The Sulyukta coal mines are located in the Tian-Shan Mountains, not far from the Samarkand-Tashkent railroad that Prokudin-Gorskii took to photograph the 1907 solar eclipse. The adventurous photographer could not pass up the opportunity to explore the nearby Tian-Shan in the vicinity of the Sulyukta coal mines, owned by a Russian entrepreneur.

Stretching for approximately 1,800 miles from east to west, the Tian-Shan Mountains boast of some of the highest and least explored peaks in the world. Its glaciated summits soar to 23,000 feet, and its remote valleys are frequented only by flocks of grazing sheep and shepherds on horseback. This enormous mountain range is shared by Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China, occupying up to 90% of Kyrgyzstan’s territory.