The Dneprovsky Mine | Attraction Guides | History Hit

The Dneprovsky Mine

Magadan Oblast, Magadan Oblast, Russia

Sarah Roller

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Laika ac / CC

About The Dneprovsky Mine

The Dneprovsky Mine was a Soviet prison camp in eastern Russia and is now one of the best preserved of its kind.

History of the Dneprovsky Mine

Essentially, Gulags were forced labour or concentration camps for prisoners of the state (‘enemies of the people’), including criminals and political prisoners such as human rights activists and anyone deemed to be opposed to the state. They were particularly prominent during the rule of Joseph Stalin: it’s estimated tens of thousands died in gulags across Russia, although precise numbers are unclear.

Operating between 1941 and 1955, the Dneprovsky Mine was a tin mining site used by Stalin as part of a gulag. It was abandoned in 1955 as the tin ore dug was low grade, meaning the site wasn’t really viable. Few sites such as this still exist: many were dismantled by the state or reclaimed by the forest and surrounding landscape. Unusually, most of the infrastructure at the Dneprovsky Mine at the time it was used as a gulag is still there today, including watchtowers, huts and barbed wire fences.

The Dneprovsky Mine today

The site is pretty much deserted: there are no amenities or infrastructure. Many people choose to visit with a guide, particularly as it’s hard to get here without one. Given the remote location too, it’s worth making sure someone knows where you’ve gone and when you’ll be back.

Hiking around the perimeter of the camp is the best way to fully appreciate the loneliness and bleakness of the site – if you’re lucky (or unlucky), you might spot bears. Look out for the cemetery (where prisoners were actively buried against their burial customs) and the enormous pile of flattened tins, which were transformed into trays for making bread.

Getting to the Dneprovsky Mine

The Deneprovsky camp turnoff is at km post 265 from Magadan, just after the bridge over the River Bebeath. From there, it’s a further 10-12km drive up into the hills on unpaved roads – you’ll need a 4WD. It’s recommended you hire a local guide for the trip as it’s easy to get lost, particularly if you don’t speak Russian / read Cyrillic. There is no public transport heading this way!

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