Vorokhta is a small town in Ivano-Frankivsk region in Ukraine. It is located in the upper reaches of the Prut River on the northern slopes of the Forested Carpathians near the Yablunytsia pass (850 m). The resort Vorokhta is a training center of Ukrainian sportsmen in ski jumping, biathlon and ski racing.

According to the legend, the name of the village appeared in 17th century, when a deserter from the czarist army a soldier Vorokhta settled in the village. He was a talented weaver; the fame of him spread rapidly throughout the area. Vorokhta was out of his own house. Just Vorohta’s weaving frame contributed to the glory of a new settlement and gave it a name – the village Vorokhta. So, we can certainly say that the village has received its final title in 1598.

Vorokhta railway timesVorokhta, wailway bridge over Prut River, 206 m long

In summer of 1884 the first train made his way to Vorokhta, simply through the mountains. It was a great wonder for the highlanders. They saw how the mound was built, the rails were concluded, and they know that the tunnels were broken through the Carpathian mountains, the stone bridges were built, they heard the stories about the train, but when it arrived people run from throughout. Firstly they were afraid even to go to the coach. The Austrian government primarily saw a resort area in the Carpathians.

Various commissions came here and examined the surrounding places. They paid a tribute to springs of healing water directly in Vorokhta and in its close and further neighborhood namely Verkhovyna, Transcarpathia.

Sanatoriums in Vorokhta

The railway from Lviv to Vorokhta and further to Transcarpathia tied in a single chain a resort strip from “Naftusia” in Truskavets to the mineral waters of Transcarpathia. The first resort in Vorokhta for treatment of tuberculosis patients appeared in 1906, it wore the name: “The first sanatorium”. In Soviet times it was renamed to “Mountain Air”. There is a spring at this resort which water is called kamianka. It is extremely clean, tastes good and has medicinal characteristics.Vorokhta sanatorium

A lot of rest houses and sport shelters arose in Vorokhta. More and more visitors came to Vorokhta in all seasons, and they rented apartments in the outskirts. They came for treatment, rest or hunting not only from Poland but also from other European countries.

Another sanatorium appeared on the other side of the Prut River in front of the first resort. The sanatorium was financed by the joint Company of the patients’ fund of Stanislav and Drohobych. This resort was built in 1921, and was designed for 117 beds. It was built of wood, but it had a good architectural design. Unfortunately, the building burned down during the war with a direct hit of artillery shell.

And then, speaking about the health and recreation facilities of Vorokhta it is worth to mention the rest house of the Polish governmental society “Skarbivka” with 180 beds. It was built on the hill in front of the Polish church. It was a wooden building covered with tiles. Both in summer and in winter a lot of nobility rested here.

Christianity foundation in VorokhtaOld church Vorokhta

By 1780 there was no church in Vorohta. Only in 1602 a worship chapel was build and consecrated near the People house at the crossroads, where the road turned to Voronenka. This chapel was destroyed; then during the Austro-Hungarian period it was restored in the reduced form as a monument, and the second time it was destroyed during the Soviet times in 1940.

1779 a descendant of Mykhailo Vorokhta, the village founder, Ivan married the granddaughter of the Voronenka village founder Ivan Voroniuk Evdokia, than the latter dowered the church of Voronrnka to his granddaughter. This church was moved to Vorokhta. So the first church arose in Vorokhta.

In the late 20s a new large church was built in Vorokhta. In 1930 all the values and the belfry with three bells were transferred from the old to the new church. The old church became desolate. During the Second World War Hungarians made a stable therefrom. Horses gnawed everything inside, the exterior walls also putrefied, the fence felt down. The historic church became empty. The chairman of the village council had the church key because it was talked about turning it into a museum of atheism. Some believers repeatedly appealed to the society of the current church and the pastor Cherniavsky with a proposal to repair the old church or at least to replace the old cross which bent and hardly stayed but nobody supported it.

The second church in Vorokhta village was named after Peter and Paul. The need for its building brewed when population in the village increased. The first question was the construction of the church and the house “Enlightenment”, because only one room in the teachers’ house was given for “Enlightenment”.

A lot of work was done by digging the building area because the place was beautiful but rough. The young mostly took up this work and by winter it was done. The above mentioned leaders were convoked for a meeting; the church brothers invited the masters-builders specialized mainly in the church construction. At this meeting a church project was approved and payment for the work was agreed. Construction began in 1928 and lasted two years. The church was built large, chequerwise covered with tin, with four domes on the edges and a large dome in the middle. Also a bell tower with three bells was built. 193 0 when all the work was completed the church brothers made a request to the Bishop of the Stanislav Greek Catholic Eparchy Hryhoriy Khomyshyn to come to the village for viewing a church and to appoint dedication of the church. Having inspected the church the Bishop Khomyshyn disagreed with the community because the church had five domes, and such architecture was illustrative of the Orthodox Church, therefore he set a condition to remove two domes. Otherwise, he refused to dedicate the church. The Community of Vorokhta protested against the Bishop’s Khomyshyn requirements and appealed to the Metropolitan of Lviv for explanations. Lviv sent a priest who dedicated the church in summer of 1930.

