Balakhna - a city more than once in its history change their economic face. Balakhna' land located in the middle Volga route between Gorodtsov and Nizhny Novgorod, where there was abundance of forests, and intensive development of crafts, produce goods that must be transported in large lots, became the center of the wooden shipbuilding. The position of the city the path of the forest along the Volga River is largely favored the development of Balakhna wooden shipbuilding.
Once no longer be profitable salt production, shipbuilding began to play most prominent and important role in the industrial life of Balakhna.
Numerous types of ships on the Volga River is known in the XII century: kerbat, pavoska, boat, wuchang, strug and many others. Strug' were being built here - a small flat-bottomed vessels, had "substantial capacity plane and one mast, one sail, which sailed when the wind blew the stern, when the wind is contrary, then floated on a 16-oars." Plows had a length of 20 to 45 meters and a width of 4 to 10 meters and used mainly on rivers and lakes.
Construction of a wooden navy in Balakhna especially intensively developed in the middle of the XVI century, after Ivan IV the Terrible in October 1552 conquered Kazan, and in 1554-1556 years subjugated Astrakhan Khanate. In 1634-1636 years. Balakhna masters shipbuilders built the ship "Friedrich", the first Russian ship. In Moscow, arrived Dutch Ambassador Otto Bryugman to create a trading company. In December 1634 Otto Bryugman on behalf of Frederick I «perpetrate trade agreement" with the Moscow boyars of early 10-year-old Dutch trade with Persia. Volga and the Caspian Sea was the most convenient, cheap and short route for trade with Persia.
The ship "Frederick" was built by skilled craftsmen Balakhna in the short term. The length of the ship was 36.5 meters, width - 12 meters, draft - 2 meters. The three mast sailing ship gave a good move. In the case of the absence of wind were adjusted 24 oars. In case of attack the ship was armed with guns. In the holds of ships were built sections, which could accommodate the team and the officials of the embassy. In other compartments stored food, water, and the nucleus for the guns.
In July 1636, "Friedrich" under the Dutch flag raised the sails and weighed anchor. On the "Frederick" were 38 foreigners of different ranks, 12 officers and sailors, 30 Scots, who were on the Russian military, six Russian carpenters. In total 86 people.
In September 1636 the ship arrived safely in Astrakhan. Located in Astrakhan, Persian, Indian, Arab merchants, as well as residents of the city were delighted with the fantastic handsome ship. Rumors about the amazing ship reached the Shah of Persia before the Dutch embassy arrived in Persia. The ship "Frederick" was the Volga, abounding in shoals, and much later sank in the Caspian Sea.
During the reign of Peter I, starting in 1695, Balakhna become one of the centers of the construction of sailing warships to the Sea of Azov campaign. The decree on the construction of the fleet was published in January 1696. Construction of the vessels had been deployed on numerous shipyards Balakhna County of Katunki up Kerzhenets up along the left bank and in the Balakhna. Shipyards in Balakhna were mostly located in Kubentsevo, as well as between the village of the Kuznetsk and the grove Paracha.
While in 1695 in Nizhny Novgorod, Petr I established the shipyard for the construction of a "new style" of ships. The king gave the design of a new type high-speed vessel, calling him a "Raice-Schiff." These words in the mouths of boatmen turned the word "Ras'shiva". Pine forests gave an excellent material for building ships.
At Balakhna rope worked a lot of genuine masters aimed here to study the construction of military ships sailing. To teach Balakhna carpenters to build new ships were sent to the master-foreigners.
Legend has it that along with his associate Alexander Menshikov, "with an ax in his hand," worked at the shipyard Balakhna himself Tsar Peter I the Great.
Balakhna famed for its ras'shivs, and Belyana's, and the barge's. Ras'shiva were called sailing vessels under 16 meters in length, rises to 20,000 pouds of cargo. At the stern they had "kazenka" - room for cargo. "Kazenka" elegant house was made with the curved roof, with carvings on the walls and shutters. Borders cut on the top side, richly decorated forage vessel. The top of a tall tower adorned with a huge carved sun with a human face. Sails and flags of ships were decked picturesque scenes painted on the sea myths.
Subsequent years showed persistence of the shipbuilding business for Balakhna shipyards. Balakhna coming to an end the first quarter of XVIII century. could rightly be called the capital wooden shipbuilding of the Volga.
From the middle of the XVIII century is preserved galley "Tver", decorated with carved ship, on which Catherine II in 1767 traveled to the Volga.
August 16th, 1781 at the behest of the Empress Catherine II in Balakhna, as in many other cities, was approved by the emblem of the city. It was designed as a shield in the upper part of which was located in Nizhny Novgorod coat of arms (Noble proudly walking deer horns and hooves are black), and at the bottom - the "two in a silver box, kokoro, meaning a notable production of ships." Kokora (knee) - bracket curved wooden ship kit was used for its manufacture of the lower part of the tree from the root. It symbolized the notable shipbuilding.
The period of greatest prosperity in shipbuilding Balakhna can be considered as the first half of the XIX century. The county at this time built up to 100 barges per year, not counting the other vessels. In the 60's. XIX century Balakhna belongs to one of the first places in the construction barges. At Balakhna shipyard built each year from 100 to 300 barges. On the construction of barges and steamers were employed 3000-5000 workers - skilled carpenters.
Wealthy shipbuilders in Balakhna were Isakov, Plotnikov, Khudyakov, brothers Redozubov, Bednyagin, Polyakov. Extensive experience in building barges of different designs are passed from generation to generation over many generations.
Barges built a 40 sazhen long and 5 sazhen wide, 17 chetvert high, and 12 chetvert up to the waterline. This barge was able to accommodate up to 17,000 pouds of cargo.
Since the beginning of construction of ships with a steam engine Balakhna not lost its importance. The first steam ship "Perm" was launched in the summer of 1845. Next up was built steamship "Kama." In 1850 the company "Mercury" was built two large steam-ship - "Kozma Minin" and "Dmitry Pozharsky."
In 1846 a wealthy businessman came Balakhna Benardaki nobleman, to build a shipyard metal shipbuilding. He appealed to the municipal authorities to allocate land for the shipyard. In 1847 he was allowed to establish a shipyard at an abandoned wasteland near the village Sormovo and Myshyakovka who were on the outskirts of Balakhna County. Benardaki bought stationed there since 1849 repair shops tow winding Volga Shipping Company and converted them into a huge (for that time), a plant with 2,000 workers.
Already in its first year Sormovsky plant launches the first two 60-horsepower tug-boat "Dawn" and "Strela" for the Volga-Kama Shipping Company. Only in the 50s. XIX century. Plant gave the country more than 60 steam-ships. Here were built the first Russian metal barges (1850-1852). Hard work and talent factory workers in 1903 was built the world's first passenger steam-ship. In 1958, the plant "Red Sormovo" was built ship "Balakhna."
But with the advent of steel ships in the production of wooden barges Balakhna lasted only until the beginning of the XX century. The fishery gradually began to fade, and soon ceased to exist.
Marina A. Gryaznova,
research worker "Balakhna Museum Complex of History and Art Complex"
Based on the book, Galina D. Shulyndina "The city unique Balakhna"
This article in Russian: http://balamus.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96:balsud&catid=41:kraa&Itemid=62