Elizaveta Urvantseva traveled alone from Norilsk to Krasnoyarsk

Elizaveta Urvantseva traveled alone from Norilsk to Krasnoyarsk

April 06, 2023

In the history of Norilsk, Nikolay Urvantsev’s wife and colleague is remembered as Norilsk woman No. 1. She had amazing acts of courage.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The work of the geological expedition of 1923 on the future Norilsk site was coming to an end. But Moscow never sent wages for the workers, and they threatened to stop exploration. You need to go to the capital and literally knock out money. Who should go? Everyone is busy with exploration work. The leader’s wife, Elizaveta Urvantseva, went alone.

At first she traveled on deer to Dudinka. It was already May, the snow had settled under the sleds. Went at night when it was a bit cold. There was no news about the Krasnoyarsk steamers in Dudinka, it was not known when they would come. After the ice drift on the Yenisey, Urvantseva went by boat to Turuhansk. From there she got to Nizhneimbatsky, and there were no boats there, even the smallest ones:

“I learned that sometimes, in case of emergency, they go up the Yenisey on dogs. That is, dogs are harnessed to a string, they run along the shore, pulling the boat. And the owner sits at the stern and rules. In order not to wait, I decided to sail this way. They gave me a boat, but only one dog was found among the sleds. A hundred kilometers later, in Verhneimbatsky, topographers photographed me”.

At the end of July, Urvantseva took a train from Krasnoyarsk to Moscow, but that was not the most difficult. It turned out that there was no money. In Petrograd, at a meeting of the Geological Committee, Elizaveta Ivanovna presented an estimate of the settlement with the workers. But there was no money. She could not stand it – she showed a photograph of how she traveled along the Yenisey in a boat drawn by one dog, and began to tell what it was like to work in the Norilsk tundra in winter, in forty-degree frosts. And they still found the necessary amount for the Norilsk people.

Urvantseva took a fast train back to Krasnoyarsk. Money – a huge sum for those times, and even part of it in silver – she carried in a laundry basket.

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we told about how Nikolay Urvantsev was deleted from the history of geographical research.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

April 06, 2023

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