels and round cliffs along the shoreline. Speeds are restricted to no more than 25 mph, so we were able to take turns riding on the locomotive. We stopped at one of the bays and enjoyed a barbecue at the water’s edge. I took a quick dip in the lake, which according to legend added 25 years to my life expectancy.

Dorothy, my neighbor from Car 8, and I drink a toast during our barbecue