THE NORTH POLE
COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
THE NORTH POLE
ITS DISCOVERY IN 1909 UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE PEARY ARCTIC CLUB
ROBERT E. PEARY
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY THEODORE ROOSEVELT
AND A FOREWORD BY GILBERT H. GROSVENOR DIRECTOR AND EDITOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
GREENWOOD PRESS, PUBLISHERS NEW YORK
Originally published in 1910 by Frederick A. Stokes Co.
First Greenwood Reprinting, 1968
Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 68-55210
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TO MY WIFE
SOME _years ago I met at a dinner in Washington the famous Norwegian arctic explorer, Nansen, himself one of the heroes of polar adventure; and he remarked to me, "Peary is your best man; in fact I think he is on the whole the best of the men now trying to reach the Pole, and there is a good chance that he will be the one to succeed." I cannot give the exact words; but they were to the above effect; and they made a strong impression on me. I thought of them when in the summer of 1908 I, as President of the United States, went aboard Peary's ship to bid him Godspeed on the eve of what proved to be his final effort to reach the Pole. A year later, when I was camped on the northern foothills of Mt. Kenia, directly under the equator, I received by a native runner the news that he had succeeded, and that thanks to him the discovery of the North Pole was to go on the honor roll of those feats in which we take a peculiar pride because they have been performed by our fellow countrymen.
Probably few outsiders realize the well-nigh incredible toil and hardship entailed in such an achievement as Peary's; and fewer still understand how many years of careful training and preparation there must be before the feat can be even attempted with any chance of success. A "dash for the pole" can be successful only if there have been many preliminary years of painstaking, patient toil. Great physical hardihood and endurance, an iron will and unflinching courage, the power of command, the thirst for adventure, and a keen and farsighted intelligence—all these must go to the make-up of the successful arctic explorer; and these, and more than these, have gone to the make-up of the chief of successful arctic explorers, of the man who succeeded where hitherto even the best and the bravest had failed.
Commander Peary has made all dwellers in the civilized world his debtors; but, above all, we, his fellow Americans, are his debtors. He has performed one of the great feats of our time; he has won high honor for himself and for his country; and we welcome his own story of the triumph which he won in the immense solitudes of the wintry North._
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. THE WHITE NILE, March 12, 1910.
COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
CHAPTER PAGE INTRODUCTION vii FOREWORD xv I THE PLAN 1 II PREPARATIONS 11 III THE START 25 IV UP TO CAPE YORK 34 V WELCOME FROM THE ESKIMOS 42 VI AN ARCTIC OASIS 53 VII ODD CUSTOMS OF AN ODD PEOPLE 63 VIII GETTING RECRUITS 72 IX A WALRUS HUNT 79 X KNOCKING AT THE GATEWAY TO THE POLE 88 XI CLOSE QUARTERS WITH THE ICE 97 XII THE ICE FIGHT GOES ON 106 XIII CAPE SHERIDAN AT LAST 117 XIV IN WINTER QUARTERS 126 XV THE AUTUMN WORK 134 XVI THE BIGGEST GAME IN THE ARCTIC 143 XVII MUSK-OXEN AT LAST 151 XVIII THE LONG NIGHT 162 XIX THE Roosevelt's NARROW ESCAPE 172 XX CHRISTMAS ON THE Roosevelt 182 XXI ARCTIC ICE SLEDGING AS IT REALLY IS 193 XXII ESSENTIALS THAT BROUGHT SUCCESS 201 XXIII OFF ACROSS THE FROZEN SEA 213 XXIV THE FIRST OPEN WATER 221 XXV SOME OF MY ESKIMOS LOSE THEIR NERVE 230 XXVI BORUP'S FARTHEST NORTH 240 XXVII GOOD-BY TO MARVIN 248 XXVIII WE BREAK ALL RECORDS 255 XXIX BARTLETT REACHES 87 deg. 47' 264 XXX THE FINAL SPURT BEGUN 272 XXXI ONLY ONE DAY FROM THE POLE 280 XXXII WE REACH THE POLE 287 XXXIII GOOD-BY TO THE POLE 302 XXXIV BACK TO LAND AGAIN 314 XXXV LAST DAYS AT CAPE SHERIDAN 325 APPENDIX I 337 APPENDIX II 350 APPENDIX III 363
FULL-PAGE PLATES REPRODUCING PHOTOGRAPHIC ENLARGEMENTS COLORED BY HAND
THE FIVE FLAGS AT THE POLE Frontispiece.
PORTRAIT OF ROBERT E. PEARY IN HIS ACTUAL NORTH POLE COSTUME viii
STELLAR PROJECTION, SHOWING THE RELATION OF THE POLAR SEA TO THE VARIOUS CONTINENTS AND THE ROUTE OF THE EXPEDITION xxxii
ESKIMO DOGS OF THE EXPEDITION (246 IN ALL) ON SMALL ISLAND. ETAH FJORD 74
CAPTAIN BARTLETT AND HIS PARTY (A TYPICAL UNIT DIVISION OF THE EXPEDITION) 140
ILLUMINATION OF THE Roosevelt IN WINTER QUARTERS ON A MOONLIGHT NIGHT 162
A TYPICAL EXAMPLE OF THE DIFFICULTIES OF WORKING SLEDGES OVER A PRESSURE RIDGE 240
CROSSING A LEAD ON AN ICE CAKE AS A FERRY-BOAT 306
BLACK AND WHITE ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
GEORGE A. WARDWELL, CHIEF ENGINEER 16 BANKS SCOTT, SECOND ENGINEER 16 ROBERT A. BARTLETT, MASTER 16 THOMAS GUSHUE, MATE 16 CHARLES PERCY, STEWARD 16 PROFESSOR ROSS G. MARVIN, ASSISTANT 17 GEORGE BORUP, ASSISTANT 17 DONALD B. MACMILLAN, ASSISTANT 17 DR. J. W. GOODSELL, SURGEON 17 SNOWY OWL, CAPE SHERIDAN 36 BRANT GOOSE 37 SABINE'S GULL 37 RED-THROATED DIVER, MALE AND FEMALE 37 KING EIDER, DRAKE 37 ESKIMOS COMING OFF TO THE Roosevelt IN KAYAKS 42 THE MIDNIGHT SUN AS SEEN IN THE WHALE SOUND REGION 42 ESKIMO IN KAYAK 43 THE ICE-CLIFFS OF HUBBARD GLACIER 52 PEARY DISTRIBUTING UTENSILS TO WIVES OF HIS HUNTERS AT ETAH 53 DECK SCENE ON THE Roosevelt 53 ESKIMO MOTHER AND CHILD 60 ESKIMO CHILDREN 61 KUDLAH, ALIAS "MISFORTUNE," WITH PUPPIES 61 KING ESKIMO DOG 70 THE DOG MARKET AT CAPE YORK 71 THE WHALE-BOAT RETURNING TO THE SHIP FROM THE WALRUS HUNT 71 THE CAPE JESUP GRENADIERS 71 HOISTING A WALRUS TO THE DECK OF THE Roosevelt 86 A NARWHAL KILLED OFF CAPE UNION, JULY, 1909. THE MOST NORTHERLY SPECIMEN EVER CAPTURED 87 CAPTAIN BARTLETT IN THE CROW'S NEST 104 TABULAR ICEBERG AND FLOE-ICE 105 THE Roosevelt DRYING OUT HER SAILS AT CAPE SHERIDAN, SEPTEMBER, 1908 122 THE Roosevelt ON SEPTEMBER 12, 1908, MARIE AHNIGHITO PEARY'S BIRTHDAY 123 "PEARY" SLEDGES ON BOARD THE Roosevelt 123 VIEW BETWEEN THE Roosevelt AND CAPE COLUMBIA 136 ESKIMO TYPE OF SLEDGE USED ON JOURNEY 137 "PEARY" TYPE OF SLEDGE 137 POLAR BEAR, ARRANGED BY "FROZEN TAXIDERMY" AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY FLASHLIGHT 144 FAMILY GROUP OF PEARY CARIBOU (Rangifer Pearyi), ARRANGED BY "FROZEN TAXIDERMY" AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY FLASHLIGHT 145 HEAD OF BULL MUSK-OX KILLED ON PARRY PENINSULA 152 HERD OF MUSK-OXEN ROUNDED UP 153 WEESHARKOOPSI AND MUSK-OX CALF 156 BEAR KILLED IN CLEMENTS MARKHAM INLET 156 MUSK-OX HEADS IN THE RIGGING OF THE Roosevelt 157 CARIBOU HEADS IN THE RIGGING OF THE Roosevelt 157 CRANE CITY, CAPE COLUMBIA, AT THE TIME OF DEPARTURE MARCH 1, 1909 192 FACE OF THE LAND ICE, "GLACIAL FRINGE," OFF CAPE COLUMBIA 193 PINNACLE NEAR THE SHORE 193 TYPICAL TRAIL IN SOFT SNOW (LOOKING BACKWARD) 208 TYPICAL VIEW OF THE ICE OF THE ARCTIC OCEAN NORTH OF GRANT LAND 209 TYPICAL CAMP ON THE ICE 209 WORKING THROUGH AN EXPANSE OF ROUGH ICE 216 PASSING THROUGH A DEFILE IN ROUGH ICE 217 APPROACHING A LEAD THROUGH ROUGH ICE 224 STOPPED BY OPEN WATER 225 ATHLETIC SPORTS AT THE LEAD CAMP 232 PICKAXING A ROAD THROUGH ZONE OF ROUGH ICE 232 A CHARACTERISTIC VIEW OF THE EXPEDITION ON THE MARCH IN FINE WEATHER 233 REPAIRING SLEDGES IN CAMP 248 MARVIN TAKING AN OBSERVATION IN A SNOW SHELTER 249 CROSSING A LARGE LAKE OF YOUNG ICE, NORTH OF 87 deg. 264 CAMP AT 85 deg. 48' NORTH, MARCH 22, 1909 265 A MOMENTARY HALT IN THE LEE OF A BIG HUMMOCK NORTH OF 88 deg. 265 BARTLETT AND HIS PARTY READY TO START BACK FROM 87 deg. 47' NORTH, APRIL 1, 1909 270 CUTTING BLOCKS OF SNOW FOR IGLOOS AT NEXT TO LAST CAMP, 89 deg. 25' NORTH 271 THE HALT FOR LUNCH IN LAST FORCED MARCH, 89 deg. 25' TO 89 deg. 57', SHOWING ALCOHOL STOVES IN SNOW SHELTER 284 CAMP MORRIS K. JESUP, 89 deg. 57', APRIL 6 AND 7, 1909 285 THE RECONNOITERING PARTY AT THE POLE 288 THE DOUBLE TEAM OF DOGS USED WITH THE RECONNOITERING SLEDGE AT THE POLE, SHOWING THEIR ALERTNESS AND GOOD CONDITION 289 PEARY WITH CHRONOMETER, SEXTANT, AND ARTIFICIAL HORIZON AT THE POLE 290 PEARY TAKING AN OBSERVATION AT THE POLE, WITH ARTIFICIAL HORIZON, IN A SNOW SHELTER 290 PEARY'S IGLOO AT CAMP MORRIS K. JESUP, APRIL 6, 1909; THE MOST NORTHERLY HUMAN HABITATION IN THE WORLD 291 MEMBERS OF THE PARTY CHEERING THE STARS AND STRIPES AT THE POLE, APRIL 7, 1909 294 RETURNING TO CAMP WITH THE FLAGS, APRIL 7, 1909 294 THE FOUR NORTH POLE ESKIMOS 295 EGINGWAH SEARCHING THE HORIZON FOR LAND 298 PEARY SEARCHING THE HORIZON FOR LAND 298 LOOKING TOWARD CAPE CHELYUSKIN 299 LOOKING TOWARD SPITZBERGEN 299 LOOKING TOWARD CAPE COLUMBIA 299 LOOKING TOWARD BERING STRAIT 299 ATTEMPTED SOUNDING, APRIL 7, 1909 302 ACTUAL SOUNDING, FIVE MILES SOUTH OF THE POLE, APRIL 7, 1909, 1500 FATHOMS (9000 ft.) NO BOTTOM 303 SWINGING AN ICE CAKE ACROSS A LEAD TO FORM AN IMPROMPTU BRIDGE 308 PASSING OVER THE BRIDGE 309 SOUNDING 312 BREAKING CAMP. PUSHING THE SLEDGES UP TO THE TIRED DOGS 312 LAST CAMP ON THE ICE ON THE RETURN 313 BACK ON THE "GLACIAL FRINGE" 313 APPROACHING THE PEAKS OF CAPE COLUMBIA OVER THE SURFACE OF THE "GLACIAL FRINGE" 318 CRANE CITY AT CAPE COLUMBIA, ON THE RETURN 318 EGINGWAH BEFORE STARTING ON THE SLEDGE TRIP 319 EGINGWAH AFTER THE RETURN FROM THE TRIP 319 OOTAH BEFORE STARTING ON THE SLEDGE TRIP 319 OOTAH AFTER THE RETURN FROM THE SLEDGE TRIP 319 PERMANENT MONUMENT ERECTED AT CAPE COLUMBIA TO MARK POINT OF DEPARTURE AND RETURN OF NORTH POLE SLEDGE PARTY 324 PEARY CAIRN AT CAPE MORRIS K. JESUP AS PHOTOGRAPHED BY MACMILLAN AND BORUP 325 MEMORIAL ERECTED TO THE MEMORY OF PROFESSOR ROSS G. MARVIN AT CAPE SHERIDAN 325 THE SPECIAL GREAT GOLD MEDAL OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON 364 THE SPECIAL GREAT GOLD MEDAL OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON 365
NOTE.—The general plan of illustration is based on an unusually close adherence to the negatives, as giving more interesting and valuable results. Many of the most important pictures are from photographs not retouched in the least, e.g., those facing pages 270, 284, 290, etc. In others the sky-line has been indicated, e.g., those facing pages 208, 271, 299 (top), etc.; but change of no other sort has been made except to remove specks and other similar mechanical defects not widely extended. The color-plates are, of course, exceptions requiring special treatment. THE PUBLISHERS
The struggle for the North Pole began nearly one hundred years before the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth Rock, being inaugurated (1527) by that king of many distinctions, Henry VIII of England.
In 1588 John Davis rounded Cape Farewell, the southern end of Greenland, and followed the coast for eight hundred miles to Sanderson Hope. He discovered the strait which bears his name, and gained for Great Britain what was then the record for the farthest north, 72 deg. 12', a point 1128 miles from the geographical North Pole. Scores of hardy navigators, British, French, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, and Russian, followed Davis, all seeking to hew across the Pole the much-coveted short route to China and the Indies. The rivalry was keen and costly in lives, ships, and treasure, but from the time of Henry VIII for three and one-half centuries, or until 1882 (with the exception of 1594-1606, when, through Wm. Barents, the Dutch held the record), Great Britain's flag was always waving nearest the top of the globe.
The same year that Jamestown was founded, Henry Hudson (1607), also seeking the route to the Indies, discovered Jan Mayen, circumnavigated Spitzbergen, and advanced the eye of man to 80 deg. 23'. Most valuable of all, Hudson brought back accounts of great multitudes of whales and walruses, with the result that for the succeeding years these new waters were thronged with fleets of whaling ships from every maritime nation. The Dutch specially profited by Hudson's discovery. During the 17th and 18th centuries they sent no less than 300 ships and 15,000 men each summer to these arctic fisheries and established on Spitzbergen, within the Arctic Circle, one of the most remarkable summer towns the world has ever known, where stores and warehouses and reducing stations and cooperages and many kindred industries flourished during the fishing season. With the approach of winter all buildings were shut up and the population, numbering several thousand, all returned home.
Hudson's record remained unequaled for 165 years, or until 1773, when J. C. Phipps surpassed his farthest north by twenty-five miles. To-day the most interesting fact connected with the Phipps expedition is that Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar and of the Battle of the Nile, then a lad of fifteen, was a member of the party. Thus the boldest and strongest spirits of the most adventurous and hardy profession of those days sought employment in the contest against the frozen wilderness of the north.
The first half of the 19th century witnessed many brave ships and gallant men sent to the arctic regions. While most of these expeditions were not directed against the Pole so much as sent in an endeavor to find a route to the Indies round North America—the Northwest Passage—and around Asia—the Northeast Passage—many of them are intimately interwoven with the conquest of the Pole, and were a necessary part of its ultimate discovery. England hurled expedition after expedition, manned by the best talent and energy of her navy, against the ice which seemingly blocked every channel to her ambitions for an arctic route to the Orient.
In 1819 Parry penetrated many intricate passages and overcame one-half of the distance between Greenland and Bering Sea, winning a prize of L5000, offered by Parliament to the first navigator to pass the 110th meridian west of Greenwich. He was also the first navigator to pass directly north of the magnetic North Pole, which he located approximately, and thus the first to report the strange experience of seeing the compass needle pointing due south.
So great was Parry's success that the British government sent him out in command of two other expeditions in search of the Northwest Passage. In explorations and discoveries the results of these two later expeditions were not so rich, but the experience in ice work so obtained gave Parry conclusions which revolutionized all methods in arctic navigation.
Hitherto all attempts to approach the Pole had been in ships. In 1827 Parry suggested the plan of a dash to the Pole on foot, from a base on land. He obtained the assistance of the government, which for the fourth time sent him to the Arctic provided with well-equipped ships and able officers and men. He carried a number of reindeer with him to his base in Spitzbergen, purposing to use these animals to drag his sledges. The scheme proved impracticable, however, and he was compelled to depend on the muscles of his men to haul his two heavy sledges, which were in reality boats on steel runners. Leaving Spitzbergen on June 23 with twenty-eight men, he pushed northward. But the summer sun had broken up the ice floes, and the party repeatedly found it necessary to take the runners off their boats in order to ferry across the stretches of open water. After thirty days' incessant toil Parry had reached 82 deg. 45', about 150 miles north of his base and 435 geographical miles from the Pole. Here he found that, while his party rested, the drift of the ice was carrying him daily back, almost as much as they were able to make in the day's work. Retreat was therefore begun.
Parry's accomplishments, marking a new era in polar explorations, created a tremendous sensation. Knighthood was immediately bestowed upon him by the King, while the British people heaped upon him all the honors and applause with which they have invariably crowned every explorer returning from the north with even a measure of success. In originality of plan and equipment Parry has been equaled and surpassed only by Nansen and Peary.
In those early days, few men being rich enough to pay for expeditions to the north out of their own pockets, practically every explorer was financed by the government under whose orders he acted. In 1829, however, Felix Booth, sheriff of London, gave Captain John Ross, an English naval officer, who had achieved only moderate success in a previous expedition, a small paddle-wheel steamer, the Victory, and entered him in the race for the Northwest Passage. Ross was assisted, as mate, by his nephew, James Clark Ross, who was young and energetic, and who was later to win laurels at the opposite end of the globe. This first attempt to use steam for ice navigation failed, owing to a poor engine or incompetent engineers, but in all other respects the Rosses achieved gloriously. During their five years' absence, 1829-1834, they made important discoveries around Boothia Felix, but most valuable was their definite location of the magnetic North Pole and the remarkable series of magnetic and meteorological observations which they brought back with them.
No band of men ever set out for the unknown with brighter hopes or more just anticipation of success than Sir John Franklin's expedition of 1845. The frightful tragedy which overwhelmed them, together with the mystery of their disappearance, which baffled the world for years and is not yet entirely explained, forms the most terrible narrative in arctic history. Franklin had been knighted in 1827, at the same time as Parry, for the valuable and very extensive explorations which he had conducted by snowshoes and canoe on the North American coast between the Coppermine and Great Fish rivers, during the same years that Parry had been gaining fame in the north. In the interval Franklin had served as Governor of Tasmania for seven years. His splendid reputation and ability as an organizer made him, though now fifty-nine years of age, the unanimous choice of the government for the most elaborate arctic expedition it had prepared in many years. Franklin's fame and experience, and that of Crozier and his other lieutenants, who had seen much service in the north, his able ships, the Terror and the Erebus, which had just returned from a voyage of unusual success to the Antarctic, and his magnificent equipment, aroused the enthusiasm of the British to the highest pitch and justified them in their hopes for bringing the wearying struggle for the Northwest Passage to an immediate conclusion.
For more than a year everything prospered with the party. By September, 1846, Franklin had navigated the vessels almost within sight of the coast which he had explored twenty years previously, and beyond which the route to Bering Sea was well known. The prize was nearly won when the ships became imprisoned by the ice for the winter, a few miles north of King William Land. The following June Franklin died; the ice continued impenetrable, and did not loosen its grip all that year. In July, 1848, Crozier, who had succeeded to the command, was compelled to abandon the ships, and, with the 105 survivors who were all enfeebled by the three successive winters in the Arctic, started on foot for Back River. How far they got we shall probably never know.
Meanwhile, when Franklin failed to return in 1848—he was provisioned for only three years—England became alarmed and despatched relief expeditions by sea from the Bering Sea and the Atlantic and by land north from Canada, but all efforts failed to gather news of Franklin till 1854, when Rae fell in with some Eskimo hunters near King William Land, who told him of two ships that were beset some years previous, and of the death of all the party from starvation.
In 1857 Lady Franklin, not content with this bare and indirect report of her husband's fate, sacrificed a fortune to equip a searching party to be commanded by Leopold McClintock, one of the ablest and toughest travelers over the ice the world has ever known. In 1859 McClintock verified the Eskimos' sad story by the discovery on King William Land of a record dated April, 1848, which told of Franklin's death and of the abandonment of the ships. He also found among the Eskimos silver plate and other relics of the party; elsewhere he saw one of Franklin's boats on a sledge, with two skeletons inside and clothing and chocolate; in another place he found tents and flags; and elsewhere he made the yet more ghastly discovery of a bleached human skeleton prone on its face, as though attesting the truthfulness of an Eskimo woman who, claiming to have seen forty of the survivors late in 1848, said "they fell down and died as they walked."
The distinction of being the first to make the Northwest Passage, which Franklin so narrowly missed, fell to Robert McClure (1850-53) and Richard Collinson (1850-55), who commanded the two ships sent north through Bering Strait to search for Franklin. McClure accomplished the passage on foot after losing his ship in the ice in Barrow Strait, but Collinson brought his vessel safely through to England. The Northwest Passage was not again made until Roald Amundsen navigated the tiny Gjoa, a sailing sloop with gasoline engine, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, 1903-06.
Yankee whalers each year had been venturing further north in Davis Strait and Baffin Bay and Bering Sea, but America had taken no active part in polar exploration until the sympathy aroused by the tragic disappearance of Franklin induced Henry Grinnell and George Peabody to send out the Advance in charge of Elisha Kent Kane to search for Franklin north of Smith Sound. In spite of inexperience, which resulted in scurvy, fatal accidents, privations, and the loss of his ship, Kane's achievements (1853-55) were very brilliant. He discovered and entered Kane Basin, which forms the beginning of the passage to the polar ocean, explored both shores of the new sea, and outlined what has since been called the American route to the Pole.
Sixteen years later (1871) another American, Charles Francis Hall, who had gained much arctic experience by a successful search for additional traces and relics of Franklin (1862-69), sailed the Polaris through Kane Basin and Kennedy Channel, also through Hall Basin and Robeson Channel, which he discovered, into the polar ocean itself, thus completing the exploration of the outlet which Kane had begun. He took his vessel to the then unprecedented (for a ship) latitude of 82 deg. 11'. But Hall's explorations, begun so auspiciously, were suddenly terminated by his tragic death in November from over-exertion caused by a long sledge journey.
When the ice began to move the ensuing year, his party sought to return, but the Polaris was caught in the deadly grip of an impassable ice pack. After two months of drifting, part of the crew, with some Eskimo men and women, alarmed by the groaning and crashing of the ice during a furious autumn storm, camped on an ice floe which shortly afterwards separated from the ship. For five months, December to April, they lived on this cold and desolate raft, which carried them safely 1300 miles to Labrador, where they were picked up by the Tigress. During the winter one of the Eskimo women presented the party with a baby, so that their number had increased during the arduous experience. Meanwhile the Polaris had been beached on the Greenland shore, and those remaining on the ship were eventually also rescued.
In 1875 Great Britain began an elaborate attack on the Pole via what was now known as the American route, two ships most lavishly equipped being despatched under command of George Nares. He succeeded in navigating the Alert fourteen miles further north than the Polaris had penetrated four years previous. Before the winter set in, Aldrich on land reached 82 deg. 48', which was three miles nearer the Pole than Parry's mark made forty-eight years before, and the following spring Markham gained 83 deg. 20' on the polar ocean. Other parties explored several hundred miles of coast line. But Nares was unable to cope with the scurvy, which disabled thirty-six of his men, or with the severe frosts, which cost the life of one man and seriously injured others.
The next expedition to this region was that sent out under the auspices of the United States government and commanded by Lieutenant—now Major-General—A. W. Greely, U. S. A., to establish at Lady Franklin Bay the American circumpolar station (1881). Greely during the two years at Fort Conger carried on extensive explorations of Ellesmere Land and the Greenland coast, and by the assistance of his two lieutenants, Lockwood and Brainard, wrested from Great Britain the record which she had held for 300 years. Greely's mark was 83 deg. 24', which bettered the British by four miles. As the relief ship, promised for 1883, failed to reach him or to land supplies at the prearranged point south of Fort Conger, the winter of 1883-84 was passed in great misery and horror. When help finally came to the camp at Cape Sabine, seven men only were alive.
While these important events were occurring in the vicinity of Greenland, interesting developments were also taking place in that half of the polar area north of Siberia. When in 1867 an American whaler, Thomas Long, reported new land, Wrangell Land, about 500 miles northwest of Bering Strait, many hailed the discovery as that of the edge of a supposed continent extending from Asia across the Pole to Greenland, for the natives around Bering Strait had long excited explorers by their traditions of an icebound big land beyond the horizon. Such extravagant claims were made for the new land that Commander De Long, U. S. N., determined to explore it and use it as a base for gaining the Pole. But his ship, the Jeannette, was caught in the ice (September, 1879) and carried right through the place where the new continent was supposed to be. For nearly two years De Long's party remained helpless prisoners until in June, 1881, the ship was crushed and sank, forcing the men to take refuge on the ice floes in mid ocean, 150 miles from the New Siberian Islands. They saved several boats and sledges and a small supply of provisions and water. After incredible hardships and suffering, G. W. Melville, the chief engineer, who was in charge of one of the boats, with nine men, reached, on September 26, a Russian village on the Lena. All the others perished, some being lost at sea, by the foundering of the boats, while others, including De Long, had starved to death after reaching the desolate Siberian coast.
Three years later some Eskimos found washed ashore on the southeast coast of Greenland several broken biscuit boxes and lists of stores, which are said to be in De Long's handwriting. The startling circumstance that these relics in their long drift from where the ship sank had necessarily passed across or very near to the Pole aroused great speculation as to the probable currents in the polar area. Nansen, who had already made the first crossing of Greenland's ice cap, argued that the same current which had guided the relics on their long journey would similarly conduct a ship. He therefore constructed a unique craft, the Fram, so designed that when hugged by the ice pack she would not be crushed, but would be lifted up and rest on the ice; he provisioned the vessel for five years and allowed her to be frozen in the ice near where the Jeannette had sunk, 78 deg. 50' N., 134 deg. E. (September 25, 1893). When at the end of eighteen months the ship had approached 314 miles nearer to the Pole, Nansen and one companion, Johansen, with kayaks, dogs, sledges, and three months' provisions, deliberately left the ship and plunged northward toward the Pole, March 14, 1895. In twenty-three days the two men had overcome one-third of the distance to the Pole, reaching 86 deg. 12'. To continue onward would have meant certain death, so they turned back. When their watches ran down Providence guided them, and the marvelous physique of both sustained them through fog and storm and threatened starvation until they reached Franz Josef Land, late in August. There they built a hut of stones and killed bears for meat for the winter. In May, 1896, they resumed their southward journey, when fortunately they met the Englishman Jackson, who was exploring the Archipelago.
Meanwhile the Fram, after Nansen left her, continued her tortuous drifting across the upper world. Once she approached as near as 85 deg. 57' to the Pole—only fifteen miles less than Nansen's farthest. At last, in August, 1896, with the help of dynamite, she was freed from the grip of the ice and hurried home, arriving in time to participate in the welcome of Nansen, who had landed a few days earlier.
Franz Josef Land, where Nansen was rescued by Jackson, has served as the base of many dashes for the Pole. It was from its northernmost point that the illustrious young member of the royal family of Italy, the Duke of the Abruzzi, launched the party captained by Cagni that won from Nansen for the Latin race the honor of the farthest north, 86 deg. 34', in 1901.
This land, which consists of numerous islands, had been named after the Emperor of Austria-Hungary by Weyprecht and Payer, leaders of the Austrian-Hungarian polar expedition of 1872-74, who discovered and first explored the Archipelago.
It was from Spitzbergen that Andree, with two companions, sailed in his balloon toward the Pole, in July, 1897, never to be heard from again, except for three message buoys dropped in the sea a few miles from the starting-point.
The Northeast Passage was first achieved in 1878-1879 by Adolph Erik Nordenskjold. Step by step energetic explorers, principally Russian, had been mapping the arctic coasts of Europe and Siberia until practically all the headlands and islands were well defined.
Nordenskjold, whose name was already renowned for important researches in Greenland, Nova Zembla, and northern Asia, in less than two months guided the steam whaler Vega from Tromsoe, Norway, to the most easterly peninsula of Asia. But when barely more than 100 miles from Bering Strait, intervening ice blocked his hopes of passing from the Atlantic to the Pacific in a single season and held him fast for ten months.
No resume of polar exploration is complete without mention of Wm. Barents (1594-96) who, for the Dutch of Amsterdam, made three attempts to accomplish the Northeast Passage around Nova Zembla; Wm. Baffin, who discovered Baffin Bay and Smith Sound (1616); Wm. Scoresby, Sr., who reached by ship 81 deg. 30' N., 19' E. (1806), a record till Parry eclipsed it; Wm. Scoresby, Jr., who changed all ideas of East Greenland (1822) and made valuable scientific observations, and the German North Polar expedition of 1869-70. One of the ships of the latter was crushed in the ice and sank. The crew escaped to an ice floe on which they drifted in the darkness of an arctic winter for 1300 miles along the coast of Greenland to Frederiksthaal.
The preceding brief summary gives only an inadequate conception of the immense treasures of money and lives expended by the nations to explore the northern ice world and to attain the apex of the earth. All efforts to reach the Pole had failed, notwithstanding the unlimited sacrifice of gold and energy and blood which had been poured out without stint for nearly four centuries. But the sacrifice had not been without compensation. Those who had ventured their lives in the contest had not been actuated solely by the ambition to win a race—to breast the tape first—but to contribute, in Sir John Franklin's words, "to the extension of the bounds of science." The scores of expeditions, in addition to new geographical discoveries, had brought back a wealth of information about the animals and vegetable life, the winds and currents, deep sea temperatures, soundings, the magnetism of the earth, fossils and rock specimens, tidal data, etc., which have enriched many branches of science and greatly increased the sum of human knowledge.
A brief summer excursion to Greenland in 1886 aroused Robert E. Peary, a civil engineer in the United States Navy, to an interest in the polar problem. Peary a few years previously had been graduated from Bowdoin College second in his class, a position which means unusual mental vigor in an institution which is noted for the fine scholarship and intellect of its alumni. He realized at once that the goal which had eluded so many hundreds of ambitious and dauntless men could be won only by a new method of attack.
The first arctic problem with which Peary grappled was considered at that time in importance second only to the conquest of the Pole; namely, to determine the insularity of Greenland and the extent of its projection northward. At the very beginning of his first expedition to Greenland, in 1891, he suffered an accident which sorely taxed his patience as well as his body, and which is mentioned here as it illustrates the grit and stamina of his moral and physical make-up. As his ship, the Kite, was working its way through the ice fields off the Greenland shore, a cake of ice became wedged in the rudder, causing the wheel to reverse. One of the spokes jammed Peary's leg against the casement, making it impossible to extricate himself until both bones of the leg were broken. The party urged him to return to the United States for the winter and to resume his exploration the following year. But Peary insisted on being landed as originally planned at McCormick Bay, stating that the money of his friends had been invested in the project and that he must "make good" to them. The assiduous nursing of Mrs. Peary, aided by the bracing air, so speedily restored his strength that at the ensuing Christmas festivities which he arranged for the Eskimos, he out-raced on snowshoes all the natives and his own men!
In the following May, with one companion, Astrup, he ascended to the summit of the great ice cap which covers the interior of Greenland, 5000 to 8000 feet in elevation, and pushed northward for 500 miles over a region where the foot of man had never trod before, in temperatures ranging from 10 deg. to 50 deg. below zero, to Independence Bay, which he discovered and named, July 4, 1892. Imagine his surprise on descending from the tableland to enter a little valley radiant with gorgeous flowers and alive with murmuring bees, where musk oxen were lazily browsing.
This sledding journey, which he duplicated by another equally remarkable crossing of the ice cap three years later, defined the northern extension of Greenland and conclusively proved that it is an island instead of a continent extending to the Pole. In boldness of conception and brilliancy of results these two crossings of Greenland are unsurpassed in arctic history. The magnitude of Peary's feat is better appreciated when it is recalled that Nansen's historic crossing of the island was below the Arctic Circle, 1000 miles south of Peary's latitude, where Greenland is some 250 miles wide.
Peary now turned his attention to the Pole, which lay 396 geographical miles farther north than any man had penetrated on the western hemisphere. To get there by the American route he must break a virgin trail every mile north from Greely's 83 deg. 24'. No one had pioneered so great a distance northward. Markham and others had attained enduring fame by advancing the flag considerably less than 100 miles, Parry had pioneered 150 miles, and Nansen 128 from his ship.
His experiences in Greenland had convinced Peary, if possible more firmly than before, that the only way of surmounting this last and most formidable barrier was to adopt the manner of life, the food, the snowhouses, and the clothing of the Eskimos, who by centuries of experience had learned the most effective method of combating the rigors of arctic weather; to utilize the game of the northland, the arctic reindeer, musk ox, etc., which his explorations had proved comparatively abundant, thus with fresh meat keeping his men fit and good-tempered through the depressing winter night; and lastly to train the Eskimo to become his sledging crew.
In his first north polar expedition, which lasted for four years, 1898-1902, Peary failed to get nearer than 343 miles to the Pole. Each successive year dense packs of ice blocked the passage to the polar ocean, compelling him to make his base approximately 700 miles from the Pole, or 200 miles south of the headquarters of Nares, too great a distance from the Pole to be overcome in one short season. During this trying period, by sledging feats which in distance and physical obstacles overcome exceeded the extraordinary records made in Greenland, he explored and mapped hundreds of miles of coast line of Greenland and of the islands west and north of Greenland.
On the next attempt, Peary insured reaching the polar ocean by designing and constructing the Roosevelt, whose resistless frame crushed its way to the desired haven on the shores of the polar sea. From here he made that wonderful march of 1906 to 87 deg. 6', a new world's record. Winds of unusual fury, by opening big leads, robbed him of the Pole and nearly of his life.
The story of the last Peary expedition, which resulted in the discovery of the Pole and of the deep ocean surrounding it, is told in the present volume by Commander Peary. The 396 miles from Greely's farthest had been vanquished as follows: 1900, 30 miles; 1902, 23 miles; 1906, 169 miles; 1909, 174 miles.
No better proof of the minute care with which every campaign was prearranged can be given than the fact that, though Peary has taken hundreds of men north with him on his various expeditions, he has brought them all back, and in good health, with the exception of two, who lost their lives in accidents for which the leader was in no wise responsible. What a contrast this record is to the long list of fatalities from disease, frost, shipwreck, and starvation which in the popular mind has made the word arctic synonymous with tragedy and death.
Thus Robert E. Peary has crowned a life devoted to the exploration of the icy north and to the advancement of science by the hard-won discovery of the North Pole. The prize of four centuries of striving yielded at last to the most persistent and scientific attack ever waged against it. Peary's success was made possible by long experience, which gave him a thorough knowledge of the difficulties to be overcome, and by an unusual combination of mental and physical power—a resourcefulness which enabled him to find a way to surmount all obstacles, a tenacity and courage which knew no defeat, and a physical endowment such as nature gives to few men.
It has been well said that the glory of Peary's achievement belongs to the world and is shared by all mankind. But we, his fellow-countrymen, who have known how he has struggled these many years against discouragement and scoffing and how he has persevered under financial burdens that would have crushed less stalwart shoulders, specially rejoice that he has "made good at last," and that an American has become the peer of Hudson, Magellan, and Columbus.
GILBERT H. GROSVENOR.
National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C., U. S. A. August 30, 1910.
THE NORTH POLE
It may not be inapt to liken the attainment of the North Pole to the winning of a game of chess, in which all the various moves leading to a favorable conclusion had been planned in advance, long before the actual game began. It was an old game for me—a game which I had been playing for twenty-three years, with varying fortunes. Always, it is true, I had been beaten, but with every defeat came fresh knowledge of the game, its intricacies, its difficulties, its subtleties, and with every fresh attempt success came a trifle nearer; what had before appeared either impossible, or, at the best, extremely dubious, began to take on an aspect of possibility, and, at last, even of probability. Every defeat was analyzed as to its causes in all their bearings, until it became possible to believe that those causes could in future be guarded against and that, with a fair amount of good fortune, the losing game of nearly a quarter of a century could be turned into one final, complete success.
It is true that with this conclusion many well informed and intelligent persons saw fit to differ. But many others shared my views and gave without stint their sympathy and their help, and now, in the end, one of my greatest unalloyed pleasures is to know that their confidence, subjected as it was to many trials, was not misplaced, that their trust, their belief in me and in the mission to which the best years of my life have been given, have been abundantly justified.
But while it is true that so far as plan and method are concerned the discovery of the North Pole may fairly be likened to a game of chess, there is, of course, this obvious difference: in chess, brains are matched against brains. In the quest of the Pole it was a struggle of human brains and persistence against the blind, brute forces of the elements of primeval matter, acting often under laws and impulses almost unknown or but little understood by us, and thus many times seemingly capricious, freaky, not to be foretold with any degree of certainty. For this reason, while it was possible to plan, before the hour of sailing from New York, the principal moves of the attack upon the frozen North, it was not possible to anticipate all of the moves of the adversary. Had this been possible, my expedition of 1905-1906, which established the then "farthest north" record of 87 deg. 6', would have reached the Pole. But everybody familiar with the records of that expedition knows that its complete success was frustrated by one of those unforeseen moves of our great adversary—in that a season of unusually violent and continued winds disrupted the polar pack, separating me from my supporting parties, with insufficient supplies, so that, when almost within striking distance of the goal, it was necessary to turn back because of the imminent peril of starvation. When victory seemed at last almost within reach, I was blocked by a move which could not possibly have been foreseen, and which, when I encountered it, I was helpless to meet. And, as is well known, I and those with me were not only checkmated but very nearly lost our lives as well.
But all that is now as a tale that is told. This time it is a different and perhaps a more inspiring story, though the records of gallant defeat are not without their inspiration. And the point which it seems fit to make in the beginning is that success crowned the efforts of years because strength came from repeated defeats, wisdom from earlier error, experience from inexperience, and determination from them all.
Perhaps, in view of the striking manner in which the final event bore out the prophecies that I had made, it may be of interest to compare in some detail the plan of campaign that was announced, over two months before the Roosevelt sailed from New York on her final voyage to the North, with the manner in which that campaign was actually executed.
Early in May, 1908, in a published statement I sketched the following plan:
"I shall use the same ship, the Roosevelt; shall leave New York early in July; shall follow the same route north, via Sydney, C. B., Strait of Belle Isle, Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, and Smith Sound; shall use the same methods, equipments, and supplies; shall have a minimum party of white men, supplemented with Eskimos; shall take on these Eskimos and dogs in the Whale Sound region as before, and shall endeavor to force my ship to the same or similar winter quarters on the north shore of Grant Land as in the winter of 1905-1906.
"The sledge march will begin as before in February, but my route will be modified as follows: First, I shall follow the north coast of Grant Land as far west as Cape Columbia, and possibly beyond, instead of leaving this land at Point Moss as I did before.
"Second, leaving the land, my course will be more west of north than before, in order to counteract or allow for the easterly set of the ice between the north coast of Grant Land and the Pole, discovered on my last expedition. Another essential modification will be a more rigid massing of my sledge divisions en route, in order to prevent the possibility of a portion of the party being separated from the rest by the movement of the ice, with insufficient supplies for a protracted advance, as happened on the last expedition.
"There is no doubt in my mind that this 'big lead' (a lane of open water), encountered in both my upward and return marches in my last expedition, is an essentially permanent feature of this part of the Arctic Ocean. I have little doubt of my ability to make this 'lead,' instead of the north coast of Grant Land, my point of departure with fully loaded sledges. If this is done it will shorten the route to the Pole by nearly one hundred miles and distinctly simplify the proposition.
"On the return march in the next expedition I shall probably do voluntarily what I did involuntarily last time; that is, retreat upon the north coast of Greenland (a course diagonally with the set of the ice) instead of attempting to come back to the north coast of Grant Land (diagonally against the set of the ice). An adjunct of this program will probably be the establishment of a depot well up the north coast of Greenland by the first of the supporting parties returning to the ship."
The main features of this program I summarized as follows:
"First, the utilization of the Smith Sound or 'American' route. This must be accepted to-day as the best of all possible routes for a determined, aggressive attack upon the Pole. Its advantages are a land base one hundred miles nearer the Pole than is to be found at any other point of the entire periphery of the Arctic Ocean, a long stretch of coast line upon which to return, and a safe and (to me) well-known line of retreat independent of assistance, in the event of any mishap to the ship.
"Second, the selection of a winter base which commands a wider range of the central polar sea and its surrounding coasts than any other possible base in the Arctic regions. Cape Sheridan is practically equidistant from Crocker Land, from the remaining unknown portion of the northeast coast of Greenland, and from my 'Nearest the Pole' of 1906.
"Third, the use of sledges and Eskimo dogs. Man and the Eskimo dog are the only two machines capable of such adjustment as to meet the wide demands and contingencies of Arctic travel. Airships, motor cars, trained polar bears, etc., are all premature, except as a means of attracting public attention.
"Fourth, the use of the hyperborean aborigine (the Whale Sound Eskimo) for the rank and file of the sledge party. It seems unnecessary to enlarge upon the fact that the men whose heritage is life and work in that very region must present the best obtainable material for the personnel of a serious Arctic party. This is my program. The object of the work is the clearing up, or at least the fixing in their general proportions, of the remaining large problems in the American segment of the polar regions and the securing for the United States of that great world trophy which has been the object of effort and emulation among practically all the civilized nations of the world for the last three centuries."
The details of this plan have been here set forth so explicitly because the faithfulness with which they were carried out constitutes a record which is perhaps unique in the annals of Arctic exploration. Compare this scheme, if you please, with the manner of its execution. As had been planned, the expedition sailed from New York early in July, 1908, July 6, to be exact. It sailed from Sydney July 17, from Etah August 18, and arrived at Cape Sheridan, the winter quarters of the Roosevelt, on September 5, within a quarter of an hour of the same time it had arrived at the same spot three years before. The winter was occupied in hunting, in various side journeys, in making our sledging equipment, and in moving supplies from the Roosevelt along the northern shore of Grant Land to Cape Columbia, which was to be our point of departure from the land on our drive for the Pole itself.
The sledge divisions left the Roosevelt from February 15 to 22, 1909, rendezvoused at Cape Columbia, and on March 1 the expedition left Cape Columbia, heading across the Polar Ocean for the Pole. The 84th parallel was crossed on March 18, the 86th on March 23, the Italian record was passed the next day, the 88th parallel on April 2, the 89th on April 4, and the North Pole was reached on April 6 at ten o'clock in the morning. I spent thirty hours at the Pole with Matt Henson, Ootah, the faithful Eskimo who had gone with me in 1906 to 87 deg. 6', the then "farthest north," and three other Eskimos who had also been with me on previous expeditions. The six of us left the much desired "ninety north" on April 7 on the return journey and reached land at Cape Columbia again on April 23.
