Stalin’s Lost Railway

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 1

We’ve had recently an abandoned railway in Abkhazia, abandoned as a result of USSR collapse when new “independent” republics couldn’t maintain the complicated and high-cost USSR legacy objects. But this one was abandoned long before the USSR collapse, it was doomed to be abandoned from the beginning. It was built by a personal Stalin’s order in the middle of nowhere – deep inside Northern Siberia between Salekhard city and Igarka town. It was not connected with any other Russian Federal Railway System and the purpose of it still is not very clear, so as a senseless toy it way abandoned pretty soon and now rusts accessible only with a helicopter.

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 2

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 3

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 4

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 5

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 6

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 7

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 8

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 9

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 10

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 11

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 12

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 13

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 14

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 15

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 16

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 17

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 18

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 19

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 20

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 21

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 22

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 23

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 24

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 25

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 26

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 27

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 28

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 29

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 30

Igarka Salehard abandoned railway in Russia 31

via “Lost Biker Ru”

58 thoughts on “Stalin’s Lost Railway”

  1. I would love to visit this place. Were is the nearest city/town? How much would the helicopter trip cost? I really would like to know. I absolutely love these sorts of places!

    • Let me know when you are leaving 🙂 I dont know why they spend money in US for film sets they should just go to Russia.

    • You can’t go there. On january 1st 2007 the FSB has declared the railroad and the whole region north of it as part of the border zone (including Salekhard), which means the same regulations as for Norilsk, and other closed city’s and border regions: special visa/documents required. Part of it is in re-use by the oil- and gasindustry the way. Also there is the mega project Ural Industrial – Arctic Ural which will also increase new infrastructure projects to it and repair some (the railroad between Pangody and Novy Urengoi is really bad).

      The nuber of prisoners which were used were quite a lot higher then on the Solovetsky Islands, but the regime was less worse as the killing fields of the 1930s had already passed (however the muskitos were really bad and in winter temperatures could drop to -60 C).

  2. but a cold beauty now….without a dictating leader no culture in the world would build such impressive constructions themselves….the vision of one built by thousands

    let’s say thanks for not being involved 😉

    • that`s why i love dictatorship.no extra barriers of majority acceptance,no need to convince all assembly,no problem of funding,most of all no tension of shortage of `trained labours`.in late 40`s and early `50`s,mainly German(POW`S)are the main source of building massive Siberian infrastructure projects.when the project starts they are in millions,but at the end of the project they left in thousands! ! ! ! !.despite Stalin`s some cruel actions,i personally credit him,to build new Russsia,out of rubble and ashes.finally sender ,lost biker claimed,this rail system not connected to any main rail system.but these heavy engines,building material coming from the sky?

      • >that`s why i love dictatorship.no extra barriers of majority acceptance,no need to convince all assembly,no problem of funding,most of all no tension of shortage of `trained labours

        It might have been an easier job for the government, but what if you were one of those laborers? Do you have an idea of what Stalin did? Were you, by any chance, involved with the Soviet government?

  3. It was not that senseless because this Transpolar Railway should lead to Norilsk nickel.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salekhard-Igarka_Railway

  4. eto bili ne Solovki,ya oshibsia.

    construkcion Nº501

    http://www.avp.travel.ru/501_AK.htm

    http://mainroad.org.ua/site/page2882-ns0.html

    map of lagers

    http://www.memo.ru/history/NKVD/GULAG/maps/ussri.htm

      • http://www.solovkibp.ru/Solovki/com/eng.htm

        i think first what you have to do its come to Russia Moscow or Peterburg,than go to travel firm and ask how.
        Solovki’s lager(SLON)its more big lager of USSR.

        http://ijiki.livejournal.com/711284.html

        http://ijiki.livejournal.com/711429.html

        Solovki its White Sea,North)))and very posible there many moskits.

      • Thanks guys, that was very helpful. Thinking of going to Moscow again in May. But having been there a few times now, I was thinking of going even further afield and experience more of real russia. So I might be tempted..

        • Moscow and St. Petersburg is not real Russia. It’s meant for American/W. European tourists. Anyway, Russia has greatly improved from the 90s so it’s not so bad.

