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The Mystery of Andree


The report of the finding of Andree, his two companions and their balloon in Siberia appears to take on a tint of truth as one reads that it was started by a well-known elk hunter, not by one of the Siberian tribes.Ü A copy of the Siberian Advertiser has reached Berlin in which the earlier report is given with details of the discovery.Ü But both the earlier and the later notices specifically describe the locality of the discovery as at the same point ç north of the city of Krasnoyarsk and about sixty-five miles from Pit river.Ü Probably but one version of the story has really been given in Siberia.Ü It is possible, however, that the bodies were successively found by both the tribesmen and the elk hunter.Ü But the latterÌs report may have been forwarded by the natives, who, if they knew the contents of the letter, would have informed those who next passed it along that they had been the discoverers.

If AndreeÌs balloon reached the locality mentioned, it traveled nearly 2000 miles before it collapsed.Ü That it should cover such a distance may be thought unlikely.Ü And yet the venturesome explorer set off with the intention of safely bridging an expanse of fully 1400 miles.Ü If he was right in his opinion of the durability of his airship, there seems to be no reason why it should not have made twice that distance, provided the chance was afforded by the wind of moving with anything resembling good speed and on a fairly clear course.Ü The chief objection to the story from Siberia seems to be, not that the tribesmen and hunters of that region have been apt at telling great stories ever since the Jeannette expedition, but that the country where the bodies are alleged to have been found is more or less cultivated.Ü The explorerÌs brother believes that the balloon would have been found long before January, when the first report of it came from this source, if it had fallen to the earth in that neighborhood.Ü Time will show whether this view meets the case, however.Ü In the meantime it is of course interesting to examine, so far as possible, the apparent trustworthiness of the story.

This subject ought not to be dismissed without some reference to Lieut. PearyÌs expedition, which, as the summer approaches, is bound to receive anxious attention.Ü With it may be included a reminder that Capt. Sverdrup and the Fram are also in the same locality, both the American and the Norwegian aiming for the same point, which is, after preliminary stations on the route, the North Pole.Ü Neither expedition is in search of Andree.Ü Yet it is safe to assume that both will look for signs of the balloon, Capt. SverdrupÌs especially.Ü The anxiety that may be felt in regard to Lieut. Peary is occasioned by the great probability that this steamship, the famous Windward, was caught in the ice last fall before getting within several hundred miles of Sherard Osborne Fjord the point of departure for the land march.Ü If it was, the vessel could hardly survive the crushing.Ü The Fram is safe against such a disaster.Ü Lieut. Peary was expected to reach the Fjord in time to send the Windward back.Ü But the ship has not been heard from since her convoy left her, and the latter steamer had great difficulty in escaping from the ice in Davis Strait.

Reproduced with permission: L.L. Lewis, Explorations (Newspaper Clippings Related to Polar Exploration), Vol. 1 & 2. University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, KS.



Original Source:

Providence Journal, Providence, RI. Feb. 27, 1899

Patrick Harper
University of Kansas

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