While researching the economic feasibility of a Bering Strait tunnel, we came across this recent dispatch from the Edmonton Journal. In addition to alerting us to the manner in which the residents of Little Diomede were used as Cold War pawns, the article made us aware of the callow manner in which the Russian coal industry tends to treat its laborers. Case in point:
On a cold January day in 1998, nearly 1,000 residents of the Russian coal-mining town of Pyramiden were surprised by the arrival of a ship. Representatives from Arctikugol Trust, owner of the mine, told everyone to get on board and leave everything behind but their basic belongings. In less than 48 hours, Pyramiden was a ghost town.
The sudden abandonment of Pyramiden created quite the obscure post-Soviet tourist destination, though—one roughly on par with the ravaged city of Agdam. Check out some contemporary photos and eyewitness accounts of the desolation here and here.
Also, slightly related: Little Diomede has a school. And it has Hawaiian shirt day.