Tunguska-Tesla Theory: Did Tesla Cause the Tunguska Explosion?

Updated on July 26, 2017
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With interests in science, nature, and the paranormal, cryptid explores fringe topics from a unique and sometimes controversial perspective.

Did Nikola Tesla really create a Death Ray capable of destroying entire armies?
Did Nikola Tesla really create a Death Ray capable of destroying entire armies? | Source

Tesla and Tunguska

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant inventor and scientist who lived at one of the most exciting times in history. In America, back in the late-19th century, it seemed new discoveries, inventions and human achievements were coming along by the bucketful.

The railroad had brought together the east and west coasts, cities were building not only outward but upward, and something called electricity was beginning to creep into homes and towns around the country.

Everyone knows Thomas Edison as the man behind the electric light bulb. But Edison had a protégé in Nikola Tesla, who would eventually go on to become a competitor. Tesla is known today as a key developer of alternating current, the very power that runs our lives. But not all of Tesla’s creations were so benign.

Tesla's Ultimate Invention

There are those who say Nikola Tesla invented a superweapon. He called it a Peace Ray, but others refer to it as a death ray, and it is said to have been capable of horrific amounts of destruction. This weapon held the power to destroy entire armies, and to completely annihilate targets halfway across the globe.

Tesla himself claims to have built and tested such a superweapon in the twilight of his career. But by then he had become increasingly eccentric, some say to the point of madness.

Tesla's involvement in many clandestine projects has long been speculated, from time travel in the Philadelphia Experiment, to an alleged Earthquake Machine. But the Death Ray would top them all.

But if he really did create such a device, where is the proof? Some say a cataclysmic 1908 explosion in a remote Tunguska River region of Russia may be the evidence of Tesla's ultimate invention.

The Tunguska Explosion Aftermath in 1927
The Tunguska Explosion Aftermath in 1927 | Source

The Tunguska Blast

When Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik first overlooked the site he must have been stunned beyond words. Over 80 million trees demolished over a vast area greater than 2,000 square kilometers, blown down by some unknown force. They all lay all in a pattern revealing an epicenter near the Tunguska River, but Kulik could find no crater, nor anything that appeared to be the landing spot of whatever had caused the explosion.

Kulik was the first scientist to lead an expedition to the region, the site of the now-famous explosion. He wasn’t allowed the access to the site until the 1920’s, but the event had occurred in 1908.

Because of the delay in the investigation, and because it was such a remote area, there were few first-hand eyewitnesses who came forward. Those who did told a story of lights in the sky, balls of fire, and a tremendous blast that flattened everything in the area.

It was as though some unearthly power had reached down and smashed the landscape. Whatever it was had been incredibly powerful, and if it had targeted a populated area such as a city it would have inflicted catastrophic damage. A nuclear weapon is one of the few things that could conceivably cause such destruction, but the atom bomb hadn’t even been invented yet.

So, what happened?

What Caused the Tunguska Event?

Modern science offers several explanations for the blast at Tunguska. An inbound comet, asteroid or other projectile from space is the likely culprit. It may have entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded with tremendous force before reaching the ground, flattening trees for miles without leaving a crater. This is the most widely accepted theory, and it seems plausible to many.

More bizarre reasons include UFOs, visitors from another planet who were perhaps attempting to create the ultimate crop circle. Or, a black hole may have passed through the Earth, or even a chunk of antimatter. Though it seems if either of the latter were to occur we would not be here to talk about it.

One explanation involves Nikola Tesla, and some believe the blast at Tunguska was the direct result of one of his experiments. His brilliant work with electrical power might not be enough to make him a suspect, but when looking at his career as a whole the idea that he may have directed some sort of weapon at Tunguska begins to appear more plausible.

What could Tesla have created that was capable of such power?

 Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower
Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower | Source

The Wardenclyffe Tower

One of Telsa’s more infamous projects was the Wardenclyffe Tower. The Wardenclyffe Tower stood 187 feet tall, and was located on Long Island, New York. Tesla envisioned it as both a means for facilitating world-wide wireless communication, a hundred years before cell phones would become popular, and as a method for delivering electrical energy over great distances.

Tesla believed he could transmit both radio waves and electric power between continents, and by eliminating the need for wires. He proved this on a much smaller scale in his experiments, using his famed Tesla Coil. With the Wardenclyffe Tower he would show the results of his work to the world.

