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The Mystery of Andree


A message published in yesterday's papers announced the capture near Soevde, in the northern part of Norway, of a carrier pigeon having a silver band on one leg with the words, "North Pole, 142W., 47.62," stamped thereon. Another despatch (sic) published this morning states that a second bird has been caught near Tromsoe Island with the following legend stamped on its winds: "North Pole passed, Fifteenth." It may or may not prove true that carrier pigeons with the words and figures described were found, but it is not probable that they were set free by Professor Andree, the aeronaut explorer. It has been stated authoritatively that all of Andree's birds had his name stamped on their wings, and neither of those caught is so reported. Moreover it is not likely that he would send such imperfect messages as are reported, nor leave unsigned any which he might write.

There has been plenty of time for Andree to have reached and passed the North Pole and it is easily within the bounds of possibility for a bird to bring a message since from that point to Soevde or Tromsoe Island, because there are an abundance of points where it could stop and rest, if necessary. The greatest peril, and practically the only peril to be encountered, is from ger-falcons, which are found in vast numbers in the Arctics (sic) during the summer months. The strongest reasons for disbelief in the likelihood of unsigned messages and birds having come from Andree rest on the incomplete and otherwise unsatisfactory character of the former, the undescribed signs which those belonging to Andree possessed, and in the fact that spurious messages alleged to be sent by Arctic explorers are unfortunately common. These alleged birds reported may have an existence and may have come from Andree, of course, but it may be taken for granted that if Professor Andree has reached and discovered the North Pole, and sends out a bird or a number of them the messages attached announcing the fact to the world will be found to be perfectly intelligible and clearly signed.

If by any chance the despatches (sic) be true in every particular, and the birds and messages are from Andree, then the North Pole has been reached and passed and the finder and his companions, should they live to reach civilization again, will have achieved world-wide and undying fame.

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:

Philadelphia Pennsylvania Ledger, Philadelphia, PA. July 23, 1897


Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

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