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New Zealand Village Buried Under Massive Mud Volcano

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Te Wairoa, also known as the Buried Village, is a deserted village in New Zealand as a result of the Mount Tarawera volcanic eruption that affected the city, Rotorua. The event has been deemed New Zealand’s greatest natural disaster to date.

The Eruption Of Mount Tarawera

Painting by Charles Blomfield (Alexander Turnbull Library)
The eruption took place in the early hours of June 10, 1886. Shortly after midnight, villagers were woken up by a sequence of nearly 30 earthquakes. After several hours of persistent shocks, a final, much larger one was felt. This was then followed by the sounds of massive explosions, which caused many to flee the village. These explosions were only the beginning of Mount Tarawera’s deadly eruption, which reportedly lasted nearly four hours, ruthlessly covering the village with mud, ash, and rocks. At about 2:30 am, the volcano’s three peaks erupted, blasting smoke and ash thousands of meters into the sky in three columns, giving off an unusual lightning display. The final phase of the eruption consisted of a pyroclastic surge, which destroyed everything within a 6-kilometer radius of the volcano. Tephra, measuring approximately 2 cubic kilometers, erupted. Experts have estimated that about 120 to 150 deaths occurred from the catastrophe. Many of whom were people residing in villages closer to the volcano. Recent research, along with eyewitness accounts of the event, describes the eruption as resembling a pot of water boiled over.

The History Of Te Wairoa

By Michael Rogers – en:wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1334311
The ghost town of Te Wairoa is located close to the shore of Lake Tarawera. This is the largest out of a series of lakes surrounding Mount Tarawera in New Zealand’s North Island. The village was inhabited and founded by the Maori and Europeans nearly forty years before the disaster.

Effects Of The Eruption

The eruption impacted many of the surrounding bodies of water. It dramatically altered Lake Rotomahana in size after the disaster. This lake was the largest crater involved in the eruption that refilled with water, due to its enlargement over time. Mount Tarawera split after the eruption and created the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley. The land surrounding the mountain was covered in ash and debris that measured about 20 meters thick, covering and flattening forests and wildlife. Settlements surrounding the Ariki arm of Lake Tarawera have been deemed destroyed by the volcanic disaster. These settlements, known as the Ngati Rangitihi and Tuhourangi settlements, included Moura, Koutu, Kokotaia, Piripai, Pukekiore, and Otuapane. Other villages that were either buried or completely destroyed included Tapahoro, Te Wairoa, Totarariki, and Waingongoro. The people within these villages immediately became refugees in their own country for generations to follow.

Pink And White Terraces

The village was famously known for the mysterious Pink and White Terraces. These beautiful hot spring terraces were a major tourist attraction for reportedly being the largest silica sinter deposits on earth, attracting many visitors from overseas. The terraces were once regarded as the eighth natural wonder of the world but were destroyed during the eruption along with the village of Te Wairoa. The terraces formed over the course of thousands of years, resembling giant staircases. The pink terrace was mainly used for bathing. A research team recently rediscovery a part of the Pink and White Terraces after mapping the lake floor. The announcement of this monumental rediscovery in 2011 marked the 125th anniversary of Mt. Tarawera’s eruption in 1886.

Te Wairoa Today

The buried village is open to the public as a tourist attraction. Relics that have been discovered following the eruption have been put on display at a museum within the village. Excavated ruins can also be viewed along with a history of the eruption by the guides. The museum can be located on Tarawera Road, which is about 14 kilometers southeast of Rotorua. Hinemihi, a Maori meeting house that aided villagers during the eruption, can also be toured. The shelter was relocated in 1892 to Clandon Park as a garden building dedicated to William Onslow, 4th Earl of Onslow. He held the position of governor in New Zealand from 1889 to 1892. Urban legends have been relayed over the years involving claims of a phantom canoe that was witnessed eleven days before the eruption. A boat full of tourists leaving the terraces claimed to have seen a war canoe approach their boat, only to disappear shortly after. Strangely, nobody around the lake owned such a canoe, and they haven’t been able to track it down. Several letters from the tourists that experienced the event have been published, and tribal elders insist that it was a Waka Wairua. Legend tells that these spirit canoes signal doom. Many skeptics have challenged these claims, but the event remains a mystery.

History and Story of Sarah Winnemucca

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Perhaps you’ve heard of the native American woman activist, Sarah Winnemucca. As a child, her birth name was Thocmetony, which means “Shell Flower.” She was born near Humboldt Lake, Nevada, just around the Gold Rush period in 1844. Sarah was part of her tribe’s “royal family” because her father and grandfather were Northern Paiute chiefs.

