Palin, Michael Erebus: The Story of a Ship. Potter, Russell A Poulsom, Neville W. London: Savannah. Shapton, Leanne 20 March The New York Times. He and his crew were never heard from again. Until their belongings began turning up on the Canadian tundra. Simmons, Dan The Terror. Royal Navy Arctic exploration.
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Sir John Franklin: Fabled Arctic ship found
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Explorations of the Arctic coastline had led to great optimism that finding and charting the final part of the North-West Passage — the seaway linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans — was now within reach. Explorer John Franklin , who had made two previous attempts to find it, was keen to claim the prize. It was the last time any of the crewmen were ever seen alive.
The exact circumstances of their deaths remain a mystery to this day.
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The men on board the ships of Franklin's expedition faced bitter conditions in extreme cold taking a balaclava off can rip the skin and beard from the chin! The crews therefore prepared as best as they could. Curator Claire Warrior answers the question: what would life have been like on the expedition? But we do have lots of evidence from other sources about what the men might have gone through.
Using these, we can come as close as we possibly can to understanding what the crews of Erebus and Terror might have seen and felt. Expeditions set off in the spring, so that they could get as far as possible before the winter, when their progress was halted. The Arctic could be a place of freezing fog and heaving seas, and the expedition crews were sometimes at the mercy of the immense pressure of the sea-ice and the unpredictable behaviour of icebergs. It was also, at times, breathtakingly beautiful, with dazzling colours and glowing skies. But they had enough supplies for about three years, and British expeditions were experienced at overwintering in the Arctic In the spring, they sailed south down Peel Sound but, off the northernmost point of King William Island, were trapped by the ice flow down the McClintock Channel.
In the spring of , a party from the expedition travelled across the ice to Point Victory on shore and deposited a written record of their progress. It is thought they reached Cape Herschel on the south coast of the island, filling in the unexplored part of the North-West Passage. Sir John Franklin died in June that year. Weakened by starvation and scurvy, the surviving men headed south for the Great Fish River.
Most died on the march along the west coast of King William Island. Along with a boat with two skeletons and piles of supplies, Hobson located the cairn and retrieved Fitzjames and Crozier's note, the sole piece of written evidence from the Franklin expedition. According to searchers, some Inuit families had found papers and books—possibly the expedition's log books and official charts—but they had been given to children to play with and had blown away. Back in England, Franklin was again hailed as a hero. His old friend Sir John Richardson wrote that Franklin had accomplished the mission: "They forged the last link of the Northwest Passage with their lives.
In , his ship Investigator , approaching from the west, got stuck in ice north of Banks Island and McClure's men were forced to march to another ship that had approached from the east. They traversed the Northwest Passage in the process. But the first explorer to navigate the passage by ship, the original goal of the Franklin expedition, was Roald Amundsen in In the early s, Canadian anthropologist Owen Beattie and his research team exhumed the three bodies on Beechey Island and conducted forensic testing.
He found very high levels of lead in all three, as well as in bones previously collected on King William Island. In his bestseller co-written with John Geiger, Frozen in Time : The Fate of the Franklin Expedition , Beattie suggested the lead solder used to seal the expedition's canned provisions had leached into the food, resulting in neurological impairment that could have contributed to the men's deaths.
More recently, historians have moved away from the lead-in-the-cans theory. Researchers now believe the men probably succumbed to a combination of exposure, starvation, scurvy, tuberculosis , Addison's disease , and even severe zinc deficiency. Multiple search efforts and scientific research projects tied to Franklin's last voyage continued in the lateth and 20th centuries.
They collected relics and bones, located graves, and partnered with Inuit communities to conduct long-term searches for more clues to the expedition's fate. Yet two significant artifacts remained missing for more than years: the ships themselves. Many researchers believed that the Erebus and Terror could hold a trove of clues to the men's final activities, but the brutal climate and brief research season on King William Island stymied progress. In , with funding from the Canadian government and new sonar technology, archaeologists and Inuit historians, including Franklin scholar Louie Kamookak , finally found the HMS Erebus in Victoria Strait.
Without the journals from the expedition, we may never know some key facts about its fate. Historians still wonder what killed Franklin and so many of the officers and men before the Erebus and Terror were abandoned.
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Why did Crozier decide to march toward Back's Fish River, where possible help was hundreds of miles away, when he could have marched north to a depot of supplies and food left by an shipwreck, and where rescuers or passing whalers could have rescued them? Were the men's judgments really impaired by lead poisoning?
How long did they survive? Archaeologists and Inuit oral historians continue to search for answers. Books, tools, boots, buttons, spoons, combs, pocket watches, food tins, Crozier and Fitzjames's note, and even a piece of canned meat from Franklin's last expedition are stored in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.
Artifacts retrieved from the Erebus and Terror , including the ships' bells, and other relics are part of the critically acclaimed exhibit, Death in the Ice , currently on display in the Canadian Museum of History through September 30, Sagamore Hill, the former home of Theodore Roosevelt and a current property of the U. National Park System, contains many of the game trophies the president hunted and collected during his lifetime. Until recently, it was also home to a living reminder of Roosevelt's love for nature: A giant copper beech tree he planted at the estate in the s.
He spent summers there with his family during his presidency, which earned it the nickname the "summer White House. In , Roosevelt planted a copper beech tree near the entrance of the Queen Anne-style home. It was a small reflection of his dedication to environmentalism : As president, he would set aside million acres of land for national forests and wildlife refuges. Today Sagamore Hill is a National Historic Site, and Roosevelt's tree had recently started posing a threat to visitors.
Aged years and diseased, the tree was approaching the end of its life, so site officials made the decision to take it apart branch by branch and remove it from the property. The wood from the trunk will be saved and made into park benches that will be installed on the property. Some wood may be carved into replicas of the furniture at Sagamore Hill, which would then be auctioned off to raise funds for preservation projects. Roosevelt's love of nature was just one aspect of the multifaceted president. He was also famous for his witty quotes—as evidenced by these savage insults.
BY Kat Long.