Monday, October 31, 2016

Russian Urban Legends

When I was a kid I would never have nightmares. I do remember having them from time to time, but then I made a dream catcher and from that time until a few years ago I never had a nightmare. I never liked scary movies, but I loved telling ghost stories. I was a fan of Haunted Ohio and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, both of which used to reside in my grandma's basement. So, I guess you can say I've always been fascinated with a good unsolved mystery. Unfortunately, I have too many nightmares nowadays so I have to be careful. Nonetheless, for Halloween I thought I'd put together a "spooky" post I've been considering for several months now. A post on Russian Urban Legends fit for the Grim Reaper himself.

Dyatlov Pass

This is probably the most famous Russian mystery which I happened to come across when I was preparing a lesson on unsolved mysteries. The story goes that in February of 1959 a group of nine experienced hikers decided to go for a hike in the Ural mountains. When they weren't heard from after several weeks a search team went out to find what happened to the group. Their campsite was found in disarray with all their belongings left behind as if they had fled for their lives.

The campers were found away from the campsite with the first two being found nearly a mile away. What makes the story strange is that many of them were found naked or wearing the clothes of other members of the group. The didn't show any signs of external injuries, had a dark brown tan, and their clothing and campsite contained high levels of radiation.

Their deaths still remain a mystery. Although hypothermia and an avalanche seem to be the best explanation for the groups' demise it still doesn't explain everything, like why large amounts of radiation were found at the scene. Atlas Obscura and Motherboard both have great articles about the incident if your interested in reading about it in more detail. You can also listen the the Lore podcast of this story here.

Valley of Death in Yakutia, Siberia

This area is said to be the home of mysterious dome-like objects left by aliens hundreds of years ago. If you search "Valley of Death Siberia" you will be able to see drawings of what the cauldrons are supposed to look like. Apparently the region is cursed and the local Yakut tribes will not venture into the area. It is said that people who go into the valley do not come out, and other people have claimed to have mysterious illnesses occur after coming in contact with the area. There was a large explosion that took place in the 1920s over this area that still cannot be explained. According to the History Channel there was a battle between alien groups. My students tell me they might have been experiments done by Nikola Tesla. I don't think we'll ever know for sure what happened in this are. You can watch a clip from History Channel's Ancient Alien's here or read the detailed history of the area with detailed "eye witness" accounts of mysterious events here, including the unsolved Tunguska explosion.

Well to Hell

In the legend of Well to Hell a man named Dr. Azzacov supposedly drilled a hole almost 9 miles deep into the ground of an undisclosed place in Siberia. He decided to put a heat resistant microphone into the hole to see what kind of information he could gather from it. According to legend, the microphone went so far into the center of the earth that he was able to record the screams of people in hell. A recording that claimed to be that of the cries and screams was simply sound effects from the movie Baron Blood.

This story isn't completely fictitious, however. The Soviet Union did, in fact, dig a hole that was nearly 8 miles deep in the Kola Peninsula near Finland and Norway. It was the largest manmade hole until 2008 and 2011. No supernatural events have occurred as a result of any of these boreholes. Click the links to read more on the Well to Hell and Kola Borehole.

Do you know any other Russian urban legends? What are popular urban legends in your area?

You can see these photos in their original posts here, here, here, and here.


  1. Such a fun post! I don't think there are any urban legends in my area.

    1. I'm sure there are. There are several from where I live in Cleveland.

  2. The Dyatlov Pass legend sounds interesting. Like where did all that radiation come from? Did these hikers stumble upon a Soviet nuclear testing area by mistake? Makes you wonder how many other mysteries still exist across Russia from the Soviet era.

    1. The legend creeped me out when I first heard about it. I guess the Soviet government denied there was a nuclear testing site nearby, but who knows! I'm sure there are so many mysteries. Actually, just a few weeks ago these boys driving in Bashkortostan caught a "Yeti" on their dash cam. Just search "Big Foot in Bashkortostan" and you can probably find the video. I don't know how true it is but it's kind of eerie.


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