Omsk and Tomsk are ten hours and 49 minutes apart, flanking the better known city of Novosibirsk. Omsk is a city is southwestern Siberia, the second largest city east of the Urals with 1.1 million population. Siberian Cossacks settled the region, though they were neither land owners or peasants. But they did participate in military conflicts on behalf of the Tsars.
The city stretches along the banks of the Irtysh River where is joins the smaller Om River. It is an important railway hub, and is the junction of the northern and southern routes of the Trans Siberian Railway. Construction of the railway galvanized the growth of the city back at the turn of the century. It also serves as a major highway hub. The waterways connect Omsk to coal and mineral mining further up the rivers.
After World War 2, Omsk became a center of Soviet military production. Omsk also benefitted greatly from the oil and gas exploration and production in Siberia. After dissolution of the Soviet Union, Omsk suffered economic instability and political stagnation. The most notorious post Soviet case was the privatization of Sibneft, a major oil company, dragged on for years.
During the month of May, the temperature should average a comfortable 66 degrees F. The climate is notably dry, but with large swings in temperature, down to single digits in the winter. Its most notable citizens over the years are: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jaromir Jagr, and the anti-Bolshevik, Alexander Kolchak.
Tomsk, on the other hand, is located on the Tom River, and is one of Siberia’s oldest cities at 409 years old. The population is just about half a million. It was established by Tsar Boris Godunov in 1604. The discovery of gold in 1830 helped spur the development of Tomsk. Yet, one-fifth of the city were exiles in the mid 19th century. Years later it would become an educational center, with several universities. It earned the title of Athens of Siberia.
During World War 2, Tomsk became a center for military factories and an administrative center. But during the Cold War, it became a closed city. It later became a secret city due to its nuclear plant. The climate is similar to Omsk with averages temperatures in May at 64, and winters in single digits.
The main line of the Trans Siberian Railway passes 31 miles south of Tomsk, in favor of Novosibirsk. It is connected to the TSR by its own railway, the Tomsk Railway. While I do not plan to visit, I just thought that it rhymed so well with Omsk that I should mention it.
Here is a cute little story about the two cities. The people who lives in Omsk and Tomsk are called Omskians and Tomskians. That sounds rather logical. But even in good times, there is healthy competition between the two cities and people. Wherever two or three Omskians and Tomskians are gathered in a Siberian vodka shop, there is usually trouble.
PS: If you have twins, or adopt two cats, dogs, hamsters, or pigs, you can name them Omsk and Tomsk!!!! I think the words are gender neutral, at least back home in the States.