It will be noted that while the journey from Cape Columbia to the Pole consumed thirty-seven days, (though only twenty-seven marches) we returned from the Pole to Cape Columbia in only sixteen days. The extraordinary speed of the return journey is to be accounted for by the fact that we merely had to retrace our old trail instead of making a new one, and because we were fortunate in encountering no delays. Excellent conditions of ice and weather also contributed, not to mention the fact that the exhilaration of success lent wings to our sorely battered feet. But Ootah, the Eskimo, had his own explanation. Said he: "The devil is asleep or having trouble with his wife, or we should never have come back so easily."
It will be noted in this comparison, that practically the only feature of the plan from which essential deviation was made was in returning to Cape Columbia on the coast of Grant Land instead of further eastward to the northern coast of Greenland as I had done in 1906. This change was made for excellent reasons, which will be made clear in their proper place. Upon this record there is only one shadow—a tragic one indeed. I refer, of course, to the lamentable death of Prof. Ross G. Marvin, who was drowned on April 10, four days after the Pole had been reached, forty-five miles north of Cape Columbia, while returning from 86 deg. 38' north, in command of one of the supporting parties. With this sad exception, the history of the expedition is flawless. We returned as we went, in our own ship, battered but unharmed, in excellent health and with a record of complete success.
There is a lesson in all this—a lesson so obvious that it is perhaps superfluous to point it out. The plan, so carefully made and executed with such faithfulness to detail, was composed of a number of elements, the absence of any one of which might have been fatal to success. We could scarcely have succeeded without the help of our faithful Eskimos; nor even with them, had it not been for our knowledge of their capacities for work and endurance, and for the confidence which years of acquaintance had taught them to repose in me. We could certainly not have succeeded without the Eskimo dogs which furnished the traction power for our sledges, and so enabled us to carry our supplies where no other power on earth could have moved them with the requisite speed and certainty. It may be that we could not have succeeded without the improved form of sledge which I was able to construct and which, combining in its construction, strength, lightness, and ease of traction, made the heavy task of the dogs far easier than it would otherwise have been. It may even be that we should have failed had it not been for so simple a thing as an improved form of water boiler which I was fortunate enough to have hit upon. By its aid we were able to melt ice and make tea in ten minutes. On our previous journeys this process had taken an hour. Tea is an imperative necessity on such a driving journey, and this little invention saved one and one-half hours in each day while we were struggling toward the Pole on that journey when time was the very essence of success.
Success crowned the work, it is true, but, for all that, it is a genuine pleasure to reflect that even had we failed, I should have had nothing to reproach myself with in the way of neglect. Every possible contingency that years of experience had taught me to expect was provided for, every weak spot guarded, every precaution taken. I had spent a quarter of a century playing the Arctic game. I was fifty-three years old, an age beyond which, perhaps, with the one exception of Sir John Franklin, no man had ever attempted to prosecute work in the Arctic regions. I was a little past the zenith of my strength, a little lacking, perhaps, in the exuberant elasticity and elan of more youthful years, a little past the time when most men begin to leave the strenuous things to the younger generation; but these drawbacks were fully balanced perhaps by a trained and hardened endurance, a perfect knowledge of myself, and of how to conserve my strength. I knew it was my last game upon the great Arctic chess-board. It was win this time or be forever defeated.
The lure of the North! It is a strange and a powerful thing. More than once I have come back from the great frozen spaces, battered and worn and baffled, sometimes maimed, telling myself that I had made my last journey thither, eager for the society of my kind, the comforts of civilization and the peace and serenity of home. But somehow, it was never many months before the old restless feeling came over me. Civilization began to lose its zest for me. I began to long for the great white desolation, the battles with the ice and the gales, the long, long arctic night, the long, long arctic day, the handful of odd but faithful Eskimos who had been my friends for years, the silence and the vastness of the great, white lonely North. And back I went accordingly, time after time, until, at last, my dream of years came true.
A great many persons have asked when I first conceived the idea of trying to reach the North Pole. That question is hard to answer. It is impossible to point to any day or month and to say, "Then the idea first came to me." The North Pole dream was a gradual and almost involuntary evolution from earlier work in which it had no part. My interest in arctic work dates back to 1885, when as a young man my imagination was stirred by reading accounts of explorations by Nordenskjoeld in the interior of Greenland. These studies took full possession of my mind and led to my undertaking, entirely alone, a summer trip to Greenland in the following year. Somewhere in my subconscious self, even so long ago as that, there may have been gradually dawning a hope that I might some day reach the Pole itself. Certain it is, the lure of the North, the "arctic fever," as it has been called, entered my veins then, and I came to have a feeling of fatality, a feeling that the reason and intent of my existence was the solution of the mystery of the frozen fastnesses of the Arctic.
But the actual naming of the Pole as the object of an expedition did not materialize until 1898, when the first expedition of the Peary Arctic Club went north with the avowed intention of reaching ninety north—if it were possible. Since then I have made six different attempts, in six different years, to reach the coveted point. The sledging season, when such a "dash" is possible, extends from about the middle of February until the middle of June. Before the middle of February there is not sufficient light, and after the middle of June there is likely to be too much open water.
During these six former attempts made by me to win the prize, the successive latitudes of 83 deg. 52', 84 deg. 17', and 87 deg. 6' were attained, the last giving back to the United States the record of "farthest north," which had for a time been wrested from it by Nansen, and from him in turn by the Duke of the Abruzzi.
In writing the story of this last and successful expedition, it is necessary to go back to my return from the former expedition of 1905-6. Before the Roosevelt entered port, and before I reached New York, I was planning for another journey into the North, which, if I could obtain the essential funds—and retained my health—I intended to get under way as soon as possible. It is a principle in physics that a ponderable body moves along the line of least resistance; but that principle does not seem to apply to the will of man. Every obstacle which has ever been placed in my way, whether physical or mental, whether an open "lead" or the opposition of human circumstances, has ultimately acted as a spur to the determination to accomplish the fixed purpose of my life—if I lived long enough.
On my return in 1906, great encouragement was received from Mr. Jesup, the president of the Peary Arctic Club, who had contributed so generously to my former expeditions, and in whose honor I had named the northernmost point of land in the world, latitude 83 deg. 39', Cape Morris K. Jesup. He said, in so many words, that he would "see me through" on another journey north. His promise meant that I should not have to beg all the money in small sums from a more or less reluctant world.
The winter of 1906-7 and the spring of 1907 were devoted to presenting to the world the results of the previous undertaking, and to the work of interesting friends as far as possible in another expedition. We had the ship, which had cost about $100,000 in 1905; but $75,000 more was needed for new boilers and other changes, for equipment and for operating expenses. While the bulk of the necessary funds was furnished by the members and friends of the Peary Arctic Club, a very considerable amount came from all parts of the country in contributions ranging from $100 to $5 and even $1. These donations were not less appreciated than the big ones, because they showed the friendliness and the interest of the givers, and demonstrated to me the general recognition of the fact that while the expedition was financed by private individuals, it was in spirit a national affair.
At last the funds, actual and promised, were in such amount as to authorize our contracting for new boilers for the Roosevelt, and ordering certain modifications in her structure which would fit her more effectively for another voyage: such as enlarging the quarters forward for the crew, adding a lug sail to the foremast, and changing the interior arrangements somewhat. The general features of the ship had already proved themselves so well adapted for the purpose for which she was intended that no alteration in them was required.
Experience had taught me how to figure on delays in the North; but the exasperating delays of ship contractors at home had not yet entered into my scheme of reckoning. Contracts for this work on the Roosevelt were signed in the winter, and called for the completion of the ship by July 1, 1907. Repeated oral promises were added to contractual agreements that the work should certainly be done on that date; but, as a matter of fact, the new boilers were not completed and installed until September, thus absolutely negativing any possibility of going north in the summer of 1907.
The failure of the contractors to live up to their word, with the consequent delay of a year, was a serious blow to me. It meant that I must attack the problem one year older; it placed the initiation of the expedition further in the future, with all the possible contingencies that might occur within a year; and it meant the bitterness of hope deferred.
On the day when it became lamentably clear that I positively could not sail north that year, I felt much as I had felt when I had been obliged to turn back from 87 deg. 6', with only the empty bauble "farthest north," instead of the great prize which I had almost strained my life out to achieve. Fortunately I did not know that Fate was even then clenching her fist for yet another and more crushing blow.
While trying to possess my soul in patience despite the unjustified delay, there came the heaviest calamity encountered in all my arctic work—the death of my friend, Morris K. Jesup. Without his promised help the future expedition seemed impossible. It may be said with perfect truth that to him, more than to any other one man, had been due the inception and the continuance of the Peary Arctic Club, and the success of the work thus far. In him we lost not only a man who was financially a tower of strength in the work, but I lost an intimate personal friend in whom I had absolute trust. For a time it seemed as if this were the end of everything; that all the effort and money put into the project had been wasted. Mr. Jesup's death, added to the delay caused by the default of the contractors, seemed at first an absolutely paralyzing defeat.
