The Rybinsk reservoir is also nicknamed “The Sea” as it is one of the greatest bodies of artificial water in the world. The water surface area of the reservoir is over 4.5 square kilometers and it has a depth as much as 26 meters. The waves on “The Sea” can reach up to a height of two to three meters.
“The Sea” originated following the 1935 decision to build the Uglitch and Rybinsk hydroelectric power plants on the Volga river. Many thousands of Stalin’s prisoners were forced to work on the scheme which resulted in the ancient city of Mologa, and more than 700 surrounding villages being totally submerged. Around 130 thousand displaced people needed to be resettled as a result of the “The Sea” being built. There is a museum in Rybinsk devoted to the Mologa land that was lost to the reservoir.
The Rybinsk Region is home to Triassic outcrops dating back approximately 236 million years and contains the preserved remains of many ancient amphibian vertebrates and plants. The unique Tikhvinskoe geological site can be found in the UNESCO preliminary World Heritage list of geological objects. Australia houses the only other comparable site in the World.
In the first half of the 19th century two waterway systems which linked the Volga and St. Petersburg were put into operation near the city of Rybinsk. Almost all grain cargo shipped to the Baltic Sea was transferred through the city and merchants from all over Russia came to Rybinsk. Tons of grain as well as linen, iron, salt, fish and timber were shipped and sold here. By the end of the 19th century, owing to the large amount of trade activity in the city, the Rybinsk exchange was set up. This became the first commodity exchange in the Russian provinces.
The hugely successful American film industry owes a massive debt of gratitude to two brothers, Joseph and Nicolas Schenck from Rybinsk. In the first half of the 20th century they founded the largest studios in Hollywood and promoted talents such as the outstanding actors Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Marilyn Monroe among a great many others. Joseph Michael Schenck (1878-1961) and Nickolas Michael Schenck (1881-1969) were born and grew up in Rybinsk in the family of Haim (Michael) Schenck, who was a manager in the office of the Volga Shipping Company. In 1893 the family moved to the USA. The brothers started their careers as newspaper boys but eventually ended up as major players in the American film industry. In the 1930’s, the elder brother, Joseph, was the head of the largest Hollywood studio, 20th Century Fox, whilst the younger brother, Nicolas, was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Metro Goldwyn Mayer motion picture company for 30 years.