The Icy Town of Verkhoyansk

To say that the small town of Verkhoyansk was isolated would be somewhat of an understatement. The Cossacks first established the town, located on the Jana River, in the year 1638. There is no access to the town by land during the summer. It is only reached by truck during the winter months, when the frozen track next to the Jana River is accessible to vehicles, and even then it is an eight-day trek from Yakutsk to Verkhoyansk. On hearing this, one has to wonder, why is the town working so hard to establish Verkhoyansk as a tourist destination in Russia?

This remote town has an estimated population of 1 300 residents, who are forced to survive the Arctic darkness until late January, plunging the entire town into the dark for twenty-four hours. It is known that the entire Yakutia region overflows with natural resources, such as natural gas, tin, gold, diamonds and coal, but the earth here is even too hard to lay water pipes underground, making major mining impossible. Legend states that God gave a bag full of riches to one of his Angels, but whilst flying over the Yakutia region, his hands froze and he accidentally dropped all the riches in one area. And in that legend lies the key to the motivation to develop Verkhoyansk as a tourist destination in Russia. If you were thinking riches, you would be wrong. The town hopes to lure visitors to spend an evening in the coldest pole on earth.

Temperatures that have been recorded at the Verkhoyansk Weather Station have shown a record low of minus 72 degrees Celsius, and an average temperature for January being minus 49 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, a nearby town by the name of Oimyakon is also trying to gain the title of Cold Pole, with an unofficial record low of minus 78 degrees Celsius. It is no wonder that this region has the nickname of "Stalin's Death Ring".

Most of the residents in Verkhoyansk raise reindeer and rely on hunting and fur for an income. The small local Verkhoyansk Museum is run by resident Varvara Kilillina, who collected all the artifacts herself. It contains some ten thousand years of history, from ancient tools, to mammoth bones, bowls and relics left behind from the brutal Gulag era. Another great attraction to the area is the Verkhoyansk Range that is a large mountain chain that snakes across the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and is known for minor mining being done to extract its riches of lead, coal, zinc and silver.

Keeping the town running is a full-time, hands-on job, as fires have to keep burning to prevent the heating system of the town from freezing up, and water needs to be collected by truck every day. Visitors will also have the privilege of meeting interesting locals, herders and hunters, who all have a very fascinating history and have become accustomed to surviving the brutal weather conditions and terrain.


User Comments & Reviews: 1 Comment(s)

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Ahamad Hasan - 2009-10-14 10:12:21

I know here are muslims in this city Where they came from and how people managed to live are they decendant from the gulags camps worker I want to know frankly We are all humans muslims and christians russians or arab thank you.

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