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The Mystery of Andree


The absence of news from the Andree balloon expedition to the North Pole has led many people to the conclusion that a fatal termination of the risky venture is now the only explanation. That such is not the view of French experts is shown by contributions to the French journals. From a translation in the Literary Digest of an article contributed to La Nature by the editor M. Henri de Parville we quote:

"Only a few hypotheses can be made regarding the Andree balloon expedition. It set off with a favorable wind--a wind from the southwest and of sufficient strength. This must have continued for some time. If, by chance, the wind fell in the night, the aeronauts would have seen that it was about to do so, before being dropped into the sea, and would have landed on the ice. If, on the contrary, the south wind continued, if there was no storm, they ought to have passed the neighborhood of the pole very soon, at the least in two or three days. Then the balloon would have kept on its journey till it was thought proper to stop it. Thus the going would be all right; it is the getting back that would make the trouble. Has the balloon profited by a favorable current, or have the members of the expedition made up their minds to explore the region that they have seen from the balloon? Have they been forced to alight on the icy coast of Siberia? They carried everything necessary for passing a long winter on the ice. If this be the case, we must admit that many months might pass before M. Andree could be able to send us news of himself and his companions. Perhaps we might have to wait as long as a year for tidings. Winter comes quickly in the Arctic regions. Nansen went into winter quarters on August 28, 1895, and it was not until the end of May that he was able to think of leaving these icy regions&. Public curiosity should then wait till the year 1898 before being sure of the fate of the Andree balloon."

Another writer M.W. de Fonvielle concludes an article to Cosmos as follows: "We understand very well that the public awaits impatiently the denouement of a drama whose first act was so sensational. We do not blame those who already wish to read the narrative of the grand scenes that must have followed close upon it. But our experience in these matters makes it our duty to declare that the admirers of M. Andree should be resigned to wait for the end of an attempt that will probably be long. It would be a veritable miracle if we should know before the expiration of several months what has become of the Swedish explorers."

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:

Buffalo Courier, Buffalo, NY. Sept. 19, 1897


Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

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