National Geographic : 1952 Jun
eastern Turkey, where animals are the basis of the entire economy. . The Turkish Govern ment arranged a border conference with the Rus sians. Five officials from each side met around a Turkish conference table for ten hours to settle the dispute. The Turks, with their usual overflowing hospi tality, had loaded the table with vodka, ciga rettes, and a whole lamb with trimmings, and brought endless relays of Turkish coffee. But they might as well have demanded the sur render of Baku as to have expected compen sation from the Rus sians. In the end the Turkish Government had to pay the unhappy farmer $70. The Turks took what comfort they could in the spectacle of their giant neighbor asserting the sanctity of Soviet fron- 747 tiers-against a horse! Russians Take 1' The Turko-Soviet bor- Tt The train rolls into der beyond Kars is a while the Tsars ruled political and geographi- standard gauge-4 fee cal oddity. It is the only of the few Westerners place in Europe or Asia, Soviet border guards i except for a few miles in the desolate north of Norway, where the Soviet Union borders directly on a strongly armed, democratic, and traditionally hostile neighbor. On the National Geographic map which ac companies this issue you will see the black line of a railroad running northeast out of Turkey. That black line pierces the Soviet boundary and runs on to Leninakan, in Soviet Armenia, and to Tbilisi (Tiflis), the metrop olis and communications center of Soviet ter ritory between the Black Sea and the Caspian. This line, too, is unique. It is the only place around the entire 35,000-mile Soviet perimeter where a railroad provides direct connection between the territory of the North Atlantic allies and the Soviet Union. Today this connection is more theoretical than real, for the cold war has frozen all Soviet-Turkish trade. Only an occasional diplomat uses the railroad on official business. Yet a train still runs. Every Wednesday and Saturday, except when snowdrifts block the line, it puffs slowly uphill from the city of Kars to the Barbed-wire Curtain. Gunnar ). Kumllen, Plx No Chances: Bayonets Will Prod for Bombs the Soviet Union on a 5-foot-gauge Russian track laid Kars before World War I. Most Turkish lines are t 8/ 2 inches. The brakeman on rear platform is one who enter and leave Russia regularly. At this point, nspect every foot of undercarriage. I saw the train and watched the solemn, half-comic ceremony that accompanies each of its border crossings. It had a tall-stacked engine, built, I guessed, around 1890, although I could find no date on it. It had a coal car, a tiny baggage car, and a passenger car. Except for one package, the baggage car was empty. The passenger car had only the Turkish train crew and three Turks in uni form-an army lieutenant, a police official, and a customs guard-to see it to the border. Soviet Guards in Full Dress The train stopped a few yards short of the frontier, which was on a bridge over a high culvert. The three Turks walked out and advanced to the boundary, the lieutenant in unpressed khaki, the officials in well-worn gray. From the Russian side two officers marched stiffly down the tracks toward the boundary, followed by two privates carrying long bay onet-tipped rifles. All four were dressed as if on parade.