Lighthouses of Russia: Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal is located in southern Siberia, east of the city of Irkutsk, on the border between Irkutsk Oblast (province) and the Buryat Republic, two units of the Russian Federation. The crescent-shaped lake occupies a deep rift valley and is the world's deepest lake, reaching a depth of 1637 m (5370 ft). Its name, baikal, means "rich" or "abundant" in the Mongol language. Although it appears to be completely surrounded by mountains, the lake drains by the Angara River through a narrow water gap near its southwestern end. Lake Baikal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.

There has been commercial navigation on the lake since the late nineteenth century, and travel in the area is often by water since there are few roads. However, sources of information on the lake's lighthouses are scarce and not much is known of their history. Visitor reports and photos would be very welcome.

Special thanks to Michel Forand for his research, which produced most of the information presented here.

The Russian word for a lighthouse is mayak (маяк); mys is a cape and ostrov is an island. Aids to navigation on Russian inland waterways are presumably maintained by the River Transport division of the Maritime Board.

General Sources
Magic Baikal - Lighthouses and Hydrology
This account, in Russian, includes a list of 10 lake lighthouses in its second paragraph. The same source has descriptions of the lighthouses, but no photos.
Lighthouses in Russia
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Lake Baikal
Photos by various photographers available from
Russische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Karte Baikal
Wikipedia's best map of the lake.

Port Baikal Light
Port Baikal Light, Port Baikal, 2007 photo by Oleg Kocheshkov

* Port Baikal
1900. Inactive. Approx. 6 m (20 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern red. This lighthouse was abandoned and rusting in 1995 when Alexander Knyazev visited, but by 2007, as seen in Oleg Kocheshkov's photo above, it had been painted and some sort of communications gear was attached to it. Thomas Claveirole has a closeup, another photo is available, Oleg Bulatov has a 2012 closeup, Sylvain Raybaud has a closeup of the lantern, there's a nice summertime view (second photo on the page), Huelse has a historic postcard photo, and Google has a distant satellite view. Prefabricated in England by Armstrong, Whitworth and Company. This light, the Babushkin Light, and probably the Tankhoyskiy Light were built around 1900 to guide rail ferries carrying the trains of the Trans-Siberian Railway across the lake. This ferry service ended in 1905 when the rail line was completed around the south shore of the lake. Located on a very steep hillside above Port Baikal, on the southwestern end of the lake. Site open, tower closed.
* Tankhoyskiy
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) hexagonal tower; only the iron skeleton of the tower remains. I. Fefelov has a closeup photo, but the ruin has not been found in Google's satellite view of the area. It is believed that this light also guided rail ferries. Located in Tankhoy, on the south shore of the lake opposite Port Baikal and about 80 km (50 mi) west of Babushkin. Site open, tower closed.
* Babushkin (Mysovsk)
1900. Inactive. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with gallery, mounted on a conical stone foundation. Lantern removed. Valery Ivanov's photo is at right, Alexey Ilinyh has a 2017 closeup photo, Ildus Shamgunov has a photo and a view from the lake, Wikimedia has a sunset photo, and Google has a satellite view. has a historic photo from the collection of Michel Forand. Prefabricated in England by Armstrong, Whitworth and Company, this lighthouse is a sibling of the Port Baikal light. Located on a sandy point at Babushkin (formerly Mysovsk), on the southeast shore of the lake. Site open, tower closed.
* Selenga (3?)
1953. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); flashing white light. Approx. 13 m (43 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower; all sides of the tower are covered by a slatted daymark. A photo (second photo on the page) is available. The lighthouse is built on an artificial island off the Selenga River Delta; the exact location is not known and the island has not been located in Bing's satellite view. Located on the south side of the lake about 65 km (40 mi) northeast of Babushkin. Site open, tower status unknown.
* Turka
2014. Active; focal plane about 26 m (85 ft); red light. Approx. 23 m (75 ft) cylindrical tower with lantern and double gallery. The lighthouse is dark gray with white trim and a red conical roof on the lantern. Michele Luigi Crescentini has a good photo, Pavel Asmanov has another photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. This lighthouse was built as part of a resort development. Located on the north breakwater at a river entrance in Turka, a town on the central east coast of the lake. Site open, tower status unknown.
Date unknown. Active (?). Wood tower mounted on a "log blockhouse." No photo available. Google has a satellite view but it's not clear where the light is located. Located at the northeastern corner of the lake, on the east side of a river entrance. Site status unknown.
Date unknown. Active (?). No photo and no description of the tower available; Google has only a very distant satellite view of the area. Located at Dushkachan, a town at the north end of the lake. Site status unknown.
Mys Kotel'nikovskiy
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) square pyramidal wood tower, unpainted; the upper portion carries the remains of a slatted daymark. A closeup photo is available but the tower is not seen in Bing's satellite view. Located on a conspicuous sandy cape on the northwest side of the lake. Site open, tower closed.

Mysovsk Light, Babushkin, March 2018
Google Plus photo by Valery Ivanov
Mys Kobylya Golova (Khorin-Irgi) (2)
Date unknown. Active(?). Approx. 10 m (33 ft) square pyramidal wood tower. The Magic Baikal site has a view from the lake but the small tower is not seen in Bing's satellite view. has a historic photo of an earlier light. This light guides vessels in the narrow passage between the western shore of the lake and Ol'khon Island, a large island that parallels the lakeshore for about 80 km (50 mi). Located on an islet at the point of a very sharp cape at the western end of Ol'khon Island, opposite the town of Sarma. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown.
Mys Krestovyy
Date unknown. Active(?). Approx. 6 m (20 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white. Aleksandr Severnyy has a photo but Google has only a fuzzy satellite view. A 2017 street view shows another small abandoned beacon at or near the same location. Located on a point of land on the west side of the lake southeast of Petrova. Site open, tower closed.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

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Posted June 2, 2009. Checked and revised February 20, 2019. Lighthouses: 10. Site copyright 2019 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.