Urban exploration even under the best of circumstances is a risky proposition, but try telling that to photographer Mikhail Mishainik. Mishainik is well-known for his daring explorations of various abandoned industrial sites around Russia. While Mishainik has a dizzying array of photo sets to choose from, one of the most interesting is his exploration of abandoned ore mines in the Russian Ural Mountains.
It wasn't until the outbreak of World War II that the Ural Mountains were mined.
The crush for natural resources to feed the Soviet war machine at the time was unprecedented.
Combine that with the fact that the the Soviets faced heavy losses during the early years of the war, and you have a recipe for rapidly deployed mining operations with little regard toward safety.
Yes, those are wooden beams currently holding up a mountain.
These hastily constructed mines served the Soviets well during the war and ultimately helped turn the tide in their favor.
However, because of shoddy construction, the mines didn't last long after the war.
Within a decade, most of the Ural mines were abandoned and left to decay.
Surprisingly, many of them are still intact enough to be explored by people like Mishainik and his friends.
Though the exploration isn't without its risks. As you can see in the photos below, many areas have been flooded by ground water.
Still, though, venturing into the mines seems to have been well worth the risk. These photos are breathtaking.
This is far from Mishainik's only photo set. For more pictures of amazing abandoned locations, make sure to check out his homepage here.