Early Life

Her family moved to Stockton, California, when Sarah was six years old. As she grew older, Sarah went to live in a modernized white household. This is where she learned how to read and write English and also adopted her first name, Sarah. Eventually, she joined the San Jose convent school as a student but was forced to drop out after parents of white students complained about her presence. In 1860, a war broke out between Native Americans and the nearby settlers who were white. Sarah lost some of her family members during the war. After brief negotiations, the two conflicting groups finally came to an understanding and reached a truce.

Family and Marriage

Sarah got married to Edward Barlett, a lieutenant in the army, in January 1872. The two stayed married for four years but later divorced in 1876. Her second marriage was in 1878 when she tied the knot with Joseph Satwaller, but the two later divorced. In 1881, Sarah was serving under General Oliver Howard; in the course of her duties, she met lieutenant Lewis Hopkins whom she eventually got married to in San Francisco.

Bannock War

In 1878, a tribe called the Bannocks began attacking the whites. Sarah became a messenger and interpreter between the two forces. She also learned that the Bannock tribe had taken her father and his band hostage. Sarah played a crucial role in rescuing her father and the band from the enemy camp. After the Bannock war, her tribe was exiled to the Yakama reservation in Washington during a harsh winter. This move resulted in the death of many Paiutes. Sarah became very disturbed by this, and she began championing the rights of Paiutes. She delivered numerous lectures in Northern Nevada that mainly talked about the plight of the Paiutes.

Educator, author, and activist

She became devoted to improving her people’s lives and lobbied for Native American causes by writing and mailing dozens of letters to the capital. Eventually, alongside her father and brother, Sarah traveled to Washington, DC, to ask for the release of Paiutes from the Yakama reservation. However, Carl Schurz, the Secretary of the Interior, did not live up to the promises she made to Sarah. The Paiutes remained stuck in the Yakama reservation. Sarah then decided to mobilize her people by encouraging them to refuse to farm or build houses on the reservation. According to her, the passive resistance would indicate that the Paiutes were not willing to stay in the Yakama reservation for an extended period. Paiutes then began escaping the reservation in small groups.

Speaks Out for Her People

Around this time, Sarah began gaining national recognition. She was so headstrong and, at one time, even testified before Congress. Moreover, Sarah delivered lectures in churches, theaters, and parlors decrying the reservation system. It’s believed she gave more than 300 talks in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic cities. Sarah then became a popular critic of the reservation system and often appealed to the public through interviews and newspaper statements. Sarah wrote her autobiography, “Life among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims” in 1883, becoming the first native American Indian woman author. The autobiography mainly entailed the history of her tribe, culture, and letters from her supporters. The Peabody sisters published it, even though other publishers rejected her book, claiming it had “plain personalities.” Sarah started an American Indian school in 1885 using the funds she had received from private donations. The school was built on her brother’s ranch near Lovelock and was one of the first schools to offer native Americans the chance to receive a good education.

Final Days

Unfortunately, her school closed down four years later due to a lack of funding. After that, Sarah moved to her younger sister’s place at Lake Henry’s, Idaho. She died there in 1891, probably of Tuberculosis. Today Sarah Winnemucca is still recognized as a relentless Native American activist. Scholars posthumously inducted her into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, and in 2005 her bronze statue was unveiled in the US Capitol Statuary Hall.

The ‘Red Ghost’ of the American Midwest

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The story of The Red Ghost of the American Midwest is a morbid, grisly one. It is filled with the “demon beasts” and mysterious intrigue of 19th-century American territories.

A Gruesome Ghost Story

The tale begins in 1883 with two women on a ranch at Eagle Creek near the border of Arizona and New Mexico. The women were home alone with their children when one woman went out to the stream to collect water. A few minutes later, their dog started to bark, and the second woman went to the window. She heard terrible screams but was too terrified to do anything; she would later describe seeing something huge, red, and “ridden by a devil.” When the men of the house returned later that day and heard what happened, they went out to investigate. The first woman lay trampled and dead in the mud. Around her were huge hoof prints, bigger than a horse’s. Caught in the brush were strands of red hair. A few days later, two men who had come to sift for gold were camping by Chase’s Creek, several miles northeast of Eagle Creek. They were woken up to their tent crashing down around them. The men heard a scream and the battering of hooves. They saw the form of what looked like a gigantic horse scurrying away through the bushes. After they recounted the tale to the other miners at the mining camp, a few miners accompanied them back to the scene to take a look. They found enormous hoof prints and long, red hairs stuck to the bushes. The narrative of the “Red Ghost” spread throughout the area, told by miners and workers around the campfire. Many were skeptical by what they heard, and as campfire stories are wont to do, the tales began to grow taller and wilder. One report claimed that someone witnessed the beast devouring an entire grizzly bear. Another declared a man had chased the animal down just to see it vanish into thin air.

