The town of 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. 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.
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