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Visiting GULAG places

General information: Kayur Travel LLC conducts tours to historical places of Magadan Region. We offer our guests Kolyma highway tours with visiting historic sites of Kolyma exploration. The tours include visiting the memorial places of mass repressions in Kolyma.
We are ready to develop for you an individual tour to the remains of the camps of the Stalin cult times. In these places where it is possible to get only by offroad vechicles, you can still see the hills, pitted with mines and quarries, wood coppers and industrial instruments, guard towers and trucks, ramshackle wooden buildings, remnants of life of prisoners and guards. It is impossible to remain indifferent seeing it. According to historians there were more than four thousand camps in our region. From the largest ones called transit camps with the main flow of prisoners coming through them to the small camp settlements containing one or two hundred prisoners. Large camp departments organized directly at the production, could contain several thousand people, but not tens of thousands due to extremely difficult management. There were also smaller camps, obviously created temporarily for the period of performing a certain work - construction of the road, felling operations, metal production. In the end of the 50's most of the camps were closed. At the same time some settlements were closed, but most of them remained. Over the past 55 years they have absorbed an abandoned camp infrastructure. The equipment was transported to the operating enterprises or put into scrap metal. Buildings were reconstructed, dismantled, taken away on wood, torn down or burned. Camps focused on placer gold mining often located at the deposit site. Later they were destroyed after gold remining of the badly explored old waste dumps. There have been cases when remining opened the old camp burial. The best preserved camps and productions are remote from the Kolyma highway and closed with its towns-satellites in the mid 50s. They are mainly represented by cassiterite/tin mines. The name of our city is often associated with Stalin's repressions, when millions of people died as a result of terror and false accusations. Unfortunately the theme of Gulag is mostly interesting for our foreign visitors and not for Russians. We would like to offer our compatriots to see the former camps of the Stalinist repressions when there is still an opportunity to explore these places and there are people who are ready to guide you. The same historical tour may cover visits to several camps along the route.

Kheta manual labor tin mine
At a distance of about 250 km. from Magadan there is a place where from 1938 to 1945 a tin mine Kheta was located. Kheta alluvial and tin deposits were discovered in 1939 by geologist B.L. Flerov. This place has been named after Kheta River which is a right tributary of the Maltan River. In 1944, due to the small amounts of metal mining Kheta mine was first preserved, and in August 1945, "due to the low tin grade and extraction, as well as poor balance reserves" the mine and the mill were generally excluded "from existing enterprises of Dalstroy ". Besides, in Dalstroy system new promising mines were discovered and manpower was transferred to other plants from Kheta Mine. The equipment of the mine, ore-dressing plant and power plant were dismantled and taken away to other mines, particularly to the Dneprovsky mine. In the postwar years in the center of Kheta mining plant SevVostLag Central Hospital still operated. Since March 1949 in Kheta village the hospital was dismantled and moved to Debin village. A trip to the former Kheta mine takes one day. In the evening tourists will return to the hotel in Magadan, or, if desired, can spend the night in a tent camp or in a sanatorium of Talaya resort close to that place. We are ready to organize such tours from mid-June to late September. There are no residential and industrial buildings in the territory of the former Kheta mine, but you can see the basements of the barracks, the various prisoners household items (rusty stoves, window bars) and equipment, as well as traces of the prisoners who worked at the mine. On the hill, three hundred meters from the road, there is a cemetery of prisoners with more preserved columns.

Visiting Butugychag former GULAG mine
Butugychag camp is one of the most horrible camps of Kolyma region. Many people got to know about it thanks to the author of the memoirs Black Stones A.Zhigulin who was a prisoner of the camp. In the end of 80th, the beginning of 90th lots of people talked and wrote about this camp mentioning the uranium mining for soviet atomic weapons. Butugychag is a complex consisting of several camps which are situated in different places close to each other. According to recent data, the number of prisoners working there was more than 7.5 thousand people in some years. Initially, cassiterite was mined there. In the postwar years uranium was discovered near the mine and a significant part of the prisoners began to mine it. The camp was founded in Dalstroy system in the middle of 1937. The first people there were prisoners who crashed the rock having no idea what they are dealing with! Steep hills, mines, stone huts (there was much stone over there), the parts of the railway, and a cemetery, just between the hills. There are hundreds or maybe, thousands of short poles with tin tables with the prisoner numbers on them they remember us about people who died here in 30-s 50-s In the end of May 1955 the mine was finally closed. 18 years activity of Butugychag became a history. The tour begins in Magadan. Then you need to move to Ust-Omchug settlement (240 km.). We make stops along the Kolyma highway in iconic locations associated with the Gulag. Our guides will show you the mine, tell the story of this place, bring you to the most interesting preserved artifacts.
If you plan to visit Butugychag it can take you no less than 5 days. The route begins in Magadan.
1st Day Transfer Magadan Ust-Omchug settlement (~5 hours driving), accommodation in the hotel.
2d Day Transfer to Butugychag camp by 4WD vehicle, accommodation in the tent camp.
3d Day Camp observation. You will have to walk a lot!
4th Day Transfer to Ust-Omchug, accommodation in the hotel.
5th Day Transfer to Magadan.
You should know if the weather is rainy, the car might not cross the streams. Under poor weather conditions the tour is canceled.

