6 In The Valleys of Death: The Top 5 Russian Ghost Towns

In The Valleys of Death: The Top 5 Russian Ghost Towns

Posted on January 9, 2017 by konst4

In the 1930s in the Soviet Union an active development of natural resources of the north began. Among the gray snow of tundra and walking reindeer coal, tin, gold, nickel, oil and molybdenum were extracted from the earth. A little later, the military joined a bearded geologists and miners: these little adapted areas were suitable for defense from attacks of probable enemy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union a lot of northern businesses and a significant number of military bases became unnecessary for the government. Along with the slaughters, shops and airfields towns in which their employees lived became abandoned.

Iultin, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug

In the mid-1930 s industrialization came to the Land of the Soviets. In different parts of the state at the same time they were built hundreds of large industrial enterprises. Most of the new industrial giants needed relevant raw material base – there weren’t enough of old resources found in the times of the Russian Empire, and many valuable minerals were not mined. Meanwhile, in the face of the deteriorating of international relations, when everything showed the coming of world war, development of new deposits becomes a matter of strategic importance.

In search of the desired “Klondike” by party and Comrade Stalin personally geologists climbed into the most inaccessible places. In 1937, in the north-west of Chukotka they found large reserves of tin, molybdenum, tungsten, lead. The nearby Mountain is called Iultin, the deposit and the village near it had the same name. Construction was made by prisoners, and the scale of development was such that, in addition to the settlement of miners, at the same time on the shore of the Bering Sea was built port for export production and a 200-kilometer road between them.

Due to the beginning of the Great Patriotic War and extremely difficult natural conditions the start of Iultinsky mining and processing plant took began only in 1959. The nearby village has grown rapidly in a fairly large by the standards of the Chukotka village where residents have tried to create the most comfortable conditions. Iultin was completely cut off from the mainland, fresh food was expensive and brought here only twice a year, and an average annual temperature was minus 10 ° C could only be loved by people with particularly hardened spirit. But on the other hand, a good salary, a great vacation, feeling of closed, but relatively tight-knit community, and a full infrastructure around with kindergartens and schools, a sports complex and the house of culture, and the health center allowed living a normal life even beyond the Arctic Circle.

In the 1990 s mine was closed – mining became unprofitable in the new conditions. These businesses were a life of Iultin. This process lasted for several years, but the end was inevitable. By the beginning of the XXI century village, where more than five thousand people, was completely empty. Now Iultin is like a classic northern ghost town, where sometimes people appear: tourists who come here for the memories and the former residents.

Alykel, Krasnoyarsk krai

Unlike the unfortunate Iultin, Norilsk won’t have such fate, though the circumstances of their birth were similar in many ways. By the mid 1920 s in the north of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, 2,000 kilometers from the regional center, the existence of rich copper-nickel deposit has been established. Nickel reserves, the most important metal used in making armor for tanks and aircraft designs were so big that the city grew really fast. Even before the war began, a large mining industry has started its work here, continued to develop, and after its completion. Over time, Norilsk got some towns satellites, one of which was Alykel.


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6 Responses to “In The Valleys of Death: The Top 5 Russian Ghost Towns”

  1. john dudley says:

    Cool posting, sad to see so many empty building’s, and the people that lived there then forced to move just like that very sad.

  2. Douglas says:

    These ghost towns reveal the hell of Soviet style central planning. Lots of resources spent for nothing in the long run.

    • Jarema says:

      Your problem is western style of thinking. It was not resource as it was for free. Concrete, steel and labor was very cheap in Soviet Union. Prob. majority of this was done by prisoners or extremely cheap labor – as when u did not work, u were a saboteur and ur fate was gulag and death. This is more sad imho…

  3. RB says:

    Who cannot love all these pictures from such places we will never see with our own eyes?

    I am in Canada and after the cold war I remember watching some news team go inside Russia to see things. They went to one place that had big bags of diamonds. There were maybe five hundred bags and they told the news guys to pick any bag they want to see. They picked out one bag and the Russian guys poured out the whole bag was full of diamonds. I wonder where that place was?

    • Douglas says:

      Russia has a hoard of thousands and thousands of diamonds. They keep these OFF the market to control the price. If all the available diamonds hit the market, the price of a diamond would be about $50 -$100 instead of thousands of dollars.

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