The Story Grows Stranger

However, a few months after the first attacks, the events would turn spookier than even the storytellers could imagine. A group of miners along the Verde River spotted the Ghost from afar. They began shooting at it, and the animal fled their gunfire. When it did, they noticed something shake loose and fall to the ground. Upon approaching the spot where it had fallen, they discovered a human skull with bits of flesh and hair. Several years later, the identity of the Ghost would finally be revealed. A rancher near Eagle Creek caught a large red animal grazing in his tomato patch, shot, and killed it. It was a camel. But the Ghost still had one last surprise up its sleeve. When the man examined the body of the dead camel, he saw it had pieces of rawhide wound around its back, shoulders, and under its tail. In concurrence with the skull, it appeared that someone was once belted to the camel and died on its back; the camel toted the dead remains around for years.

The History Behind the Tale

But why were camels even roaming around 19th century Arizona in the first place? Just before the Civil War started, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis implemented the importation of 75 camels into the United States. The idea was to employ them to survey the widespread land of the west, and to carry supplies between military outposts. Many of them were kept at Camp Verde in Texas and used for short trips to San Antonio. Eventually, two dozen camels were sent on a 1,200-mile expedition through the arid desert in the middle of the summer heat to California. They were able to accomplish what horses would never have been capable of. However, after only about a decade, most of the camels ended up being sold at auction. By the 1880s, the majority of camels had been set free to wander about the territory. How a man came to be strapped to a camel and destined to a deadly fate remains to be seen.

Western Fact or Fiction?

Just how much of this macabre tale is fact and how much is fiction will perhaps forever be unknown, but this much is true: the story of The Red Ghost is one of the most exhilarating ghost stories emblematic of the American West.

Story of Jane Rebecca Yorke

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Jane Rebecca York is most widely recognized for being the last person convicted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. Parliament in the Kingdom of Great Britain passed the law to prohibit any person from practicing witchcraft. If found guilty, instead of being hunted or executed for his or her crimes, the person would be sentenced to imprisonment. The maximum prison sentence was one year. This act ultimately marked the end of the witch trials of the early modern period.

Jane, The Medium

Jane Rebecca Yorke was born on January 27, 1872, in England. She was a medium who practiced in Forest Gate, east London. Several witnesses claimed to have seen her conducting seances and summoning spirits of those she encountered on the streets. Her conduct in public as a medium was not necessarily pleasant, and she was known to cause a ruckus. Complaints were commonly made to the police that she was cheating the public and capitalizing on wartime fears. This was due to Jane’s consistent use of war references during her seances. Other witnesses claimed to have seen her frighten a woman on the streets by telling her that she saw the spirit of her dead brother. She also warned the woman that her husband’s life was in danger. This ultimately made the woman hysterical, causing witnesses to the exchange to become distrustful and fearful of Jane. Aside from her direct interactions with the spirits of the people she met in public, she also made other predictions and assertions. One of her later magical claims was that she had the ability to summon widely recognized spirits including Queen Victoria with the help of her Zulu spirit guide. The Zulu are an ethnic group from South Africa primarily known for their ceremonial practices and unique belief systems. She also predicted that the Second World War would end in October of 1944. This prediction was proven untrue. The war ended in September of 1945.

Investigation Against Jane

Once the police were informed of her practices, they decided to go undercover and pretend to be clients. They formulated a plan to ask about non-existent family members to catch her in the act of fraudulent storytelling and encounters with the dead. During these seances with the undercover police, Jane made detailed claims that these non-existent family members were burned alive during a bombing mission. Jane states that she was provided with this information by her spirit guide.

Trial and Sentencing

Law enforcement officials and the general public eventually caught on to her false narratives. She was officially arrested by police in July of 1944, her trial set in September of that same year. The trial took place at London’s Central Criminal Court. She was found guilty on seven counts according to the Witchcraft Act of 1735. She was given a very light sentence due to her old age — she was 72 at the time of her conviction. She was sentenced to good behavior for three years and fined five pounds, as long as she no longer performed seances or scared the public with her vivid storytelling.