Visiting Dneprovsky former mine
Dneprovsky mine is situated 320 km far from Magadan. It started in summer 1941 and functioned with short interruptions till 1955. Tin was mined there. The basic manpower was prisoners, convicted according to different Criminal Code titles of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and other republics of the USSR. Along with them there were illegally repressed people according to political titles who have already been vindicated or still being vindicated. They are the victims of mass repressions, Stalin totalitarian regime and bloody Gulag. During the Dneprovsky operation the main tools were a pick axe, a shovel, a steel bar and a wheelbarrow. However the most part of hard production process was mechanized including American equipment "Denver" which was brought in from the USA during the Great World War II according to the Lend-lease program. Later the equipment was disassembled and sent to other industrial camps, that is why you will not see it in Dneprovsky site now. When the mine worked it was divided into fishing and camp zones where the prisoners worked and lived. They were located above the settlement of civilian employees and technologists.
The fragments of industrial and residential constructions remained up to the present moment, i.e. houses similar to the Russian hut in the settlement, a fragment of a crusher with dead ore piles, watchtowers, barbed wire and lanterns in the industrial and camp zones.
On the top of the industrial zone (100 m altitude) there are some ditches for ore mining thus describing the hard labour of the prisoners. Here you can also see watchtowers proving the presence of existed custodial guard all around Dneprovsky mine surrounded by barbed wire. Thus Dneprovsky mine is one of the most preserved industrial sites of Kolyma camps and Kolyma Gulag. It is the historical monument of Stalin despotism. Usually tour to the former Dneprovsky mine takes two days/one night. We make stops along the Kolyma highway in iconic places associated with Gulag. Our guides will show you the mine, tell the story of this place, bring you to the most interesting preserved artifacts. Accommodation at the Dneprovsky mine can be only in the tent camp. We provide tents, fire equipment, if needed - sleeping bags and mats. This trip can be done in one day, in this case, you should depart from Magadan early in the morning and come back late in the evening. You should also know that the last 20 km - it is off-road. If the weather is rainy, the car might not cross the streams. Under poor weather conditions the tour is canceled.

Visiting the former women's camp "Elgen"
Elgen is a settlement in Yagodninsky district in Magadan region. It is located in a valley among dense taiga. It, like other camps, got its name from the river Elgen River. Among the famous women's camp Elgen ex-prisoners - Eugenia Ginzburg ("Within the Whirlwind"), Zinaida Likhachev ("Detail of the monument"). In 1934-1957 in Elgen there was one of the largest agricultural state farms of Dalstroy. On its basis Elgen Women's correctional labor camp was formed. There was a children's complex there, so called children's home for children born in the camp. They were forcibly taken away from their mothers and kept in an orphanage until the age of two, and then sent to orphanages on the "mainland". Nearby there is a children's cemetery where imprisoned women buried their children dying in the camp orphanage from illnesses and lack of attention. This area has a unique climate for agriculture, so in the beginning of 1935 the farm was organized here. In late 1930s imprisoned women grew here oats, barley and even wheat, and in greenhouses - tomatoes and cucumbers. Tomatoes grew even in the open field. There were more than five hundred horses, several hundred cattle, hundreds pigs. By 1940 there were about 200 heads of Pamir yak and a few dozen donkeys, which were used on farms as draft animals. For growing vegetables in Elgen there was a covered greenhouse and twelve open greenhouses where heat was maintained by dung smoldering.
There was also a small brick factory, where women produced a thousand bricks per day. On the 16th of April in 1957 SevVostLag was reorganized. Elgensky camp was liquidated, and only civilian employees worked in the Elgen farm form that time. From Magadan the trip to the camp ideally takes 3 days with two overnight stays on the way. At the present time in the places of former Elgen camp there are the following remains: the barrack that is converted to the farm building workshop, partly destroyed office building, more than 50 meters of barbed wire which is a kind of a hedge for the building workshop.

