Lost Under Water for 25 Years, This Destroyed Town Now Has One Resident

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
June 17 2014 1:14 PM

Lost Under Water for 25 Years, Villa Epecuén Now Has One Resident

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

You are looking at the remains of a once-thriving Argentinian vacation village. Villa Epecuén, located a six-hour drive southwest of Buenos Aires, was established in the 1920s on the shores of salty Lake Epecuén. Vacationers would journey to the village by train to soak in the relaxing waters of the lake, which was believed to confer many health benefits due to its high salinity.

The little resort town grew to accommodate around 5,000 people, and catered to their needs with 280 businesses. Then came the rains. From 1980, changing weather patterns resulted in unusually high rainfall over the next five years. On November 10, 1985, the lake dam broke, causing a slow but devastating flood.

Advertisement

For almost 25 years, Villa Epecuén was buried under 33 feet of water. Then, the weather changed again. In 2009, dry conditions in Argentina resulted in the gradual evaporation of the water covering the town. Villa Epecuén rose again: a bleached, mangled, corroded version of its former self.

Only one former resident returned to the village: 84-year-old Pablo Novak, who spent his youth in Villa Epecuén along with his parents and 11 siblings. Now the sole inhabitant of the deserted town, Novak spends his days relaxing in his simple home and riding his rusted bike among the broken buildings, rusted carcasses of cars, and scattered bricks—some of which he made himself. A 2013 short documentary, Pablo's Villa, sheds more light on his remarkable situation:


View Lago Epecuén in a larger map

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loath NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 17 2014 4:08 PM How Teflon Is Vladimir Putin's Popularity?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 17 2014 4:10 PM Can These Women Fix the NFL? Or will the NFL fix them?
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 4:07 PM Kern Your Enthusiasm: The Genius of Jenson’s Roman
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?