Was Jane Actually a Medium?

It is unclear whether Jane was a real medium due to the countless witnesses disproving her claims. What makes her story particularly conflicting are the comparisons of witness accounts between her story and those who preceded her. Helen Duncan was the last person imprisoned under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. She was also a medium and frequently practiced her clairvoyant ability. What makes Helen and Jane’s stories different are witness accounts supporting Helen’s authenticity. The most unique aspect of Helen’s case was the use of ectoplasm during seances. Ectoplasm is described as a substance exuded from the ghostly body. However, it was still difficult to identify the substance as real due to lack of research and understanding at the time. Unlike Helen, Jane had no concrete evidence to support her claims, leaving many to believe that she was a fake. Even to this day, little is known about unique spiritual abilities and research is still being conducted to study the phenomenon.

Aftermath

Jane’s trial marks the end of the western world’s witchcraft trials. The Witchcraft Act of 1735 was eventually phased out in the 1950s.

Howard Johnson’s, Host of the Bygone Ways

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Howard-Johnson-abandoned-restaurant-Afton-Mountain-closed-in-1998
For more than seven decades American roads were dotted with the familiar orange roof and blue cupola of the ubiquitous Howard Johnson’s restaurants and Motor Lodges.  The company’s founder and namesake was a grade school dropout who became a franchising pioneer and introduced the restaurant industry to centralized purchasing.  Johnson repeated his formula with motor lodges, creating one of the world’s largest hotel chains. In 1965 Howard Johnson’s sales exceeded the combined sales of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.  By 1979 the “Host of the Highways” had become the largest hospitality company in America, with more than 1,000 restaurants and 500 motor lodges.  But the company saw a decline of its rule over the roadways in the 1970s after a series of events destroyed the company’s earnings. Over the last decade and under new ownership “HoJo” hotels have thrived, but the final dozen restaurants were left to rot.  Today all have closed, except one. 

Story of Chang and Eng Bunker – Conjoined Twins

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Chang and Eng Bunker were Siamese-American conjoined twins born on May 11, 1811. They are most widely recognized for coining the phrase “Siamese twins,” which is generally used to this day to refer to conjoined twins. Little was known at the time about conjoined twins, and because of its rarity, they were two of the most widely studied humans within the 19th century.

The “First” Siamese Twins

Chang and Eng were born in what we today know as Thailand. They were joined at the sternum by a band of flesh and cartilage about five inches long and nine inches in circumference. Their livers were also connected. Upon consulting various medical professionals, the brothers were urged not to attempt surgery to separate them. At the time, medical technology was not advanced enough for a successful operation.

Their Life in the United States

Chang and Eng left for the United States in 1829. They were only seventeen years old. Their popularity skyrocketed after they became heavily involved in “freak shows.” However, after three years of consistent involvement in shows, they decided to tour on their own. They quickly found financial success. Upon their departure, they expressed that their managers had been cheating them of money. The brothers often performed athletic stunts, including running, somersaults, and swimming. They also played checkers and performed parlor tricks. Tickets for the show cost about 25 cents, and souvenirs, such as pamphlets or drawings of the men, were often sold at the shows as well.

The Pre-/Post-Civil War Years

In 1839, after nearly a decade of touring, the brothers decided to settle down and quit their current lifestyle. They moved to North Carolina and became citizens of the United States. Chang and Eng married local sisters and raised 21 children. Many of their children ultimately ended up touring with their fathers once they came out of “retirement.” The brothers even owned slaves in North Carolina up until the end of the Civil War. In the years following the war, they lost their slaves and a portion of their wealth as well. This is ultimately what caused the brothers to continue touring. However, many audiences in the north were unsupportive of them due to their slaveholding practices in the south. To combat this continuous criticism, the brothers presented themselves as old men with many children who simply supported their state during the period. They were even outspoken about several of their sons who were harmed during the war, even though they were part of the Confederate States Army. This made the audience angry. Many believed the men were attempting to take advantage of them.

