Abandoned Lighthouses 8. Aniva Rock

Mike GristLighthouses, Russia, World Ruins 21 Comments

The Aniva lighthouse was built by the Japanese in 1939, on a chunk of rock off the southern coast of Sakhalin, a thin 950 km long island situated just east of Russia, between the sea of Japan and Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk. The island was largely uninhabited until the 1800’s, when both Japan and Russia became interested in annexing it; the Russians for use as a penal colony.

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Almost a fairy-tale castle on the water.

That led to years of conflict, retrenchment, and buildup of military forces, with both nations agreeing to split the island across the 50th parallel. A ring of light-houses were built on Sakhalin’s rocky coast to signal incoming troop carriers and merchant ships.

After around 50 years of sharing the island, the Russians annexed it all in the Second World War, causing some half a million Japanese to be evacuated back to Hokkaido. In 1951 the Treaty of San Francisco was signed, officially handing tenure of the island over to the Russians, though plenty of territorial issues remain over surrounding, smaller islands.

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A dangerous and rocky approach. Building the lighthouse required extensive blasting of the rock it sits upon to make a level surface.

Now the Aniva lighthouse is abandoned. Its seven stories of diesel engines, accumulator rooms, keeper’s living spaces, radio facilities, storerooms, large clockwork pendulum (for regulating optical system), and 300kg pool of mercury (as a low friction rotation surface for the lens) are still, and echo only with the crash of waves against the surrounding crags.

– Sakhalin Lighthouses

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Now rusted and swarmed by gulls.

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Candy-pole heyday.

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Isolated and perilous.

I read about this location first on English-Russia. There are interior photos taken by an urban explorer claiming that the lighthouse was radioactive, having been powered by a small nuclear unit that had breached. Though looking at the size of the structure and the total lack of evidence elsewhere on the net (that surely a breached nuclear site would attract), I rather doubt its true. It is dramatic though.

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Apparently this reads Radioactive. Surely someone’s idea of a joke.

Text Sources- English-Russia, Sakhalin Lighthouses


Dead Sentinels: 10 abandoned lighthouses

1. Rubjerg-Knude, Denmark

2. Talacre, Wales

Construction of the Rubjerg-Knude lighthouse in Jutland, Denmark straddled the last two centuries, beginning in 1899 and finishing in 1900. The Talacre lighthouse, officially titled ‘Point of Ayr’, has stood on Talacre Beach in various incarnations since 1776, watching over ships make the trek across Liverpool Bay from the Welsh town of Lllandudno.

3. Tillamook, USA

4. Mogadishu, Somalia

The Tillamook Rock Light was built in 1881 on a rock off Oregon coast. It was born in blood; with its grand opening overshadowed by a nearby shipwreck just days before its guardian gas-light was lit. The crumbling Italian lighthouse perched on the edge of Mogadishu’s Old Harbor was built over a century ago, and abandoned some 20 years ago as trade dried up to the failed state of Somalia.

5. Grand Cay, Bahamas

6. Klein Curacao, Caribbean

The lighthouse on Great Isaac Cay, a small island in the Bahamas around 20 miles north-east of the Bimini Islands, was built in 1859 to guide trade-ships carrying exports of sun-dried sea salt from Inagua The Klein Curacao (‘Little Curacao’) lighthouse was first built in 1850, on a tiny spit of land 11km off the southeastern tip of Curacao in the Caribbean Sea.

7. Capo d’Otranto, Italy

8. Aniva Rock, Russia

The Capo d’Otranto lighthouse was built in 1867, situated at Italy’s most eastern point, marking the point where the Ionian and Adriatic Seas meet. It was abandoned in the 1970’s The Aniva lighthouse was built by the Japanese in 1939, on a chunk of rock off the southern coast of Sakhalin, a thin 950 km long island situated just east of Russia.

9. Ship John Shoal, USA

10. Fish Fluke Point, Canada

Construction of the Ship John Shoal Lighthouse in Delaware Bay took 27 years, from a decision by the US Congress in 1850 that a light was needed through various incarnations. The Grand Harbor Lighthouse on Fish Fluke Point, Ross Island, was built in 1879, a square wooden tower 32-feet tall with the Keeper’s dwelling attached.

See many more abandoned places in the ruins gallery.

Explore more Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:

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Comments 21

  1. Weird idea making a lighthouse that is nuclear powered, I guess a holdover from the days when the Russians wanted everything to be nuclear, and maybe didn’t really understand the environmental consequences like we do today.
    Scary stuff.

  2. I think the charm of an nuclear lighthouse was that it would provide the automated station with power for years or decades without visits for refueling. Fine in theory, but obviously you have to commit to occasional visits for ordinary maintenance to keep the unit running safely.

  3. I guess maintenance was never part of any of the 5 year plans after it’s conversion to nuclear power…

    And MJG, while I like the story and accompanying photos, it doesn’t really fit the overarching environmental meta-narrative. I mean, remember, it’s the eeeeeeevil US that are the polluters and ruination of the planet. Everyone knows that the Riussians, Chinese, and Indians are, you know, inconsequential when it comes to planetary pollution…


    Sriously, I really enjoyed this piece…

  4. “Now its atomic casements have been splintered by vandals and it spews radioactivity into the sea.”

    Really? And you know this to be true how, exactly?

    Get a grip, dude.

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    Can- Probably the Russians didn’t care about nuclear damage. I imagine them to have been on a war footing basically all this time, caring only about getting things done and showing force. Nuclear automation would have no doubt appealed.

    David- After they stopped rowing over Sakhalin island with the Japanese, probably the need to send ships there diminished, so the need for light-houses diminished too. That’s my theory.

    Bob- I don’t know about the over-arching meta-narrative, but am glad you liked the piece.

    Parabellum- Short of going there myself with a rad-suit and Geiger counter, I’m not sure how I could really know it to be true. I read it on various web-sites and went with it. It sounds cool.

  6. Ignore the barb and Parabellum’s question is a fair one. I, for one, would not want to tangle with atomic-casement-splintering vandals. You might be able to use them in a story, though, Mike.

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  8. cut the crap, people! been there myself and never seen this lighthouse. if it was true this would be known by people, spread by media, etc.
    to me handwritten word “radiation” only means smbd pulled a nice joke… we need facts, right?!

  9. Post

    Steve- Thanks for wading in, great to have your input.

    atomic-casement-splintering vandal- You’ve been there, and never saw the lighthouse. Hmm. You toured every crag off Sakhalin? Seems unlikely. Check the image links and see multiple sites referencing it along with details. All made up?

  10. i love your picture,
    i have great interest in RTG and your picture are perfect for an exposé !
    the gray scale pitcure remenber me some phantomatic lightouse !

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  12. Pingback: Birth of a Ghost Town « Bob Vardeman's Blog

  13. I think the best abandoned lighthouse ever is the Morris Island Lighthouse off Charleston SC. It is majestic and ever changing with the tides and seasons. It should be on your top 10 list.

  14. Would any of the abandoned lighthouses let someone live there? I have had a long time fascination
    for lighthouses and think they are majestic. Would love to live in one.

  15. The “RADIOACTIVE” graffito is no joke. That was one many lighthouses built (or equipped as in Aniva’s case) by the USSR with radioisotope thermoelectric generators, usually using Strontium 90. Don’t confuse a nuclear power plant with a small RTG, duh.

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