The Coldest Road in the World

By John Misachi on April 25 2017 in Did You Know

Many of the workers engaged in the construction of the Kolyma Highway froze to their death while working.
Many of the workers engaged in the construction of the Kolyma Highway froze to their death while working.

Where Is The "Road of Bones?"

The R504 Kolyma Highway Is a Russian Federal Highway running through the Russian Far East. It connects Magadan and Yakutsk with the town of Nizhny Bestyakh which is on the bank of Lena River. R504 Kolyma Highway is linked to the Lena Highway at Nizhny Bestyakh. The road is regarded as the world’s coldest road. Two towns along the road, Tomtor, and Oymyakon, also claim to be the coldest inhabited areas in the world. It is also called the Road of Bones because of the laborers who died and were buried underneath the road during its construction. The road is also known locally as Tpacca (the route) or Kolymskaya trassa and is the only road in the area.

The Construction Of The Kolyma Highway

Kolyma Highway was constructed during the USSR’s Stalinist era by the Dalstroy constructors. It was built by the labor force provided by the inmates of the Savvostlag labor camp who built the first section in 1932. However, the gulag labor continued with the construction until 1953. The original length of the road was about 1,200 miles. During the creation of the road, thousands of inmates died as a result of the freezing weather and poor working conditions. The bones of the people who died are beneath or on the road. Burying the dead bodies in the permafrost was thought to be easier than digging holes to bury them. The highway is therefore treated as a memorial and is often referred to as Road of Bones.

The Present Status Of The Road

The highway underwent a period of negligence before 2008 making it unusable by a standard vehicle. The bridge was washed away while streams reclaimed several sections. The road was granted Federal Road Status in 2008 and currently some sections are well maintained all-weather road. However, the old section, known as Old Summer Road, which passes through Tomtor is largely unmaintained providing a great challenge for motorcyclists. During winter, the frozen water forms a hard surface which assists in the crossing of the river. The conditions of the road become extreme in summer with mud being the worst enemy. The road has no asphalt because of the permafrost which causes the mud to induce traffic jam whenever summer rains swing in the area. The natural clay turns into impassible mud blanket which swallows motor vehicles of any kind.

Dangers Of Traveling On The "Road of Bones"

Kolyma Highway is one of the most desolated by travelers with few people knowing about the coldest road in the world. During winter, the road also becomes extremely dangerous because of the heavy snow and the extremely reduced visibility. The road’s condition is best around October when the surface is made of ice. During this time, the ice bridges of Lena and Aldan are passable to trucks. Most of the vehicles travel in convoy because if the car breaks down, and no rescue comes on time, then people will swiftly freeze to death. Many memorials are along the way for not only inmates who perished during its construction but also of people who froze to death or were attacked by wild animals while they were stuck in the mud.

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