"Serpantinka" - a place of mass executions of prisoners
This place lies in a deep valley, between the hills, a mile from the center of the former Northern Mining Authority, Khatynach settlement. According to Ivan Panikarov, a founder of the Museum of Kolyma Memory a few hundred meters from the dirt road there were barracks for those prisoners who were sentenced to death. Doomed people were shot within the sound of the tractors engines running so the shoots were not heard. Lifeless bodies were dumped to ditches and covered with earth ... " In the second half of the 80s in this place, rich of gold, gold mining enterprise started mining the precious metal. Together with the gold-bearing sands human bones and bullets were found on the trammel. The miners categorically refused to work at this place, and mine was "mothballed" ... On the 22nd of June, 1991 in the place of barracks a modest monument was erected to all those who died in Kolyma in the years of terror. Today for some unknown to us arrangements many Kolyma drivers, passing by Serpantinka honk continuously thus saluting to the mournful place. Serpantinka is located at a distance of about 35 km. from Yagodnoe settlement, or 585 km. from Magadan. The trip involves one or two nights on the way.

A visit to Canyon and Old Canyon former mines
If you drive on the Kolyma Highway for 496 km it is possible to reach Seimchan settlement. And further you can drive to the remains of Canyon mine and in another thirty kilometers - to Old Canyon tin mine. Canyon cobalt mine was organized in 1947. The main manpower of the mine was prisoners of SevVostLag. Over the years, there were up to 1072 people. They were guarded by 150 soldiers from the 86th Division of the USSR Interior Ministry convoy troops. In 1947-1952 Canyon mine has mined 470 000 tons of ore and 443 tons of cobalt. During the same period 20700 running meters of underground workings were covered, of which 13 100 meters were just exploration. 1954 was the last year of production activities of Canyon cobalt mine. (According to the archives of the Magadan historian Kozlov AG). The most impressive object of Canyon mine is still an ore-dressing plant, located at the foot of the hill. It is made of wood. In addition to domestic equipment there were imported mechanisms - huge rotating drum-crusher, powerful pumps, conveyors and other items of American company "DENVER". The ore-dressing plant, both outside and inside looks impressive. The structure is made of the powerful logs (possibly local forest - larch) in the form of a cascade of four steps and it is eight to ten meters high. It is a unique battened, plastered and whitewashed structure. Inside on powerful foundations there are powerful domestic and foreign equipment - conveyors, motors, tanks, rails. At the top point - left and right - two receiving bunkers where cobalt ore was bulked and then sent to recycling. There are narrow-gauge railways close to them. Three hundred meters away from the camp close to the hill there is a camp cemetery with low poles with plates on them. Opposite it, over the Verina River there is a civilian cemetery with metal fences, monuments and stars. Most of the camp and civilian buildings were destroyed because of the "age". They buried all what was inside.
Old Canyon camp The road to Old Canyon camp is very difficult. Trees hanging over the road almost destroyed the road, bushes and huge boulders and sometimes impassable ice. You can get there only by off-road vehicles. Vehicles move at a speed of no more than 3 or 4 km/hour. At the very end of the valley there was once the household structure of the village-Old Camp Canyon. Up the valley there is a mine, on the hill there is a half-ruined watchtower. The territory of the camp consists of several barracks. Below, in the valley there are a dozen of good-quality chopped houses where definitely civilians lived. One of the buildings does not look like a residential building, perhaps, it was a club. Another, which is unusual inside, is a store with shelves and a counter. In residential buildings (almost in all of them) there are metal and wooden handmade beds, including children beds, desks, tables, chairs, sinks. Every building has a "heater", which even today can be fully used. Many windows have their glass, somewhere doors are closed tightly. There are some of the dishes, not only made of cans, but also enamel mugs and aluminum bowls.
According to Ivan Panikarovs materials http://www.kolymastory.ru/glavnaya/eho-dalstroya/po-mestam-ne-stol-otdalyonnym/