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The Mystery of Andree


Herr Andree is indomitable. The winds of heaven last year baffled his unique and venturesome attempt to reach the Arctic Pole. But this year he will try again. He has already set out to do so. He has gone to Spitzbergen and re-established his headquarters. There he is preparing his huge balloon and its varied equipment. At some favoring time, probably early next month, he and his comrades will begin their daring voyage. We shall probably get word of their setting out, but after that will come a blank, and no man will know when or whither to look for the next tidings of them. They may be beaten back to Spitzbergen. They may be carried across to Greenland or to Alaska. They may be dropped in the heart of the Great Unknown, to perish. When one reads the story of Nansen's and Johansen's journey after leaving the Fram one realizes how arduous such an undertaking is and how heavy would be the odds against survival of a party less well equipped than they; as these, if forced to forsake the balloon and take to the ice, would surely be.

The practical results of the venture, supposing it to be successful, will almost certainly be slight compared with those of such voyages as Nansen's and Peary's. Simply to reach, or to pass over, the precise Pole would be, of course, an achievement entitling its doer to everlasting fame. But it would add little to man's knowledge. It would enable him to say there is land or sea or icepack at the Pole. That is all. The geological, hydrographical and other observations that constitute the chief value of other explorations would be lacking. The voyagers would win great fame, but it would be a voice and nothing more. There is a possibility -- since all things are possible--that they will be able to effect a descent at or near the Pole, spend some time in observation and research, and then reascend and complete their voyage. But that would be perilous beyond all characterization, and is scarcely within the domain of reasonable hope. If the wind proves fair an the airship holds her course before it, all prudence will demand that the voyagers keep right on, content with the passing glance and a "snapshot" at the Pole, and seek the nearest hospitable land to which their craft will bear them.

The balloon, as hitherto described, is so constructed that it will retain its buoyancy for at least four weeks. It has a lifting power of 9,000 pounds, and will carry three men, provisions for four months, scientific instruments and a boat. Drag ropes will be used to regulate its height and speed and to guide, to some extent, its course. A height of 9,840 feet will be aimed at, where, it is thought, there is generally clear air below the clouds and above the fogs. If a speed of sixteen miles an hour can be maintained, as is with reason expected, the Pole will be reached from Spitzbergen within two days. The wind in those regions, Herr Andree says, blows at this time of year at the rate of about twenty-one miles an hour. The average temperature of the air in July at Spitzbergen is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and at the Pole itself is probably little if any lower, so that the voyagers will not suffer from the cold. On the whole, the enterprise is a fascinating and by no means hopeless one. Many may look upon it as foolhardy. But all must regard it with sympathetic interest and wish for it safety and success.

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:

New York Tribune, New York, NY. June 2, 1897


Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

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