Kadykchan – Yagodninsky District, Russia - Atlas Obscura


Yagodninsky District, Russia

Siberian ghost town built by gulag prisoners. 


This might not surprise anyone, but Kadykchan, a Russian mining town a few clicks below the Arctic Circle, is completely unpopulated. More people might be surprised by the fact that Kadykchan has only been unpopulated for two years.

Built in the 1930s by Gulag prisoners, the town of Kadykchan was constructed in the modern Far Eastern Federal District around the coal mines in the region. After the Gulag prisoners were released in 1960, many stayed in the Russian Far East to continue living in the cities and working in the mines.

Considering that the Far Eastern Federal District boasts only 2.5 people per square mile and permafrost cuts the growing season to three months, Kadykchan did not exactly grow into a vibrant metropolis. However, the population slowly grew and hit a peak in 1986 at 10,000 people, fairly respectable by Siberian standards.

Unfortunately, the town was hit hard by the fall of the Soviet Union, and subsequent devaluation of coal. Throughout the 1990s, a steady stream of Kadykchan residents left for larger cities. In 1996, an accident in the mine killed 6 people and was the final straw. Throughout the post-Soviet era, the population of Kadykchan dropped from over 10,000 people, to under 300 in 2007. Since many of the residents left very quickly, Kadykchan is now eerily filled with relics of its past. Posters still hang on walls, books are flung about on coffee tables and broken-down cars still haunt old garages.

A bust of Lenin is also still visible in the town, although fairly decrepit at this point. It seems only a matter of hard winters before the father of the Soviet party crumbles with the rest of Kadykchan.

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