Health Problems

In 1870, Chang and Eng visited Russia and Germany with plans to explore other parts of Europe. They returned home soon after to avoid the Franco-Prussian War. During the journey back home, Chang suffered a stroke on the ship and his right side became paralyzed. As a result of Chang’s medical condition, the brothers decided to retire from touring altogether, even though Eng remained in good health. Chang’s condition continually deteriorated and he began drinking heavily. Eventually, his right leg was slung. Chang developed bronchitis four years later in January 1874. He was urged by medical professionals to stay indoors to avoid the cold weather. Still, against this advice, the brothers traveled to Eng’s house on January 15, further exposing Chang to harsh weather. The next day, Chang appeared to have recovered from the previous day of travel. However, that same night he found himself having difficulty breathing, so they decided to sit upright in a chair for the night. Eng quickly became paranoid about spending nearly an entire week with his brother being ill and urged Chang to lay in bed instead.

The Death of Chang and Eng

Early the next morning, one of Eng’s sons came to check on the twins. He found Chang dead beside his brother. Still alive, Eng expressed that he must go also. About two hours after Chang’s death, Eng passed away before the family physician could assist him. Chang and Eng’s body was autopsied and researched following their death. They are buried in North Carolina. Their fused livers are currently displayed in a jar at Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Secret Life of H.G Wells

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Herbert George Wells, the internationally celebrated English writer, was born in the Bromley area of Kent, England, on September 21st, 1866. He was a renowned novelist, historian, teacher, and journalist. HG Wells penned dozens of artistic works, including short stories, novels, autobiographies, and biographies. The author was particularly acclaimed as a gifted writer of science fiction. Well’s book, The Time Machine, is a highly acclaimed and phenomenal work that catapulted him to literary fame. Other famous titles by Wells include War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. The renowned author, who was dubbed as “the Shakespearean father of science fiction,” died in 1946. Despite his fame as a distinguished man of letters, the secret life of HG Wells, particularly his erotic liaisons with a coterie of women, is both controversial and shocking.

The Shocking Sex Life of HG Wells

HG Wells was recently unveiled as a determined, unrelenting, and unapologetic advocate of free love. As Wells himself famously said towards the end of his life, “I have pleased myself tremendously through romantic deeds.., every iota of sexual impulse in me… has fully expressed itself. Let me admit it, I am immoral and have preyed on admirers.” Interestingly, a newly launched biography reveals some graphic, sordid details about the author’s intriguing sex life. HG Wells has been described as an irresistible magnet that strongly attracted women. Indeed, most of the women’s adulterous appetites drove them to follow him passionately, even if it meant they would die. Much of the prolific writer’s erotic life was generally unknown by his adoring fans. His extraordinary literary exploits were more than matched by his overactive and unusual sexual thirst that led him to dally in fascinating sexual encounters with many young women. Some of them laid out elaborate love traps that would catch the all-too-willing scholar-turned sexual predator. At one time, Wells shockingly had sex with a woman within a church building. He would later have more sex with her in the nearby bushes.

The “Unattractive” Romantic Lover

It did not deter that Wells was apparently sexually unappealing, going by his physical attributes. His appearance was even described as “unprepossessing.”  The renowned writer is also described as “a short man with a high-pitched voice and a tubby in tow.” Regardless, Wells proved to be the undisputed champion of indiscriminate love escapades that paired him with an amazing multiplicity of partners. Never mind that he was already married to two wives. One of Wells’ first documented secret lovers was Amber Reeves. The young lady was the daughter of New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the UK, William Reeves. When they first met, Amber was barely 18. She studied at the Cambridge, Newnham College, was brilliant and intellectually gifted. She was a great admirer of HG Wells and enthusiastically shared his philosophies. Interestingly, Wells already had three other lovers, Rosamund Bland, Dorothy Richardson, and Violet Hunt. Regardless, the relationship between Wells and Amber gradually grew intimate, with the two enjoying a peculiar closeness. Wells described the illicit affair as “romantically spontaneous,” suggesting that Amber lured him with her youthful magnetic enthusiasm.

Sex in a Church Building

The two rented a room near the Victoria Station in Warwick. This became the love birds’ ever-cozy nest. They went for long walks and ate at restaurants.  Sometimes Wells made love to Amber in the bushy, windy area near Hythe. They even once made love in a local church building. Of course, the affair soon became a scandal with Amber revealing the matter to her mother, lecturers, and fellow students. When Amber demanded to have a child with him, Wells was more than ready. He later sent some letters addressing the newborn as “Dear Pup,” assuring it of “daddy’s love.” Years later, the author admitted “feeling happiness and unregretted exhilaration as well as relishing a sense of sin” in these illicit affairs.

