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EXPEDITION TO SOUTHERN POLE.
Left London Last Week On A Voyage Of Exploration -- Its Gigantic Undertaking.
The Polar expedition which has been fitting out here for the past six weeks in anticipation of sailing early next month in hope of discovering the South Pole, has been completed earlier than was expected and during the present week will sail on its long journey. The Southern Cross, the trim little craft which will take the exploring party off, has completed the storing of supplies and is already (sic) to cast off the last line. C.E. Borchgrevink, who will conduct the expedition, awaits only the completion of some personal business before giving the order to start.
The expedition will be the best equipped ever headed to the Antarctic. Half a million dollars have already been expended upon it and as much more awaits its projectors from the same source. The reason for this remarkable financial condition is that the expedition anticipates more than mere scientific riscoveries, (sic) but hopes to open new and vast fields for British commerce. In the hold of the Southern Cross there are stored away 500 Union Jacks, intended for no other purpose than for planting on just so many island or headlands of a new region. At the big maintopmast of the craft is the big ensign presented to the expedition by the Duke of York to be placed right on the South Pole, or as near as possible.
The reason for the early sailing of the little craft is said to be a race to head off the Belgian expedition of last year. the prize at stake is the new continent, which there is good reason to believe exists there, and place it under British dominion.The Belgian expedition which the present English enterprise hopes to outstrip went out in the summer a year ago, in the Belgica, under the leadership of Lieutenant Adrien ed (sic) Gerlache, for the avowed purpose of exploring the unknown lands of the Antarctic seas. Nothing has been heard of it since.
C.E. Borchgrevink, who is at the head of this last expedition is a dashing young Norwegian 34 years of age. He is (sic) already been on the Antarctic continent, in 1894 and 1895, when, as an adventurous whaler, he made a landing on Victoria Land. He claims that he is the first white man to have set foot on that soil.
From Mr. Borchgrevink's description of the great antarctic continent, it is a place much more inviting to the explorer than anything to be found in the Arctic, though it is separated by an enormous distance of sea from any other land. On top of the cliffs that rise 2,000 feet straight up from the sea he saw an active volcano pouring a perfect Niagara of molten lava down into the ocean. Curious fish, not seals, that come up out of the water and go to sleep on the rocks, are found there. Strange birds walk about on the shore, and instead of being afraid of men attack them. There are plants that grow on snow and ice, feeding apparently on the air and producing flowers of gorgeous hues, being a kind of glacial orchid hitherto unknown. These are only a few of the strange things of the Antarctic world, according to Mr. Borchgrevink.
The Southern Cross, which is to convey the present expedition to explor (sic) this wonderland, with her yachtlike hull, trim deck houses and natty rigging, looks fit for any adventurous undertaking. Her previous history has been as a whaler. But for months past she has been in the hands of Colin Archer, at Laurvik, Norway, who built Nansen's famous Arctic ship, the Fram. He has made the Southern Cross as much like the Fram as possible. Her bow has been rebuilt and made of solid oak, eleven through. Her sides are also of tough oak three feet thick at the weakest part, over all is is (sic) ice hide of American greenheart.
Every other appliance that made Nansen' (sic) vessel such a splendid polar craft has been added to the Southern Cross. She has a steaming capacity of twelve or thirteen knots, but is expected to save her coal when she gets into Antarctic waters and depend largely on her sails. She is 146 feet long, with a thirty-foot beam, and is seventeen feet in depth.
As the Southern Cross lay at St Catherine's docks in London she was as much of a curiosity as Peary's ship Hope, with the metorite (sic) and Eskimos, on the return from the Arctic a year ago.
The Southern Cross' decks were alive and howling with a hundred Siberian and Eskimo dogs. Around the deck-house were piles of kayaks, or Eskimo canoes. Below decks in every foot of space, was stored the oddest kinds of clothing and provisions.
There were big reindeer boots and skins to skate on, might seal gloves and fur garments of every description. Besides the staple food stuffs were up to date tabloids (sic), a dozen of which are said to equal a meal if beafsteke (sic). There was solid tea and coffe in cakes, which only needed to be desolved (sic) for instant use.
C.E. Borchgrevink is well-known for his Antarctic experience. He is confident of the success of the expedition and said of it:
"I shall proceed direct to Hobart Town, Australia, then to Cape Adair. I propose to land at Cape adair (sic), in 70 degrees south latitude, with an adequate outfit of instruments, provisions, dogs and sleds and to establish my winter quarters at that spot. Semi-glovular (sic) huts, constructed on the Eskimo prinicple, and built out of hard wood, will be taken with us for the purpose of sheltering my staff, and also some live stock which I intend to take with me.
"As soon as the provisions and implements of the main camp have been landed the vessel will proceed southward with its crew, myself, and three of my staff, if possible, as far as 70 degres (sic) south, where my companions and myself wil (sic) be landed (all must necessarily be snow shoe runners), with our instruments, dogs, sledges, provisions, and other necessaries for the inland journey toward the South Magnetic Pole.
"If I succeed in landing on Victoria Land at that latitude I shall have to cross about ten degrees of longitude in a westerly direction to reach the place where the south magnetic pole, according to dip compass observation, ought to be situated, in latitude 75 degres (sic) 5 minutes south, longitude 150 degrees east, or about 150 English miles, the longitudes at 76 degrees south being about fifteen miles apart.
"I hope to have covered the distance inland and back in two months, in which time I shall have made the necessary magnetic observations, and again join the camp at Cape Adair before the Antarctic winter sets in.
"My scientific staff at Cape Adair will meantime have been occupied in exploring the bay at Victoria Land, in taking deep water sounding, investigating the fjords, and in collecting specimines (sic) of the fauna and flora, besides making pendulum observations, taking metorological (sic) data, etc.
"The khaler (sic) will return to Australia or Tasmania, both because it would be safer for the vessel and because it could do some valuable work among the islands between Australia and Victoria Land during the latter part of the Antipodean winter.
In the Antarctic spring, about September, 1899, the Southern Cross will return with a fresh lot of mountain climbers. These will join the first party landed, and the combined forces will make a bold dash for the geographical pole. If we find the interior a compartively level plateau, as is pected (sic), we shall stand a good chance of reaching the pole. We expect to return to England in 1900."
Reproduced with permission: L.L. Dyche, Explorations (Newspaper Clippings Related to Polar Exploration), Vol. 1 & 2. University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, KS.
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