Celebrating Over 50 Years of Travel, Travel by Ship & Travel Photography
The Soviets had an Arctic settlement called Barentzburg, used for coal, weather predicting & rather expectedly some deeply concealed military tracking. It was also bleak, all but forbidding, even sinister in ways: chilly, gusty winds and the feel of frost even in high summer. It was also the domain of suspicious, clawed Terns.
But by the time we visited in August 1979, aboard a Norwegian mail & supply boat, the Harald Jarl, Soviet miners and those "technicians" had long since departed. We were delivering the main, food & other supplies to the few Norwegians that now inhabited the place. But overall, the place was still all but desolate, silent, in deep abandonement. You could "hear" the chilly silence.
In this view, there are the derelict tracks for the gondola train cars that made the relays with coal from the mountainside mines to ships waiting in the small harbor below. Soviet propaganda, in much faded red letters, was still spelled across the stones, urging something like "hard work for the state". But the steely-eyed Terns watched me intently as I took this picture, waiting to "attack" if I disturbed their summer nestings along the otherwise very narrow roadside. They would swoop, like Kamikaze pilots, with extended fangs just 2 to 3 feet above the head of any intruder who ventured too close.