The Russian Spy Lover

In the 1930s, HG wells got involved in yet another steaming love affair with Moura Benckendorf, who was the official interpreter of Maxim Gorky, a Russian writer. Moura became one of Wells’ most enigmatic lovers. As author Andrea Lynn revealed, Moura feigned love to gain access to HG Well’s high circle of friends. In her book, the “Shadow Lovers,” Lynn says that through Moura, Wells met Benard Shaw Sydney, and Beatrice Wells, and Stalin. After this meeting, the communist dictator received international praise. Wells thought of Moura as an elusive woman of surprises. She once pretended to be pregnant with him. Later still, HG Wells had a fling with Odette Keun, a Dutch writer who greatly admired him. She famously lured Wells into a room that was ready and prepared for sex. Of course, Wells could not resist. The pair soon moved into Well’s winter abode in France to enjoy a brief romantic escapade.

Story of Abandoned Soviet Space Shuttles in the Kazakh Steppe

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In 2017, space enthusiasts were thrilled by the news that two Soviet-era space crafts had been found abandoned in the Kazakhstan desert region. The exciting discovery sparked speculation and curiosity regarding what the Russian space agency planned to do with the cherished remains of the vintage space shuttles. The twin crafts were hidden in a lonely hangar in the Kazakh steppe’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. The valued vehicles were ‘busy’ collecting dust, rust, and bird droppings. The Baikonur Cosmodrome is an active spaceport located approximately 1,500 miles southwest of Moscow. To date, the Russians still use the Cosmodrome to send or retrieve astronauts who visit the International Space Station.

Space Race Shuttles

Image credit: David de Rueda
The intriguing story of the twin shuttles began sometime in the 1970s and 1980s when space scientists in the former USSR designed and built them. This scheme constituted a part of the space race that pitted the then superpowers (USA and USSR) in a thrilling battle for dominance of outer space. The twin Soviet vehicles were meant to compete with the winged orbiters designed by the US.

Structurally Unique Shuttles

Image credit: Caters News Agency
The two surviving vehicles found were a shuttle orbiter and a Buran orbiter. Though referred to as twin shuttles, there are significant structural differences. The shutter orbiter, for instance, was designed with its own engine. It also had a massive rocket that worked as the fuel tank. Its counterpart, the Buran shuttle, was not designed with a typical engine. Instead, as part of the Buran shuttle design series, it was attached to a massive rocket named Energia. These specially designed vehicles gave the Soviets greater leeway in sending vessels to space. Moreover, the Buran was designed with emergency eject seats that served all crew members. The Buran shuttle was deemed to be relatively safer compared to their US relatives.

The Buran Made History, but Never Fully Launched

Initially, the Buran shuttles built by the Soviets were designed to transport heavy cargo into space. This cargo was meant to build sophisticated weapons as well as space stations. The successful launch of one of the Buran crafts in 1988 showed the world just how superior a shuttle the country crafted. The ultimate goal of the space program, however, was never quite achieved. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the end of the Cold War, and the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, the Soviet shuttle program came to a halt. In 1993, Russian President Boris Yeltsin decided to cancel the Soviet space program in its entirety. The Buran became the sole Soviet orbiter to ever leave the earth. Moreover, the shuttle that was launched was eventually destroyed in 2002. This happened soon after its hangar collapsed following a massive earthquake that killed eight people. The shuttles that remain in the Baikonur hanger are a representation of not only the political competition between two nations, but also the attempt to send humans to the outer space and, perhaps, conquer the universe. The hangar is not open to the public but attracts hordes of enthusiasts and explorers nonetheless.

Shuttles Immortalized

A German museum almost purchased the two shuttles for $12 million, but the cost of transporting them was too much. The deal fell through. Instead, they remain in the hangar, left for curious photographers to immortalize. In 2015, photographer Ralph Mirebs made his way into the cherished complex, taking pictures of the forgotten relics of a lost space race. Mirebs courageously hiked a 24-mile stretch into the Kazakh desert. He eventually entered the site, spending three nights surrounded by the decaying space vehicles. A few months ago, the renowned Russian film director and photographer, Alexander Kaunas, accompanied by an aide, took a risky journey of discovery, desiring to explore these abandoned monuments.
Image credit: RSC Energia
Visiting the monument just next to the shuttle hangar, you will discover a lonely cavern. This cavern holds the relics of the huge Energia rocket, which once fired the Buran shuttles into space. Will the precious shuttles be left to rot? Will they fall victim to neglect in their desert hangar? These shuttles are just two amongst many others that sit and wait for a museum to take them in. Other abandoned space vessels have been placed on display in various strategic places, including Moscow Gorky Park and the Sydney Summer Olympics.