According to the first snow mountaineers’ recollections, the first winter was especially difficult – tents, potbelly stoves, the temperature dropped below zero by morning. They washed their faces with ice water, the toilet was outside.
At the same time, dry law was declared for the first period of construction. Alcohol was allowed only in case of emergency or on birthdays with the permission of three bosses (according to the passport).
For two years the dry law was in force, and without any police in the two thousandth village there were no fights, no criminality.
In the early years, families were banned. Here is how the Ust-Hantai hydroelectric power station construction department head Victor Borisov recalled this:
“In the first year of construction, there was an order prohibiting those recruited to bring women and children with them, since there were neither housing conditions nor a proper set of products. But our people are omnipresent, they are not afraid of anything. So by January 1964, walking through the tents and checking the living conditions of people, I found in some of them fenced-off boxes for families where workers lived with their wives and children.
When talking with them, it turned out that many wives were ready to share any difficulties with their husbands, some were afraid that the husband would leave for another woman, and others had nowhere to live on the mainland. I had to take additional measures, up to the threat of dismissal of the perpetrators. But this measure did not help either. By the spring of 1964, almost all the tents were filled with families”.
Five years later, Snezhnogorsk became a full-fledged settlement. On the banks of the Hantaika river there were a hundred logged two-story houses, the first brick walls were built, and two bridges were constructed across the river at once.
In the History Spot photo project previous publication we told that in 1959 the swimming pool became a gift to all Norilsk residents, and that was the first experience of building such a facility in the Arctic.
Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive