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The Mystery of Andree


The fact that the vessel sent out by the Swedish Government to search for traces of the Andree party in the vicinity of Spitzbergen has returned without any intelligence of the explorer can in no way be regarded as of evil portent. Nothing but an accident of the most serious nature occurring immediately after his departure from Dane's Island could account for Andree being at Spitzbergen. Probably the report made by a Norse whaling skipper, that he had seen something floating in the neighborhood of Prince Charles Island which he surmised to be the remains of Andree's balloon, suggested the despatch (sic) of the search party which has just returned. As was pointed out in these columns at the time, the report in question was a very improbable one, seeing that Prince Charles Island lies nearly eighty miles due south of Dane's Island, while when last seen Andree's balloon was sailing north-east by east at an estimated velocity of twelve miles an hour. Unless the wind veered northwards, Andree could not reach the pole on this course, but would be carried over or near Franz Josef Land, situated about twenty degrees eastward of Spitzbergen, that is, in about fifty degrees east longitude. Here there has been deposited an abundant store of all things necessary for the voyagers to winter with a certain amount of comfort. Franz Josef Land in its general features resembles Spitzbergen. It is really composed of two or three large islands and a great number of small ones. Its mountains attain an elevation of two thousand to three thousand feet, the depressions between them being partially filled with glaciers, and all the islands are covered with an icy cap. Failing to reach Franz Josef Land, Andree might even be carried to the Liakhov Islands, off the coast of Siberia, in about a hundred and fifty degrees east longitude. Here there are three provision stations prepared. These islands, although as inhospitable as any in the polar regions, are nevertheless within the pale of civilization. Ever since their discovery in 1770, by a Russian merchant, whose name they now bear, and who obtained from the Empress Catherine the sole right to dig there for fossil ivory, they have been resorted to for the purpose of obtaining this commodity, which is occasionally found in very large quantity. It seldom happens, therefore, that it remains unvisited for more than a few months at a time. It would certainly be as fortunate an issue to Dr. Andree's risky enterprise as could be hoped for were he to reach either Franz Josef Land or the Liakhov Islands in safety.

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:

Montreal, P.Q.- Witness, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Nov. 23, 1897


Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

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