Nor was it much help that there was no lack of well-meaning persons who were willing to assure me that the year's delay and Mr. Jesup's death were warnings indicating that I should never find the Pole.
Yet, when I gathered myself together and faced the situation squarely, I realized that the project was something too big to die; that it never, in the great scheme of things, would be allowed to fall through. This feeling carried me past many a dead center of fatigue and utter ignorance as to where the rest of the money for the expedition was to be obtained. The end of the winter and the beginning of the spring of 1908 were marked by more than one blue day for everybody concerned in the success of the expedition.
Repairs and changes in the Roosevelt had exhausted all the funds in the Club's treasury. We still needed the money for purchase of supplies and equipment, pay of crew, and running expenses. Mr. Jesup was gone; the country had not recovered from the financial crash of the previous fall; every one was poor.
Then from this lowest ebb the tide turned. Mrs. Jesup, in the midst of her distracting grief, sent a munificent check which enabled us to order essential items of special supplies and equipment which required time for preparation.
General Thomas H. Hubbard accepted the presidency of the Club, and added a second large check to his already generous contribution. Henry Parish, Anton A. Raven, Herbert L. Bridgman—the "Old Guard" of the Club—who had stood shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Jesup from the inception of the organization, stood firm now to keep the organization of the Club intact; other men came forward, and the crisis was past. But the money still came hard. It was the subject of my every waking thought; and even in sleep it would not let me rest, but followed with mocking and elusive dreams. It was a dogged, dull, desperate time, with the hopes of my whole life rising and falling day by day.
Then came an unexpected rift in the clouds, the receipt of a very friendly letter from Mr. Zenas Crane, the great paper manufacturer, of Massachusetts, who had contributed to a previous expedition, but whom I had never met. Mr. Crane wrote that he was deeply interested; that the project was one which should have the support of every one who cared for big things and for the prestige of the country, and he asked me to come to see him, if I could make it convenient. I could. I did. He gave a check for $10,000 and promised to give more if it should be required. The promise was kept, and a little later he accepted the vice-presidency of the Club. What this $10,000 meant to me at that time would need the pen of Shakespere to make entirely clear.
From this time on the funds came in slowly but steadily, to an amount that, combined with rigid economy and thorough knowledge of what was and what was not needed, permitted the purchase of the necessary supplies and equipment.
During all this time of waiting, a small flood of "crank" letters poured in from all over the country. There was an incredibly large number of persons who were simply oozing with inventions and schemes, the adoption of which would absolutely insure the discovery of the Pole. Naturally, in view of the contemporaneous drift of inventive thought, flying machines occupied a high place on the list. Motor cars, guaranteed to run over any kind of ice, came next. One man had a submarine boat that he was sure would do the trick, though he did not explain how we were to get up through the ice after we had traveled to the Pole beneath it.
Still another chap wanted to sell us a portable sawmill. It was his enterprising idea that this should be set up on the shore of the central polar sea and that I was to use it for shaping lumber with which to build a wooden tunnel over the ice of the polar sea all the way to the Pole. Another chap proposed that a central soup station be installed where the other man would have set up his sawmill, and that a series of hose lines be run thence over the ice so that the outlying parties struggling over the ice to the Pole could be warmed and invigorated with hot soup from the central station.
Perhaps the gem of the whole collection was furnished by an inventor who desired me to play the part of the "human cannon-ball." He would not disclose the details of his invention, apparently lest I should steal it, but it amounted to this: If I could get the machine up there, and could get it pointed in exactly the right direction, and could hold on long enough, it would shoot me to the Pole without fail. This was surely a man of one idea. He was so intent on getting me shot to the Pole that he seemed to be utterly careless of what happened to me in the process of landing there or of how I should get back.
Many friends of the expedition who could not send cash sent useful articles of equipment, for the comfort or amusement of the men. Among such articles were a billiard table, various games, and innumerable books. A member of the expedition having said to a newspaper man, a short time before the Roosevelt sailed, that we had not much reading matter, the ship was deluged with books, magazines, and newspapers, which came literally in wagon loads. They were strewn in every cabin, in every locker, on the mess tables, on the deck,—everywhere. But the generosity of the public was very gratifying, and there was much good reading among the books and magazines.
When the time came for the Roosevelt to sail, we had everything which we absolutely needed in the way of equipment, including boxes of Christmas candy, one for every man on board, a gift from Mrs. Peary.
It is a great satisfaction to me that this whole expedition, together with the ship, was American from start to finish. We did not purchase a Newfoundland or Norwegian sealer and fix it over for our purposes, as in the case of other expeditions. The Roosevelt was built of American timber in an American shipyard, engined by an American firm with American metal, and constructed on American designs. Even the most trivial items of supplies were of American manufacture. As regards personnel almost the same can be said. Though Captain Bartlett and the crew were Newfoundlanders, the Newfoundlanders are our next-door neighbors and essentially our first cousins. This expedition went north in an American-built ship, by the American route, in command of an American, to secure if possible an American trophy. The Roosevelt was built with a knowledge of the requirements of arctic navigation, gained by the experience of an American on six former voyages into the Arctic.
I was extremely fortunate in the personnel of this last and successful expedition, for in choosing the men I had the membership of the previous expedition to draw from. A season in the Arctic is a great test of character. One may know a man better after six months with him beyond the Arctic circle than after a lifetime of acquaintance in cities. There is a something—I know not what to call it—in those frozen spaces, that brings a man face to face with himself and with his companions; if he is a man, the man comes out; and, if he is a cur, the cur shows as quickly.
First and most valuable of all was Bartlett, master of the Roosevelt, whose ability had been proved on the expedition of 1905-6. Robert A. Bartlett, "Captain Bob," as we affectionately call him, comes from a family of hardy Newfoundland navigators, long associated with arctic work. He was thirty-three when we last sailed north. Blue-eyed, brown-haired, stocky, and steel-muscled Bartlett, whether at the wheel of the Roosevelt hammering a passage through the floes, or tramping and stumbling over the ice pack, with the sledges, or smoothing away the troubles of the crew, was always the same—tireless, faithful, enthusiastic, true as the compass.
Matthew A. Henson, my negro assistant, has been with me in one capacity or another since my second trip to Nicaragua, in 1887. I have taken him with me on each and all of my northern expeditions, except the first, in 1886, and almost without exception on each of my "farthest" sledge trips. This position I have given him, primarily because of his adaptability and fitness for the work; secondly on account of his loyalty. He has shared all the physical hardships of my arctic work. He is now about forty years old, and can handle a sledge better, and is probably a better dog-driver, than any other man living, except some of the best of the Eskimo hunters themselves.
Ross G. Marvin, my secretary and assistant, who lost his life on the expedition; George A. Wardwell, chief engineer; Percy, the steward; and Murphy, the boatswain, had all been with me before. Dr. Wolf, who was the surgeon of the expedition of 1905-6, had made professional arrangements which prevented him from going north again, and his place was taken by Dr. J. W. Goodsell, of New Kensington, Pa.
Dr. Goodsell is a descendant of an old English family that has had representatives in America for two hundred and fifty years. His great grandfather was a soldier in Washington's army when Cornwallis surrendered, and his father, George H. Goodsell, spent many adventurous years at sea and fought through the Civil War in the Union army. Dr. Goodsell was born near Leechburg, Pa., in 1873. He received his medical degree from Pulte Medical College, Cincinnati, O., and has since practised medicine at New Kensington, Pa., specializing in clinical microscopy. He is a member of the Homeopathic Medical Society of Pennsylvania and of the American Medical Association. At the time of his departure on the expedition he was president of the Allegheny Valley Medical Society. His publications include "Direct Microscopic Examination as Applied to Preventive Medicine and the Newer Therapy" and "Tuberculosis and Its Diagnosis."
As the scope of this expedition was wider than that of the previous ones, contemplating more extensive tidal observations for the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, and, if conditions permitted, lateral sledge trips east to Cape Morris K. Jesup and west to Cape Thomas Hubbard, I enlarged my field party, as it may be called, and added to the expedition Mr. Donald B. MacMillan, of Worcester Academy, and Mr. George Borup, of New York City.
MacMillan is the son of a sea captain and was born at Provincetown, Mass., in 1874. His father's ship sailed from Boston nearly thirty years ago and was never heard from again. His mother died the next year, leaving the son with four other young children. When MacMillan was fifteen years old he went to live with his sister at Freeport, Me., where he was prepared in the local high school to enter Bowdoin College, being graduated from my alma mater in 1898. Like Borup, MacMillan excelled in undergraduate athletics, played half-back on the Bowdoin 'varsity eleven and won a place on the track team. From 1898 to 1900 he was principal of the Levi Hall School at North Gorham, Me., going thence to become head master of the Latin Department at Swarthmore Preparatory School of Swarthmore, Pa. Here he remained until 1903 when he became instructor in Mathematics and Physical Training at Worcester Academy, Mass., where he remained until he went north with the expedition. He holds the Humane Society's certificate for saving a number of lives some years ago, an exploit which it is difficult to induce him to talk about.
