The Trapped Village

Let the sign speak for itself:

As you can see, we are in a small village between Finland and Russia. In the 1850’s it was situated on the shores of a large lake and otherwise surrounded by fields.

First they built a channel, not a very large one, but important for the economy. It ran from the south side of the village, and suddenly the village was situated on a cape.

Almost a hundred years later came the Second World War, which resulted in a bitter peace and Finland ceding land to the Soviet Union. The border ran right next to the village, so close, that if you leave the church and cross the street, you’ll be fined. Now the village was on a cape cut off from two sides by the border and the channel.

In the 1960’s they re-routed the channel to the north side of the village. The old channel was filled so that a road connection was built, but now the village was on a cape connected to the land just by a narrow isthmus.

And so came the eighties with lesser tension. Traffic between Soviet Union and Finland increased, the connection through the village was way too small and unsafe.

The solution? They built a road between the village, the channel and the lake, built a new border guard station on the shores and now the village was squeezed between roads, Soviet Union and the tiny bit of the old channel on the southeast side.

But the Soviet Union fell, the border opened, and tourists flocked through. The border crossing was way too small, so in the early 2000’s they built a new one on the south side of the village thus cutting it from all surroundings by man-made obstacles. Now there is a major road on the south side, an obsolete road running from the southwest all the way to the east side where the obsolete border guard station is, and the rest is closed off by Russia.

So what happened with the old border guard station, which was in operation just under 20 years?

Nothing.

Everything had stood still since the crossing was moved to the other side of the village. The buildings were sold to a local entrepreneur in 2014, but the business idea had perhaps not materialized yet.

I am waiting for something to happen, and of course I’d like to see the building find a new lease of life. However I’m not holding my breath.

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