Could you imagine living in rough terrain where temperatures are often below freezing? One Russian family braved traveling to a remote location within the Siberian taiga and managed to survive for decades. After fleeing religious persecution, the Lykov family eked out an existence subsisting on their faith and living off of the land.

Forced to flee for faith and freedom

Let’s remember, Siberia can be brutal in the winter. So what would make someone take their family to live 150 miles away from the nearest sign of human civilization? Death. Imprisonment. Exile.

Carol Kim

It was the year 1936 when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia. Anyone who was an Old Believer, practicing a Russian Orthodox faith that went untouched by any amendments since the 17th century, was subject to cruelty and danger.

Surviving harshness and gnawing hunger

As Peter the Great sought to usher Russia into modern accepted behaviors and practices, Old Believers would be taxed for their beards or were shaved involuntarily. Practicing Christians were under attack, and many chose to flee rather than suffer the directives of the state.

Russian Geographical Society

The Lykov family fashioned a rudimentary one-room wooden hut for their abode. The family diet consisted of potatoes and berries, and life was harsh. Hunger was often present. For entertainment and education, the family relied on prayer books and recounted their dreams. The children would only hear tales of modern life outside the rugged taiga from their family.

Unending isolation is broken

When the summer of 1978 arrived, the family’s seclusion from humanity would come to an end, when geologists stumbled upon their dwelling. Everyone was astonished that anyone could manage to thrive in such a remote part of the taiga.


The Lykov family was apprehensive about the intruders’ presence, but eventually accepted gifts of clothing and food. When the Lykovs were given an update about the modern world, they were shocked.

Because the family managed to exist in the wilderness, unscathed by the mishaps of the modern world, the family missed out on World War II, satellites and man’s landing on the moon, and modern conveniences like plastic wrap.