A Russian immigrant to NY in the 1920s, Lillian Alling was so homesick that she resolved to walk home to Siberia

The 25 year old Lillian Alling was an immigrant from Russia, who lived in New York in 1920s. She felt alienated by the New Yorker snobs, who felt superior to an insecure outsider trying to fit in.

Most likely, she arrived in New York in 1925, but whether she was alone or not, and what drove her to America is unknown. Whatever the case might be, the land of opportunity didn’t feel like home to Alling. She had worked hard to save money, so she could go back home to Russia. As the time passed without enough money, she became desperate. As it turned out later, she became a frequent visitor of the New York Public Library. There, she searched the map, in order to draw a path to Siberia. She was determined to go home, so she packed her belongings and hit the road. In three years, she walked more than 5000 miles on foot, and was last seen at the banks of the Bering strait.

Alling’s journey began in at the end of 1926, when she headed toward Buffalo,NY. Then, she proceeded to Canada and towards British Columbia. She walked along Telegraph Trail and every 30 miles or so, she reached a cabin of trail’s linemen. One of them found her to be weak and her appearance to be suspicious. She only responded by words: “I go to Siberia”. Lineman reported her, so she was arrested for vagrancy. She was sentenced a few months to the Oakhalla Prison Farm in Vancouver. However, the intention was to nurture her, until she recovered. After that, she stayed in Vancouver for a while and worked to save money.

In the summer of 1928, Alling continued her journey, occasionally stopping by a lineman’s cabin. She even got a dog, from the caring linesmen. By winter, she reached Dawson City, where she worked as a waitress and bought an old boat. She spent most of her free time repairing it. By the spring of 1929, she started crossing the Yukon River to Nome, Alaska. In 1929, her boat was abandoned on the shore of the Bering Strait. People can only assume, that she had convinced natives, to help her cross the Bering Strait to Siberia. Although, there is no evidence of her making it, it’s hard to believe that she quit after being this close to home.

In 1972, True West magazine published a story of Alling’s trip. Soon, the reader Arthur Elmore reached out, who claimed that his friend visited Siberia in 1930. And he passed on the story of a young woman and a native people, from the Diomede islands. They had been on the shore of the Bering Strait. All of them were questioned by authorities, who were suspicious of the visitors.

We could never know if the woman in Elmore’s story was Lillian Alling, but one thing is definitely true: there is no place like home.

Source mentalfloss.com. via Reddit

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