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

  • Danish Ismail / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Sweet Spill, Bovine Rescue, Miss Universe

    Big waves in Portugal, holiday lights in Europe, images from the asteroid Bennu, a flight with Virgin Galactic, a giant middle finger in Vermont, and much more

  • USGS / Reuters

    2018: The Year in Volcanic Activity

    Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava.

  • Jassen Todorov

    Winners of the 2018 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

    National Geographic magazine has announced the winning entries in its annual photo competition.

  • Emma McIntyre / Getty for KROQ / Entercom

    Photos of the Week: State Funeral, Mass Marriage, Krampus Parade

    A prison beauty contest in Brazil, a 3-D-printed e-motorcycle in Germany, the state funeral of former President George H. W. Bush, SantaCon in New York City, “yellow vest” protests in Paris, and much more