Barge haulers were called hired workers who, with the help of a string, pulled river vessels against the current. The work was hard, but it made it possible for a huge number of people to earn money during the season. The city of Rybinsk was called the capital of the bourgeoisie. It is not surprising that it was here, in 1977, that the first monument to a barge haule was erected in our country. For a long time he was also the only one. In 2014, the sculptural composition "Barge Haulers on the Volga" appeared in Samara.
The most experienced and strong person in the artel of barge haulers was called "bump". It was he who kept order, set the pace of movement. This is where the expression "big shot" came from - that is, a noble, respected person.
Burlakov was also called "bastard", and there was nothing offensive in this. The word "bastard" comes from "drag". Suffice it to recall that there are ancient cities in Russia - Vyshny Volochek and Volok-na-Lama (Volokolamsk). During the summer shallow water, the ships could not pass along the local rivers, the goods had to be transported by "dragging" for several miles. For this, artels of barge haulers were hired.
But this word could become offensive due to the fact that people who did not own any other craft were going to be hired for the "portage". But they were famous for their enormous physical strength and often organized pogroms in drinking establishments. Therefore, the attitude of the local population was appropriate.
The power of some barge haulers was legendary throughout Russia. Nikitushka Lomov, a native of the Penza province, was especially famous. Once on the Volga, he saw a band of men who were trying to pull a 25-pound anchor out of the coastal sand. They were hired by a local merchant, promising 3 rubles for their work. What the whole company did not succeed in was easily done by Nikitushka - he swung the anchor and turned it out of the sand. But, the merchant said that he did not hire Lomov, and paid only a ruble for the work. The strongman decided to teach the curmudgeon a lesson: he took the anchor to the merchant's house and hung it on the gate. To return the anchor to the pier, the merchant hired an artel again. Only I had to pay a lot more.
One of the most popular songs among the barge haulers was the famous one: "Eh, club, uhnem." Moreover, the barge haulers sang her not for fun, she helped the artel to maintain the pace of movement.
Ilya Repin worked on his famous painting "Barge Haulers on the Volga" for three years - from 1870 to 1873. Moreover, for the first time Repin saw the barge haulers not on the Volga, but on the Neva.
Having become interested in this topic, the artist went to the village of Shiryaevo on the Volga, where he met the barge haulers personally. True, the picture did not delight all admirers of Repin's talent. For example, the Minister of Railways Zelena reproached the painter for depicting an antediluvian method of transporting ships, which almost completely disappeared.
But the famous Russian writer and journalist Vladimir Gilyarovsky had a chance to personally pull the barge strap. In his youth, with one of the artels, he went from Kostroma to Rybinsk. He was a physically very strong man, but once an embarrassment happened to him: Gilyarovsky visited his elderly father, and, deciding to show off his strength, bent an iron poker with an arc. The father, who was already over 70 years old, scolded his son for spoiling things in the house and straightened the poker back.
In 1929, the People's Commissariat of Railways of the USSR officially banned burlak labor. But, by that time, there were practically no barge haulers, with the advent of steamships this profession became a thing of the past.