Originally built for use in the 1930’s by Japan, it was later seized by Russians and used during World War II, powered by nuclear power. During the 1990’s and the fall of communism, the lighthouse became vacant and has since been abandoned.
The ghost of the lighthouse
The Aniva lighthouse was built by the Japanese in 1939, on a chunk of rock off the southern coast of Sakhalin, a thin 950 km long island situated just east of Russia, between the sea of Japan and Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk. The island was largely uninhabited until the 1800’s, when both Japan and Russia became interested in annexing it; the Russians for use as a penal colony.
That led to years of conflict, retrenchment, and buildup of military forces, with both nations agreeing to split the island across the 50th parallel. A ring of light-houses were built on Sakhalin’s rocky coast to signal incoming troop carriers and merchant ships.
After around 50 years of sharing the island, the Russians annexed it all in the Second World War, causing some half a million Japanese to be evacuated back to Hokkaido. In 1951 the Treaty of San Francisco was signed, officially handing tenure of the island over to the Russians, though plenty of territorial issues remaining smaller islands.
Now the Aniva lighthouse is abandoned. Its seven stories of diesel engines, accumulator rooms, keeper’s living spaces, radio facilities, storerooms, large clockwork pendulum (for regulating optical system), and 300kg pool of mercury (as a low friction rotation surface for the lens) are still, and echo only with the crash of waves against the surrounding crags.