A smallpox outbreak in 1840 killed all the remaining settlers, apart from one girl, turning Zashiversk into an abandoned ghost town. There is a local legend that the death of the town was caused by the opening of an abandoned chest at a fairground. A shaman had ordered that the coffer remain closed, but greedy traders rejected the plea and wanted to see what treasure was held inside.
It is said they released the grim reaper, for within days the deadly smallpox outbreak had taken hold. People died so quickly there was no time to bury the bodies, and they floated down the river. Zashiversk remained abandoned with people too afraid to visit it, until it was stumbled across again in the 20th century.