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

Atlas Obscura
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

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 21 2014 9:18 AM Oh, Boy Prudie counsels a letter writer whose sister dresses her 4-year-old son in pink tutus.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:25 AM The Brilliant Fake Novels of Listen Up Philip
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 9:39 AM The International-Student Revolving Door Foreign students shouldn’t have to prove they’ll go home after graduating to get a visa.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.