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The Rope Roads Of Chiatura

In the steep valley town of Chiatura, Georgia, the public transport system is an engineering spectacle -- but it isn't designed for the faint of heart. In the early 20th century, Soviet authorities sought to develop Chiatura into a booming miners' town to ramp up the extraction of manganese, an element used in steel production for its ability to stop rust. Planners built a sanitarium and cultural centers, but public transport within the gorge proved less straightforward. In response to the town’s extreme geography, a network of aerial tramways was built, providing access to almost every corner of Chiatura. Today, while some of the cars have rusted away, 17 of them -- including the Soviet Union's first passenger tramway -- remain in service. Photos by Amos Chapple.