Chapter Three



By Sh. D. Borker




The development of our city is divided into two periods: the first until second half of XIX century, that is to say until the construction of roads and railroads. The second begins in the second half of XIX century. Until the construction of railroads and roads, Pruzhany was on the main road that crossed Oriental Europe, on the Brest – Moscow road. This road served as a mail station and for a stop to change horses.


This road had an important role for the continuous development of the city, as it was the main road that crossed Oriental Europe. Rivers were not of great importance in the population's economic life. Our area is in the fork of two hydraulic systems, where one flows to the Baltic Sea (Muchawietz, Bug, Wisel), and the other one to the Black Sea (Yasolda, Pripet, Dnieper).


The Brest-Moscow road had two branches. One was used as the mail road and went by way of Kobrin and it was larger. To shorten the journey, one traveled through Zshabinka, Kiwatitsha and Stepanka; the entrance to Pruzhany town was down Kobrinska Street. The first road was built by the middle of XIX century, before the reign of Nicolai I. The road existing throughout the previous centuries went by way of Pruzhany and it was moved some 20 kilometers away from the city in order to be in a straight line. The cause of the deviation of the route was the specific construction definition in times of Nicolai I, according to which it should be, as an order of the czar, in a direct line without deviations. It was constructed this way (see map).


Pruzhany's Urban Commission and the Russian peasants were happy, because they were not merchants only peasants who were afraid that part of their land could be taken away for the road. The government paid a certain amount for the land but, of course, they paid a lower price than what its owner’s appraised value was. It was well known that later, when the routes in the city were built, the peasants consoled themselves saying that the route will be destroyed. The Jewish community, on the contrary, was interested in this issue.


Engineers suggested that, if a certain amount were to be paid, the route could be extended into the city. A meeting of outstanding business owners was called, but this meeting did not have positive results because they lacked the quantity of money necessary. Until today a curious version says that, during the meeting, it was said that the Messiah would come soon. Since people listened to rumors and, they had tests that the end was close, then they concluded that it was not worthwhile to give Jewish money into gentile's hands. Also, they would no longer need the route, etc.


The construction of the route continued outside of our city, and was of course close to the previous route that crossed through Pruzhany near the mail station. The place for resting the horses was moved in order to be on the route. The communication with Pruzhany was through the route near Bereza, in Svadvitsh, about 26 kilometers from Pruzhany.  From that moment on the development of the city slowed and began to be delayed. Contact between the villages and the town’s people suffered because of this.


Mail stations still remained and long-term horse resting places in Selcz, Rozhinoy, Volkovysk and Grodno. Later they also disappeared when the railroad was built. The routes through Rozhinoy, - Visoke Litovsk were built ten years later. These routes belonged to the third group of strategic routes whose Main Commission was in Pruzhany. Since the main need for routes was for use in war times, military manpower was used for its construction at the beginning. When the route Rozhinoy - Visoke was built, a posse of soldiers was sent and they built the first tract. Later, two Jewish contractors, ZAKS and LAPIN, who were the successful bidders, executed the road construction.


The route to Shereshev and Lineve was newly built at the beginning of XX Century. The route to Lineve that, according to the plan, would end at Volkovysk, was extended to Pruzhany. It was not finished due to the start of the Russian-Japanese war in 1904.


The city was hit in the 1860's when the railroad line Brest-Moscow was built.  Then the Brest-Smolensk line was built, since the Smolensk-Moscow was already built. This line was 12 kilometers from Pruzhany, and this had a significant influence in weakening the growth and the development of the city.


The reason why the engineers were ordered to leave Pruzhany out of the road building is unknown. The railroad went farther away from the Tevly station compared with the previous mail station that led to Pruzhany. Next to Bereza it came closer again to the old route. In the city it was the opinion that the engineers did not get a very important sum of money, as was the case when the routes were built and for that reason they did not bring the railroad near to Pruzhany. Our town, as well as most other towns, was some kilometers away from the station.  The constant repetition of these facts was possibly the reason for not including these towns in the railroad network.


It was said that the railroad would not come to Lineve and Bluden that, at that time, belonged to feudal landowners. Feudalists were very interested in having the railroad line pass by their properties. For that reason they contributed a large amount and the issue was solved for their benefit.