Russian ‘Atlantis’ Reemerges After Being Flooded For Decades

A town in Central Russia has reemerged from the depths of a reservoir after severe water shortages caused water levels to drop dramatically.

The town of Mologa in the Yaroslavl region has remained underwater since Stalinist times, but a recent drought and the ensuing drop in water levels has uncovered the town’s churches, houses and even a cemetery, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

 Mologa in central Russia was once a thriving place—before Joseph Stalin decided in 1935 to flood it and make way for a reservoir and hydroelectric power station. Some 130,000 people were forced from their homes and an estimated 300 who refused to leave were drowned, recounts the BBC.

Flooded in the 1940s to create the Rybinsk Reservoir on the Volga River, parts of Mologa are uncovered every couple of years as water levels drop, prompting former residents to revisit the town’s landmarks and the graves of their relatives.

A monument erected in November 2003 commemorates the several hundred Mologa residents who refused the authorities’ evacuation order and chose to go down with their houses rather than vacate their properties to make way for the hydroelectric power plant.

Though many former residents sail to the spot of what the news service calls the “Russian Atlantis” each year, one got more than he bargained for this summer: Thanks to a recent drought, Nikolai Novotelnov was able to “walk his native turf again.”

Foundations of buildings and the outline of streets are now exposed. “Here was the inn, over there was the Voikov school and the flour store,” Novotelnov, who was forced from the town at 17, told Russia’s TV Tsentr, per the BBC. “Communist Street ran that way, towards the district administration building, the chemists, and my house,” he added. While he left flowers at the foundation of the once-grand Cathedral of the Epiphany and packed up bricks to bring back to fellow Mologans, he isn’t likely to be the only one to return. RIA Novosti reports many former residents and their descendants now plan on making the journey back home.

Interior Ministry officer report describes the horrible fate of the people who didn’t want to leave their homes when the Rybinsk Power Plant got under construction. When it was decided to build a huge water reservoir on the banks of River Volga and its confluents, 130 thousand people were moved to new lands and 4 600 kilometers of fertile land, 700 villages, 140 churches and monasteries, and an ancient Russian city Mologa submerged into the waters of the reservoir. 294 people enchained themselves and remained under water.