Stalin's Rope Roads

The mining town of Chiatura, Georgia, surrounded by steep cliffs, is criss-crossed by a network of aging Soviet-era aerial tramways that are still in use today. In the early 20th century, after the U.S.S.R. annexed Georgia, Soviet authorities were intent on extracting the vast manganese deposits beneath Chiatura. In the 1950s, planners began work on what locals call the "Kanatnaya Doroga," or "rope road," that still connects almost every corner of the town. Today, while some of the cars have rusted away, 17 of the aging tramways remain in service. Photographer Amos Chapple (who previously took us inside Iran and Turkmenistan) recently visited Chiatura, where he became fascinated with the cable cars and the locals who operate and ride them daily.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Niranjan Shrestha / AP

    Nepal, Three Months After the Earthquakes

    Three months have now passed since massive twin earthquakes struck Nepal, killing more than 8,800 people, injuring more than 22,000.

  • Abhishek N. Chinnappa / Reuters

    The Flying Machines of Flugtag

    Since 1992, Red Bull has been organizing Flugtag (“flying day”) events around the world, where participants build and pilot homemade flying machines off a 28-foot-high flight deck above a body of water. The aerodynamic qualities of many of the creatively built aircraft are questionable, and most do not so much fly as... plummet.

  • Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 7/18-7/24

    An embrace in a Kenyan village, Swan Upping in England, tragedy in southern Turkey, a kangaroo hopping through a frosty field in Australia, South Korea’s longest water slide ever, Hellsing cosplay in Brazil, naked tree-hugging in Berkeley, California, and much more.

  • NOAA / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.

    Images of the Ocean Blue: Photographs From NOAA

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an American scientific agency with roots that reach back to 1807. Over the years, NOAA has amassed a sizable library of photographs, some of which I’ve selected here.

Join the Discussion