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Sapozhnikov V. V.

Sapozhnikov V.V. Vassiliy Vassilyevich Sapozhnikov (1861 - 1924), the Altai researcher

“Tourist will find a rich source of aesthetic delight in Altai, in its combination of dark forests and foamy rivers, dazzlingly white peaks and bright flowery mountain meadows and above all this beauty there is deep blue sky”, - these are the words of Vassiliy Vassilyevich Sapozhnikov that he wrote about Altai in 1912.

V.V. Sapozhnikov devoted his entire life to the science. He was a great scientist, traveler and professor of Tomsk University.
More than twenty summer seasons V.V. Sapozhnikov spent in his expeditions. The length of his travel routes exceeds the length of the Earth circumference; he traveled to Altai, Tarbagatai, Tien Shan, Zhungarskoe Alatay and other places of Kazakhstan and Siberia. But his favourite travel detination was Altai. He made more than a half of his expeditions to Altai.

His first expedition to Altai was in 1895. He researched Katunsky and Berelsky glaciers, went to Rakhmanovsky springs and reached Berel village. Sapozhnikov described his travel in the book “On Altai”. The next result of his journey to Altai in 1911 was the travelling guidebook published in Tomsk that was called “Roads of Russian Altai”. In this guidebook he gave the main descriptions of mountains, rivers, flora and fauna of Altai. V. Sapozhnikov recommended 57 routes for tourists and 13 of them were to East Kazakhstan. “If you are just a tourist on Altai – it is too luxurious for a tourist and not enough for Altai”, - said V.V. Sapozhnikov. – “This mountain land is not explored in details even in the nearest area and any traveler, even if he has no special qualities, can bring with him from Altai some new information about people’s mode of life, about the quality of roads etc. That’s why, when I was writing this book, I thought that it would be very useful both for scientists and for tourists, it would give both of them the navigation information and give them the material for observation”. And this book was really useful for the people, who were travelling to Altai.

Team-mates and pupils of V.V. Sapozhnikov noted that Vassiliy Vassilyevich was not just a theoretical scientist. His character led him to the other people, he liked public works and he thought that it was a duty of any person. Sapozhnikov was one of the best lecturers and voluntary group activists; he was always reading some lectures and made reports both at congresses and during his travels to Siberia, Altai, Kazakhstan. He read his brilliant lectures in Moscow, Tomsk, Barnaul, Omsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk (Novo-Nickolaevsk), Verniy, Semipalatinsk and in other cities of Russia. Every time, when he came to Kazakhstan’s Priirtyshie, he usually read his lectures.

V.V. Sapozhnikov left huge scientific, epistolary, cartographic and photographic heritage. He wrote a hundred of scientific works that were published by different publishing house.

Many of his students, participants of his expeditions became great scientists. B.K. Shishkin, the researcher of plants of Zayssansky uyezd, afterwards was the head of Botanic Institute of the USSR.

A.P. Velizhanin was the head of Altai department of Russian Geographic Society in Barnaul.

The participant of three expeditions of Sapozhnikov – V.A. Obruchev followed his calling even after death of his teacher. He made a lot of expeditions and wrote considerable works on geography. In 1949 he was a scientific editor of Sapozhnikov’s book “On Russian and Mongolian Altai” republication that became a rarity to that time.

The follower of father’s work was his daughter N.N. Sapozhnikova. She visited Altai and Tien Shan twice in 1925-1926, systematized works of her father and participated in republishing of his books.

Vassiliy Vassilyevich was a tireless researcher of Altai. Dreams of Sapozhnikov that Altai will be a place of active recreation and esthetic pleasure have now come true.