A young man named Kaspar was out for a morning hike in the Estonia Swamp, with no idea that he was about to stumble upon something that’d been buried for decades. Taking the path less traveled, he found what looked like a boat stuck in the ground.
After gathering people to help dig, everyone soon realized they’d uncovered a lost piece of history.
Kasper Took The Path Less Traveled
It was a normal morning, and Kasper was ready to explore the Estonian Swamp. When he got there, the young boy realized there were two paths in front of him. The first was a popular trail for local hikers while the other could barely be classified as a trail.
It was the second that piqued his interest.
Lake Kurtna Matasjarv Was In The Middle Of Nowhere
After picking the trail he wanted to go down, Kasper began to walk. It was not long before he came across Lake Kurtna Matasjarv. At 53,820 square feet, the lake was a decent size. Still, it was located in the middle of nowhere.
No one in their right mind was going to lug a boat out there.
He Spotted Strange Markings On The Ground
Kasper did not really think much about what people would use the lake for. That is until he noticed some strange markings around its perimeter. He was not sure what they could be.
And the fact that the marks were covered by what looked like years of growth was not helping matters.
The Marks Weren’t The Only Thing On The Ground
Kasper had walked this path many times in his life, even though it was not a marked trail for hikers. How had he never noticed something so strange near the lake?
If the markings were not weird enough, what Kasper spotted next was enough for him to scratch his head.
There Was A Rope
Next to the strange markings on the ground was a rope, something that looked like an anchor for a boat. But no one brought their boats out to this lake, it was very much out of the way.
It would be one big hassle to get a boat this deep into the swamp.
He Began To Pull
Kasper was curious, though, so he dug around the mud and got the rope out of the swampy earth. Then, he started to pull. Being a young boy, Kasper was not exactly able to budge whatever was stuck in the ground.
He was going to need some help if the mystery object was going to be unearthed.
Kasper Got His Parents Involved
Dropping the muddy rope, Kasper turned around and headed back towards his home. Once he got there, he quickly explained what he had found to his parents. Needless to say, they were more than a little confused.
Still, they dropped what they were doing and followed their son into the swamp.
They Had No Idea What The Object Was Under The Surface
Kasper had no idea what he found. The rope looked like it had once anchored a boat. But where was the boat? Was it buried under the ground, and that’s why he couldn’t get the rope completely out from the muddy earth?
The young boy had no clue he was about to uncover a lost piece of history — a World War II tank that fought on both sides.
His Parents Had No Answers
As it turned out, Kasper’s parents were at a complete loss, too. They had no idea what to make of the strange tracks on the ground or what the rope could be attached to. It was a mystery.
And the local mystery Kasper stumbled upon soon had the entire town interested.
More And More People Showed Up
Not long after Kasper brought his parents to Lake Kurtna Matasjarv, more townspeople showed up. They were curious what the young boy found on the off-beaten path of the Estonian Swamp.
They were going to need some serious muscle to get that muddy rope to budge out of the ground.
No One Knew What The Marks Were
The men of the town gathered around the swamp, inspecting the strange marks in the ground that Kasper had spotted earlier that day. They really had no clue what could have made them.
And the fact that they were covered with what looked like years of growth had them scratching their heads.
The Townspeople Tried The Rope, Too
Soon, the men spotted the rope Kasper had talked about. Some of the locals got a good grip and began to pull, thinking they could make it budge a bit more than the young boy.
While the rope came off the muddy ground easily enough, it seemed as though no amount of strength was going to make it budge.
There Was Something Under The Surface
While the tracks on the ground were strange and the rope was not close to budging from the earth, the townspeople knew one thing for sure — there was definitely something submerged in the lake.
Now, it was just a matter of finding out what it was and getting the object topside.
They Needed Equipment
About a dozen strong men and women tried to pull the rope, thinking if they had enough power the object would make itself known. Alas, they were not strong enough.
They were going to need some serious equipment if they were going to extract whatever was beneath the surface of the lake.
Authorities Were Called
Once the townspeople realized there was no way they were going to unearth this mystery object by pulling on the rope, they decided it was time to call the authorities. They were sure to bring in some major manpower and equipment.
Then they would be able to pull the object from the water.
A Big Machine Was Sent To Help
It did not take long for the people standing around Lake Kurtna Matasjarv to hear something coming through the forest. The authorities had definitely sent some serious machinery to help out.
A massive bulldozer came through the trees, clearly on its way to pull the mystery object from the water.
The Bulldozer Went To Work
Tying the muddy rope to the bulldozer, the townspeople stood around and waited to see what would happen. Well, some waited while others thought they could be of use to the massive machine, grabbing some of the rope and hauling alongside the bulldozer.
Amazingly, between the huge bulldozer and the people, the object did not budge. Whatever was under the surface of Lake Kurtna Matasjarv was clearly massive. Sadly, they had no idea how to extract something that large and heavy.
It Was Time To Bring In More Vehicles
By this time, the townspeople had realized there was more than one rope on the muddy swamp floor. And while attaching them all to the bulldozer did little to nothing, they soon came up with a plan.