    • According to this German link ( http://www.globrailer.de/polarbahn.htm) there were gas chambers (gazkameri) in use by the NKVD, but I don’t know if that is true. But anyway human experiments were conducted in the Gulag, of which the most notorious were the ones at the uranium mine Butugychag at the Kolyma (the Chornobyl of Magadan) See here (Russian)” http://www.gulag.ipvnews.org/article20060901_01.php

  5. I dont understand– what is the first picture, of all the houses? Stalin built the railway, I understand, but WHAT’s with the houses? Did they build a little town too? More pictures of the houses please.

  6. заключённые охотно шли на 501-ую так как им обещали урезать сроки.обещание сдержали.

  7. As far as can be discerned, this rail system was to be a freight line between two military bases. Stalin’s government did not have the funds to build either base, so the rail line was abandoned.

    Just another helpful tidbit from the All-Seeing Pie-In-The-Sky.

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  9. Thank you for the photos and incredible history of this! Using Google Earth, I seem to have found artifacts of this railroad.

    A remote work camp outpost:
    Lat 65.6972°
    Lon 71.7661°

    A remote bridge:
    Lat 65.6088°
    Lon 71.9813°

    Others have added photos to these locations. It appears as though the railroad line is used as a road for trucks as it goes near Nadym. If you have the coordinates of the photos above, please email them to me! Thank you once more.

    • Hey Thanks Autoguy! I found it on Google earth. I can’t believe you can still see ruts in the ground and a road that runs beside the railroad track. Fascinating!

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  13. Looks like it was abandoned way before USSR had collapsed. The equipment of that kind of hardly used by 1990 and the labels on jar of pickes and vodka bottle speak of pre-1980s.

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  15. Wow. Those are the biggest wooden matches I’ve ever seen. (4th picture down).

    Also, was that village in the first picture made up of railway cars?

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  17. Amazing pictures. I’ve read a great deal about this project but never seen pictures. My understanding is that thousands died working on this boondoggle. Would be a really interesting place to explore. Thanks for posting!

  18. You should have indicated there were more pictures below. The placement of the “beach disaster” video made me think you’d changed topics.

  19. The Lost Railway

    These photos are invaluable to researchers such as me. I am currently completing considerable research for my 2nd book, You Have Two Hours to Pack. It is a true story about the deportation of one family to the Gulag; about the triumphs and tragedies of exiles. The Lost Railway is symptomatic of the misguided policies of Josef Stalin. True, he may have industrialized Siberia to a degree, but at what cost? To whom?

  20. Ummm, I don’t think it was a “boondoggle” or one of Stalin’s “misguided policies”. I’m pretty sure these where the gulags for political prisoners and those unwilling to accept communism. That’s why there was only one way in and even today, without the railway there is pretty much no way in. Sans helicopter that is. The fact that it is an area described above in this article one who’s use remains unclear is absolutely silly. This is where the reds sent Russians to die.

  21. It may be as well a forced work camp site for post WWII deported. Soviets deported civilians of german origin to work camps in Siberia. Also war prisoners war deported until Stalin died along with political prisoners as well.

    It would be interesting to find stories about this places from survivors, probably now dead or nor surfing the net.

  22. hi guys, kinna late to crash the party, but i will still chip in my .14rmb any way. the railroads aren’t exactly from the middle of nowhere to nowhere. it’s actually spanning from towns at the mouth of two major rivers of siberia, ob’ and yenisei. the upper streams of those respective rivers are populated with people and goods navegating along the river whenever permissible.

  23. I know this can be really boring and you are skipping towards the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some things for me!

  24. This can be Siberian prison camp (Stalin did sent everyone, who was or can be against Soviet union, in Syberia or far far from home. Iven elderlis and children. Everyone had to work in forestor somwhere else on hard labor! Thous workers cams was really a prison camps. Nobody cudent live there before they self where dead or after Stalins teth!!!) But im not sure, that, this is same gind of camp 🙁

  25. Recent years some parts of the railway have been rebuilt, and new lines constructed to connect lines with the general Russian railway system. The claims that the line was an idea only of a brutal dictator with no purpose at all, is in no way the right way to consider this project. And it is totally incorrect that the line has never been used at all. Some parts of it did function.
    It was part of developing the remote areas of Siberia by combining ports at the rivers Ob and Jenisej in order to explore minerals and other resources.
    I am not at all defending the use of forced labour – i.e. political prisoners in the Gulag system, in this case camp 501 and 503. I suppose that the photos of the barracks are from these camps.
    I refer to the article in Wikipedia – English version – from 2016 called: “Salekhard-Igarka Railway”.

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