Formation of Education

After laying the railway the highlanders of Vorokhta and surrounding villages turned to education. 1906 Lviv People’s Institute built a teacher’s house in Vorokhta, and Mr. Ivantyshyn became its director. The house had rest rooms with 50 beds, a room of “Enlightenment” and a one-class school.

Then, a Polish school already existed during the second occupation of Western Ukraine by Poland. It was a Polish school where Polish and Jewish children learned, the school had 6 classes. There was also a native paid school with four years education. If someone wanted to get a secondary education, they had to complete four classes of Ruthenia school, go to Poland school and finish here fifth and sixth grades, and only then they could pass to the native paid school and finish four classes.

Farm training of youth

From 1937 until 1939 a farm training of young people existed in Vorokhta. The training was held on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the evening. The training was held by so-called “foremen”.
The training program was as follows: first hour – agricultural technology of growing beets, cabbages and various herbs; second hour – gardening and agriculture; third hour – political training. There were some changes in training hours: singing, dancing. There were many circles in the reading room of “Enlightenment”: singing, dancing, drama, and sports circles, so Vorokhta went to great development.

SportVorokhta old style skiing

During the Austrian period sport was not developed very much, because finances were invested in resorts. Sport began to develop in 1925 during the Poland period. In this year a house of the society “Friends of Hutsulshchyna” was built in Vorokhta (it burned down during the war, now another building stood on this place). The society included our Hutsuls and Polish Hurals from the Polish Tatras, «skiers from the Polish ski capital Zakopane. In Vorokhta they built a ski jump as in Zakopane. In 1930 two ski tracks namely large and for children were ready. They gained international importance. Ski races were carried out; they were called brigade races because of 5 men in a team. The distance was 150 km. Our team took a part at number 29. The famous Polish sportsmen came here. The society “Friends of Hutsulshchyna” organized competitions annually and invited athletes from Norway, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Finland and other countries, so Vorokhta was filled with guests the whole winter.

In Soviet times the ski center “Ukraine” and at the springboard “Avangard” – a rest house for sportsmen were built. Tourism in the Carpathians is a unique business, especially, if Vorokhta is chosen as the starting point. Go up the hill Yasen in Shymshoriv district (Shevchenko St.), take a look around, and choose a route. From here you can see the mountains Kychera, Kukul, Kostrycha, Rizha, Rebrovach, Lysyna; in the north – Magura, Kitylivka, Slipo-kura, Goverla, Foresok; in the northwest – Khomiak, Syniak, Gorgan and many other picturesque peaks. At the foot of Goverla on the mountain valley Zarosliak the tourist base of the same name works.

First industrial facilities

Austria put a great deal of effort and money to build the railway in the difficult mountain conditions, and to arrange primarily the resort area in Vorokhta. But its aim was also logging, taking into account the powerful untouched forest reserves of Vorokhta and surrounding areas. The Carpathians were rich in various tree species: horn beam, oak, sycamore, ash, birch, besides of fir and beech forests. It is enough to say that some trees have given up to 30 cubic meters of industrial wood. In 1910 the Austrian government built in Vorokhta a small sawing shop with two power-saw benches. First wood was brought by horses in winter because felling lasted four months: November, December, January, and February. Subsequently, the Carpathian narrow gauge railway was built, and was seven kilometers long. Two small locomotives working on beech wood hauled the special carriage for logging. One carriage could contain up to ten cubes. Wood was loaded at the seventh kilometer, at Arhelusha, and than from Arhelusha the carriage rolled down seven kilometers to the power-saw bench. Wood was loaded by hand, first onto a trestle to which it was brought by the horses, and from the trestle it was loaded out into the carriages also by hand. This track had also passenger carriages. They were used by workers and tourists. Now let’s turn back to the power-saw benches. These two power-saw benches were covered, a pit for gathering sawdust was under the frame, and this sawdust was taken out into the large boxes and brought to the boiler which moved a steam engine in the form of a locomotive without wheels and with an electric generator. The generator gave current for the whole sawmill. This sawmill belonged to the state. Another sawmill was located not far from the state one at the Prut River. The owner of this sawmill was a Jew Ara. But pride on their country did not allowed the local Hutsuls to go to work under foreign coercion. Who went to work at sawmill was contemptuously called “Baraba firysovyy”. Therefore, many strangers went to work in Vorohta.

Timber workers in VorokhtaLocal people were engaged in traditional crafts: weaving, furriery, embroidering keptars, pelts, petaks, producing lathes for house covering, shingles. In this crafts masters from Yablunitsia Petro and Mykola Kapitanchuk were known. There were such masters as builders, carpenters, carvers, turners. In wood sawing the ancient traditions were kept.

I want to dwell on the process of hand-cutting wood. Two pillars of two meters in height and with interval of four meters were buried in the ground. At the top of the pillars a beam and two blocks were fastened on which round timber was rolled up to the beam. The saws were of different lengths namely 130, 150 and 200 cm. Wood after felling was driven down and than people prepared it and carried it with horses to the appointed place. Horses were shoed with sharp horseshoes. Oxen also were shoed with the crescent-shaped horseshoes. The shoed four years old oxen could pull ten cubic meters of wood at once.


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