Route 8: The Zero Point

Route 8: The Zero Point

July 29, 2020

The astronomical sign became the starting point for creating a topographic map of the Norilsk industrial district.

The Zero Point is the place where Norilsk construction began, the absolute reference point of the territory. In appearance, the Zero Point is not particularly remarkable and more than modest. One might even say unfairly unprepossessing. It is too far from looking like a monument of architectural significance. At the same time, for travelers and people who are keenly interested in the formation of the Norilsk industrial region, the Zero Point is of enormous importance. Historically, the place is considered the first triangulation (astronomical) point near Rudnaya Mountain, which has survived to this day.

The first researchers of the Taimyr ores (Schmidt, Middendorf, Lopatin) strongly recommended the development of the local deposit with the attraction of large-scale state investments. Until the October Revolution, these projects remained unrealized. But after it, the construction proceeded at an accelerated pace – streets and lanes began to appear, named in accordance with the era.

In 1919, under the government of Kolchak, a committee for the Northern Sea Route was created. At the same time, several scientific expeditions went to the North, to the Norilsk region. Botanical, hydrographic and geological exploration in particular. The first scientists and settlers gave names to the mountains, where a “garden city” would arise later.

Thus, the Bear Rock became Schmidt’s Mountain – in honor of the first scientist who visited these places. The mountain a little to the east, where the Sotnikov’s adits were located, was nicknamed Rudnaya (Ore Mount), and the gorge and stream separating them became Ugolny (Coal). The mountain to the west was named Nadezhda, the mountain to the east of Rudnaya became Bariernaya (Boarding Mount), and the valley between them turned into Bear Stream. The mountain in the southeast was nicknamed Goodchikha, etc.

Nikolay Urvantsev in 1921-1922 continued the exploration of the Norilsk deposits. It was his expedition that installed the Zero Point memorial sign in 1920.

A year later, in 1921, the First House of Norilsk immediately appeared. Eight members of the expedition remained for the first polar winter in it.

Both of these structures – the First House and the Zero Point – were undoubtedly connected by “one umbilical cord”. They were divided later, now each of them lives a separate life: the house is in the park near the city museum, the Zero Point stone with the sign is near the bridge, in the industrial zone of the Old Town, which was previously called Gorstroy.

The Zero Point was not marked for a long time. As historians write, “this unforgivable omission for the city was eliminated by the students of the ProfStart program. As part of the Norilsk Summer Academy business game, they erected the Zero Point memorial sign a little farther than the historic site.

The Zero Point memorial sign in its recreated form appeared on September 3, 2011. It is a stone block with a board fixed on it, on which it is written: “In the summer of 1920, the participants of the geological exploration expedition led by Nikolay Nikolayevich Urvantsev set up the astronomical sign at the foot of Mount Rudnaya – the Zero Point, which became the starting point for creating a topographic map of the Norilsk industrial district”.

Today, the stone is a symbol of urban history, the evidence of the place’s importance. Near the stone, at one of the turns to the Old Town, on Gornaya Street, there is an old (more than half a century old) and still operating simple bus stop.

For other routes in our guide, see the Must see and must do tag.

Text: Marina Horoshevskaya, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko, Marina Lystseva and archives of Norilsk residents

July 29, 2020

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