People rushed back into town, bringing their own vehicles to Lake Kurtna Matasjarv. Tying ropes to each of the vehicles, including the bulldozer, the townspeople were all going to pull at the same time. The hope was that the sheer number of vehicles and their horsepower was going to be enough to bring the mystery object to the surface. And that was not all they did.
Even Kasper Helped Out
Connecting steel cables to the ropes, manpower, and a whole lot of horsepower, it took the townspeople a solid eight hours to make any progress with the mystery object. Even Kasper lent a tiny hand where he could!
Like everyone, he wanted to see what was beneath the water of the lake. He’d been the one to discover it, after all!
Finally, It Budged
Eight hours and a lot of work later, the townspeople finally felt something under the surface of the water budge. After that, all it took was a few tough pulls from everyone working on the extraction to see something breach the lake.
They could not believe they’d finally pulled the mystery object up!
The Bulldozer Gave One Last Pull
The work was not over yet. Only a small portion of the object was showing. So, people went down to the muddy part of the lake and began to dig.
After a little while, the bulldozer gave one last tug, and the mystery object finally popped out of the water.
An Open Hatch Was Revealed
There was a collective gasp, and the object breached the surface. A lot of people knew what it was right away, while others were still confused. Either way, they ran to grab a hose to wash the hardened mud off the object.
After a few minutes, the clean object revealed an open hatch.
There Was A White Symbol On The Side
The people were exhausted, but they’d come too far to give up now. Washing away more and more of the mud, they’d finally revealed an all-to-familiar white symbol, something from World War II. They had to be sure of what they saw, though.
And, with one last dig and haul, they finally managed to get the massive metal object to the surface.
It Was A World War II Tank
Fighting against the mud and people pulling it from the lake, everyone fell silent when they realized what was standing before them — a World War II tank. They had just discovered a piece of history buried deep beneath the surface of Lake Kurtna Matasjarv in the Estonian Swamp.
It was beyond amazing.
No One Knew How It Wound Up In The Lake
After the initial shock of unearthing a tank wore off, everyone had one question on their mind: how did a World War II tank wind up buried in Lake Kurtna Matasjarv?
The lake it was in was located in the middle of nowhere. But the tank wasn’t the only thing the people found.
Kasper Spotted Ammunition
Beyond excited, Kasper ran straight up to the tank to peer inside. Something inside the tank, floating in the water, caught his eye, something shiny. Looking at his mom, he asked, “Mom? Are those big bullets?”
It did not take long for Kasper to feel arms grabbing him and pulling him off and away from the tank.
They Heard Sirens
Inside the tank, there was ammunition rolling around! There was a chance they could still be dangerous, and Kasper’s mom was taking zero chances when it came to her young son.
Apparently, Kasper’s mom wasn’t the only one who found the tank dangerous. Not long after it was revealed, sirens began to wail, and a camouflaged truck rolled to a stop.
It Took Two Weeks To Extract The Tank From The Lake
A man surveying the tank walked up to Kasper, saying, “You found it? I’m impressed. Well done. We need you to step back while we make sure it’s safe.”
It took two weeks for experts to check the tank and fully extract it from the lake. When they did, they began doing research.
It Was A Soviet-Built T34/76A
It turns out it was a Soviet-built T34/76A, and, amazingly, it was in pristine condition for being underwater for several decades. After looking at the white numbers and symbols further, experts believe the tank was captured by Germans and repainted with their own symbols.
In the end, the Germans probably dumped the tank in the lake so it couldn’t be recaptured.
The Tank Was Pristine
According to experts, the tank was in such pristine condition due to the low oxygen levels in the swampy terrain, preserving the metal, so it didn’t fully deteriorate.
The next question they had was if the tank was actually operational after all of those years of being under the water.
There Were 116 Pieces Of Ammunition
Curators from the nearby Gorodenko museum were amazed by the tank, especially its amazing condition. Restoring the tank, they found that the old diesel engine still worked, turning the tank on.
Not only that, but they also found 116 pieces of ammunition. Still, nothing answered the single question on their minds: what was the tank doing in that secluded area.
A Soviet Tank Captured By German Troops
As it turns out, some battles happened on the Eastern Estonia Narva front, with numerous soldiers and tanks making their way through the swampy marshlands where Lake Kurtna Matasjarv is located.
And, in the summer of 1944, it was in that location that the German forces captured the Soviet “Trophy Tank.”
The Tank Fought On Both Sides Of The War
The tank Kasper found is beyond rare, as it actually fought on both the German and Soviet sides during World War II. It was remarkable!
The curators discovered that it was only a short six weeks after the German troops initially captured the tank and discarded it in the lake.
The German Troops Didn’t Want Them Getting The Tank Back
After a lot of research, the curators learned that the German troops began to retreat from the Narva front on September 19, 1944.
Not wanting their enemies to get their hands on weapons, they decided the best course of action was to dump the truck where no one could get their hands on it — the lake.
The Tank Is Now Displayed In A Museum
The tank sat in its watery grave with its ammunition for decades. That is until a curious little boy took a path less traveled in the swampy marshlands of the Estonian Swamp.
Now, the T-34 World War II tank is proudly displayed in a war museum in the Gorodenko village.