The plan was to build similar towers in major cities around the world, enabling energy and information to be transferred from point to point. Unfortunately for Tesla, his financial backers left him before he could finish his work on the Wardenclyffe Tower.

The project was scrapped. The setback, and stigma of failure that surrounded it, dealt a serious blow to Tesla and his self-esteem. Already reclusive and eccentric by nature, Tesla retreated further into the shadows.

So, Tesla may have invented a system for transferring massive amounts of energy through the air over hundreds or thousands of miles. So far this is interesting in theory, but what’s the connection between Tesla and Tunguska?

As the story goes, explorer Robert Peary was undertaking an expedition to the North Pole around the time of the Tunguska Event. Tesla contacted him before the trip and asked him to report back on anything unusual he encountered.

Did Tesla then fire a blast of energy at the uninhabited North Pole and miss, hitting Tunguska instead?

Tesla’s Motivation

It seems extremely reckless, but Tesla’s experiment may have been the act of a frustrated and desperate man. Tesla was a genius who never quite got the recognition he deserved. The financial backing for his work was drying up. He had a big chip on his shoulder from past failures and this one may have put him over the edge.

Was the Tunguska blast Tesla’s test of his system of wireless energy transfer? With the testimony of Admiral Peary (whom, hopefully, he did not blow up during the experiment) Tesla could have proven his tower worth the investment, reclaimed the admiration of his benefactors and continued with his work.

It might sound like an accident if you consider Wardenclyffe as a mere communication system. But there is another, more chilling scenario. There are those who claim there was a third use for Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower: to function as a death ray. Some say the Wardenclyffe Tower was an operational superweapon, and held the power to create massive amounts of destruction.

With the alleged ability to transmit aimed blasts of energy, it’s not a far stretch. In fact, Tesla claimed to have been working on a superweapon from 1900 until the time of his death. According to him, he did design and test such a device later in his career, a charged-particle beam projector called Teleforce.

Tesla honored by Time Magazine for his 75th birthday.
Tesla honored by Time Magazine for his 75th birthday. | Source


To be clear: Teleforce, according to Tesla, was envisioned as a means of defense, never as an offensive weapon. He intended this “Death Ray” as protection, and as a method for eliminating war altogether. It was just as often referred to as the “Peace Ray”.

Nonetheless, Tesla’s mechanism of delivering a charged particle beam held the power, he said, to wipe out entire armies and bring down 10,000 enemy aircraft at a distance of 200 miles.

Teleforce was an incredible device with mind-boggling implications. These were the days before World War II, and had Tesla’s invention been put into practice thousands and thousands of lives would have likely been spared.

Then again, had his technology gotten into the wrong hands, the dictator or despot who controlled it would have the world at his feet in true supervillain style.

So what happened to Teleforce? In a cryptic comment he allegedly made in 1937, Tesla responded to notions that Teleforce was purely in the concept stage by assuring his audience that he had indeed built and tested this superweapon. Was Tesla telling the truth? Was the “test” he eluded to the explosion at Tunguska?

It’s hard to sort it all out. Many believed by then that Tesla had begun to go off the deep end with his theories and claims. The fact that no government, including his, took an interest in Teleforce at the time or since is telling. However, Tesla also claimed he held the blueprint to Teleforce in his mind, so perhaps this explains why his alleged work was never reproduced.

Did Tesla’s Death Ray Cause the Tunguska Explosion?

Nikola Tesla was one of most intriguing inventors in history, and because of his eccentricities he is often regarding as a kind of mad scientist. In truth, it’s hard to imagine a world today without Tesla’s creations. Tesla, after all, invented the alternating current power we take for granted. But what else may he have done?

Was Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower a veiled attempt at a superweapon, an early application of the Teleforce Death Ray concept? Did he really have the power to blast away thousands of square kilometers of Russian wilderness?

The internet is awash with conspiracy theories on his inventions, some perhaps still in development today. Most mainstream scientists say the event at Tunguska probably had nothing to do with Tesla. Still, some researchers believe it was not only well within Tesla’s ability to execute the blast that rocked Tunguska, but he also had the motivation to follow through.

Will we ever know the truth? Unfortunately, one of the greatest inventors the world has ever known took that secret to his grave.

What happened to Tesla's Death Ray?

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