George Borup was born at Sing Sing, N. Y., Sept. 2, 1885. He prepared for Yale at Groton School, where he spent the years from 1889 to 1903, and was graduated from Yale in 1907. At college he was prominent in athletics, was a member of the Yale track and golf teams, and made a reputation as a wrestler. After his graduation he spent a year as a special apprentice in the machine shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at Altoona, Pa.
To Captain Bartlett I left the selection of his officers and men, with the single exception of the chief engineer.
The personnel of the expedition, as finally completed when the Roosevelt left Sydney on the 17th of July, 1908, included twenty-two men, as follows: Robert E. Peary, commanding expedition; Robert A. Bartlett, master of the Roosevelt; George A. Wardwell, chief engineer; Dr. J. W. Goodsell, surgeon; Prof. Ross G. Marvin, assistant; Donald B. MacMillan, assistant; George Borup, assistant; Matthew A. Henson, assistant; Thomas Gushue, mate; John Murphy, boatswain; Banks Scott, second engineer; Charles Percy, steward; William Pritchard, cabin boy; John Connors, John Coady, John Barnes, Denis Murphy, George Percy, seamen; James Bently, Patrick Joyce, Patrick Skeans, John Wiseman, firemen.
The supplies for the expedition were abundant in quantity, but not numerous in variety. Years of experience had given me the knowledge of exactly what I wanted and how much of it. The absolutely essential supplies for a serious arctic expedition are few, but they should be of the best quality. Luxuries have no place in arctic work.
Supplies for an arctic expedition naturally divide themselves into two classes: those for the sledge work in the field; those for the ship, going and returning, and in winter quarters. The supplies for sledge work are of a special character, and have to be prepared and packed in such a way as to secure the maximum of nourishment with the minimum of weight, of bulk, and of tare (that is, the weight of the packing). The essentials, and the only essentials, needed in a serious arctic sledge journey, no matter what the season, the temperature, or the duration of the journey—whether one month or six—are four: pemmican, tea, ship's biscuit, condensed milk. Pemmican is a prepared and condensed food, made from beef, fat and dried fruits. It may be regarded as the most concentrated and satisfying of all meat foods, and is absolutely indispensable in protracted arctic sledge journeys.
The food for use on shipboard and in winter quarters comprises standard commercial supplies. My expeditions have been perhaps peculiar in omitting one item—and that is meat. For this important addition to arctic food I have always depended on the country itself. Meat is the object of the hunting expeditions of the winter months—not sport, as some have fancied.
Here are a few of the items and figures on our list of supplies for the last expedition: Flour, 16,000 pounds; coffee, 1,000 pounds; tea, 800 pounds; sugar, 10,000 pounds; kerosene, 3,500 gallons; bacon, 7,000 pounds; biscuit, 10,000 pounds; condensed milk, 100 cases; pemmican, 30,000 pounds; dried fish, 3,000 pounds; smoking tobacco, 1,000 pounds.
From her berth beside the recreation pier at the foot of East Twenty-fourth Street, New York, the Roosevelt steamed north on the last expedition, about one o'clock in the afternoon of July 6, 1908. As the ship backed out into the river, a cheer that echoed over Blackwell's Island went up from the thousands who had gathered on the piers to see us off; while the yacht fleet, the tugboats and the ferryboats tooted their good wishes. It was an interesting coincidence that the day on which we started for the coldest spot on earth was about the hottest which New York had known for years. There were thirteen deaths from heat and seventy-two heat prostrations recorded in Greater New York for that day, while we were bound for a region where sixty below zero is not an exceptional temperature.
We started with about one hundred guests of the Peary Arctic Club on board the Roosevelt, and several members of the Club, including the president, General Thomas H. Hubbard; the vice-president, Zenas Crane; and the secretary and treasurer, Herbert L. Bridgman.
As we steamed up the river the din grew louder and louder, the whistles of the power-houses and the factories adding their salutations to the tooting of the river craft. At Blackwell's Island many of the inmates were out in force to wave us their good-bys, and their farewells were not the less appreciated because given by men whom society had placed under restraint for society's good. Anyhow, they wished us well. I hope they are all enjoying liberty now, and, what is better, deserving it. Near Fort Totten we passed President Roosevelt's naval yacht, the Mayflower, and her small gun roared out a parting salute, while the officers and men waved and cheered. Surely no ship ever started for the end of the earth with more heart-stirring farewells than those which followed the Roosevelt.
Just before we reached the Stepping Stone Light, Mrs. Peary, the members and guests of the Peary Arctic Club, and myself were transferred to the tug Narkeeta and returned to New York. The ship went on to Oyster Bay, Long Island, the summer home of President Roosevelt, where Mrs. Peary and I were to lunch with the President and Mrs. Roosevelt the following day.
Theodore Roosevelt is to me the most intensely vital man, and the biggest man, America has ever produced. He has that vibrant energy and enthusiasm which is the basis of all real power and accomplishment. When it came to christening the ship by whose aid it was hoped to fight our way toward the most inaccessible spot on earth, the name of Roosevelt seemed to be the one and inevitable choice. It held up as ideals before the expedition those very qualities of strength, insistence, persistence, and triumph over obstacles, which have made the twenty-sixth President of the United States so great.
In the course of that last luncheon at Sagamore Hill, President Roosevelt reiterated what he had said to me so many times before, that he was earnestly and profoundly interested in my work, and that he believed I would succeed if success were possible.
After luncheon the President and Mrs. Roosevelt, with their three sons, came on board the ship with Mrs. Peary and me. Mr. Bridgman was on deck, to welcome them in the name of the Peary Arctic Club. The Roosevelt party remained on board about an hour; the President inspected every part of the ship, shook hands with every member of the expedition present, including the crew, and even made the acquaintance of my Eskimo dogs, North Star and the others, which had been brought down from one of my islands in Casco Bay, on the coast of Maine. As he was going over the rail, I said to him: "Mr. President, I shall put into this effort everything there is in me—physical, mental, and moral." And he replied, "I believe in you, Peary, and I believe in your success—if it is within the possibility of man."
The Roosevelt stopped at New Bedford for the whale-boats, and also made a short stop at Eagle Island, our summer home on the coast of Maine, to take aboard the massive, steel-bound spare rudder, which we carried as a precaution against disaster in the coming battle royal with the ice. On the former expedition, when we had no extra rudder, we could have used two. But, as things turned out this time, when we had the extra rudder we had no occasion to use it.
Our departure from Eagle Island was timed so that Mrs. Peary and I should arrive by train at Sydney, Cape Breton, the same day as the ship. I have a very tender feeling for the picturesque little town of Sydney. Eight times have I headed north from there on my arctic quest. My recollections of the town date back to 1886, when I went there with Captain Jackman in the whaler Eagle, and lay at the coal wharves for a day or two filling the ship with coal for my very first northern voyage, the summer cruise to Greenland, during which journey the "arctic fever" got a grip upon me from which I have never recovered.
Since that time the town has grown from a little settlement of one decent hotel and a few houses, to a prosperous city with seventeen thousand inhabitants, many industries, and one of the largest steel plants in the western hemisphere. My reason for choosing Sydney as a starting point was because of the coal mines there. It is the place nearest to the arctic regions where a ship can fill with coal.
My feelings, on leaving Sydney this last time, though difficult to describe, were different from those at the start of any previous expedition. I felt no uneasiness once the lines were cast off, for I knew that everything had been done which could be done to insure success, and that every essential item of supplies was on board. On former journeys I had sometimes felt anxiety, but through the whole of this last expedition I allowed nothing to worry me. Perhaps this feeling of surety was because every possible contingency had been discounted, perhaps because the setbacks and knock-out blows received in the past had dulled my sense of danger.
The Roosevelt having coaled at Sydney, we crossed the bay to North Sydney to take on some last items of supplies. When we started to leave the wharf over there we discovered that we were aground, and had to wait an hour or so for the tide to rise. In our efforts to move the ship, one of the whale-boats was crushed between the davits and the side of the pier; but after eight arctic campaigns one does not regard a little accident like that as a bad omen.
We got away from North Sydney about half past three in the afternoon of July 17, in glittering golden sunshine. As we passed the signal station, they signaled us, "Good-by and a prosperous voyage"; we replied, "Thank you," and dipped our colors.
A little tug, which we had chartered to take our guests back to Sydney, followed the Roosevelt as far as Low Point Light, outside the harbor; there she ran alongside, and Mrs. Peary and the children, and Colonel Borup, with two or three other friends, transferred to her. As my five-year-old son, Robert, kissed me good-by, he said, "Come back soon, dad." With reluctant eyes I watched the little tug grow smaller and smaller in the blue distance. Another farewell—and there had been so many! Brave, noble little woman! You have borne with me the brunt of all my arctic work. But, somehow, this parting was less sad than any which had gone before. I think that we both felt it was the last.