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Semyonov-Tien-Shansky P.P.

Semyonov-Tien-Shansky P.P. Pyotr Petrovich Semyonov-Tien-Shansky (1827-1914), scientist and geographer

Pyotr Petrovich Semyonov, a famous geographer and statistician, who opened the Tien Shan uplands and therefore since 1906 had the surname Semyonov-Tien-Shansky, chaired the Russian Geographical society for a number of decades. Future scientist was born in a country farm of Ryazan guberniya on January 14, 1827.

In 1848 Pyotr Petrovich Semyonov graduated from the department of natural sciences in the St. Petersburg University and decided to dedicate himself to Russian science. He is known as botanist, geologist, zoologist as well as economist, statistician and painting expert.

In 1856 P.P.Semyonov set forth on his first expedition to Tien Shan. The route laid through the territory which formed sort of trapezium with the apices in Zmeinogorsk - Ust Kamenogorsk – Ridder - Semipalatinsk. The explorer spent 40 days in the valleys and mountains of Altai. He visited all the mines of Zmeinogorsk group and those that were situated along the Ulba and Uba rivers.

The most interesting trip was the trip to river-valleys of Uba and Ulba. In his diaries Semyonov-Tien-Shansky described the beauty and rich nature of the places of expedition: from the village of Shemonaikha situated on the right bank of Uba where the river moves out of the valley to the steppe, to Vydrikha and Lossikha. The scientist visited the village of Sekissovka wondering about the way of life of Cossacks and Old Believer settlers which is clear from the notes of the journey. Having visited Bobrovka and Cheremshanka, the explorer stopped by “a large village Butachikha which is situated in the valley nearby the place where Ulba is formed from the junction of its branches”. The explorer was very impressed by one of the branches: “the most interesting of them is a loud, fast and foamy mountain stream which originates from the snows of Ulbinskiye Whites (belki) and is named by locals as Gromatukha”.

When the members of the expedition arrived in Ridder they stayed at the house of a hospitable educated mining engineer of the Ridder mine. Next day they, together with a forester Kopteyev, they made an attempt to climb Ivanovsky White (belok). “Vast area which forms the top, - Semyonov-Tien-Shansky wrote – is composed of many plane granite rocks. The view from the edge of this area was extremely extensive and magnificent. At the back the Gromatukha water-gap is capped by the chain of hills Ulbinskiye Whites, and Prokhodnoi and Rassypnoi hills are the most prominent among them. At the front the Turgussunskiye Whites are seen, and on the left, across the Ridder valley there is Ridderskaya Sinyukha and Ubinskiye Whites”.

The explorer left Ridder on July 27, 1856. He described the further way to his dream - Tien Shan – in the book “Travels to Tian-Shan”.

P.P. Semyonov-Tien-Shansky lived a long and nice life full of work and creativite quest. His scientific and social activity was highly appreciated by the contemporaries. The geographer was an honorary member of 53 Russian and foreign organizations, a full-fledged member of 12 and a corresponding member of 8 scientific, mostly foreign, associations.

He died on February 26, 1914.