Davsha – Russia - Atlas Obscura

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What was once the base for Russia's first nature reserve is now a ghost town, right on the shore of Lake Baikal. 


The small dark-furred sable that drew trappers to settle the unfriendly territory of Siberia was endangered by the 20th century, so in 1916 Czar Nicholas II set up Russia’s first nature reserve and a village to manage it.

Now, however, the little town that was once a protector of the nature reserve is abandoned. Davsha sits on the shore of Laike Baikal, its log houses empty as the turquoise paint wears away from their windows. From 1916 to 2005 when the funding was cut, the remote village was home to rangers and biologists who studied the sable as well as the other animals that roam the surrounding forests. 

However, under the current government, the long support for the outpost of civilization in the wild was ended. People left almost overnight, and belongings and relics of Davsha’s long history of ecological work remain, as does a locked natural history museum, schoolhouse, and other facilities. The grass grows wild and uncut, but you can still make out the quiet order of what life was like in what is now a ghost town. 

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February 10, 2014

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