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Dr. Nansen's Proposed Route In The Current Across The Ice.

The Relics Found In The Ice.

How the Mementoes of De Long, After Three Years' Drifting in a Berg, Were Lost.

Yesterday a Call representative interviewed Henry Lund, Consul of Sweden and Norway in this City, relative to the Jeannette relics which were found in the latter part of June, 1884, on a drifting icefloe near Julianahope on the west coast of Greenland. Mr. Lund, as a member of the Geographical Society of the Pacific, visited Copenhagan (sic) some time ago and consulted with the Danish Geographical Society regarding the relics. But they had disappeared.

It appears that the articles, which consisted of pieces of clothing and papers, were placed in the possession of one of the members of the society. He soon after died and all his effects passed into the hands of distant relatives who found the musty old things saved from the icefloe. So the precious relics of one of the most pathetic stories in the annals of the sea were sweft (sic) out for the ragman and wasted forever. Even the manner of their disappearance was no less pathetic than the death of the brave men in the snow of the Lena delta.

"The members of the Geographical Society at Copenhagen," said Mr. Lund, "were chagrined and distressed when they learned that the Jeannette articles were lost. They considered it a misfortune, almost a calamity, and made every effort to trace them. You see I was commissioned by our society to bring the relics home, but was obliged to return empty-handed. It's a pity to think that those articles, after surviving a long drift through the Arctic for three years, should be carelessly and needlessly lost."

As is well known Dr. Nansen, the Norwegian explorer who has just been reported as having reached the north pole, laid his proposed route along the line of these drifting relics. The Jeannette after passing through Bering Straits proceeded almost north till caught in the ice near Wrangell Island, and for almost two years she drifted northerly with the floe. On June 13, 1881, she was crushed in longitude 150 degrees 59 minute east from Greenwich and latitude 77 degrees, 16 minutes north. The floe with the relics evidently continued to drift northward crossing over the region of the pole, thence south, though still in almost a straight line, to the eastern coast of Greenland.

Dr. Nansen's proposed route, following the Jeannette's drift.

It followed the coast around the southern point of Greenland, and was discovered near Julianahope. Nansen intended to strike this current and drift with the ice across the pole to Greenland.

"I don't believe my exploring countryman found the pole," said Consul Lund, "because if he drifted with the ice to the pole there is no probability that he would find a counter current that would drift him back to the Siberian shore. If he did find such a current then the theory of the straight drift of the relics over the polar apex of the globe and down the Greenland coast is shaken. I think we will learn later, however, that the rumor is unfounded and that Dr. Nansen is still hunting for the current that will take him across the pole."

General Greely doubted the existence of the Jeannette relics and stated that he believed that they had never come from that vessel, and consequently he had no faith in the theory that Nansen was following out. Mr. Lund during his visit to Copenhagen verified beyond all contradiction that the articles came from the Jeannette people after they had abandoned the crushed steamer. From the substance of a lecture delivered by Carl Lytzen, director of Julianahope, before the Geographical Society of Copenhagen in 1885, he obtained a description of the relics and the story of their discovery.

Director Lytzen says that exactly three years to a day after the Jeannette's destruction three Greenlanders, fishing in the bay of Julianahope, noticed a raven constantly hovering over an icefloe, and upon investigating they found a number of articles frozen fast in the ice. A few days after, another find was reported in the vicinity. There were fifty-eight pieces of clothing and other articles, of which Mr. Lytzen succeeded in securing the following:

A ship's provision list, with the signature of Captain de Long attached.

A written description of the Jeannette's boats.

The visor of a cap upon which is written "T.C. Lindermann." This was the name of one of the men of the expedition. He was saved.

A pair of oilskin trousers, having "Louis Noros" written on them. He was one of the crew of the Jeannette.

A great number of pieces of paper, with notes written on them; part of a checkbook containing postage-stamps, buttons and pieces of wearing apparel and remnants of a tent. There can be no doubt that these are relics of the Jeannette, lost June 13, 1881, north of the Siberian coast.

Director Lytzen continued in his lecture before Danish scientists, of which the following is a translation:

It has long been known that the currents of the Arctic go from the northern shore of Siberia over against the east coast of Greenland, along this and from Cape Farewell up in the opposite direction along the southern end of the west coast of Greenland. I shall here only put you in mind of the floating timber picked up on the Greenland shore. The Siberian origin of this driftwood is well known. It grows in the great forests along the Lena and other rivers bordering on the Arctic. The currents bring it around Spitzbergen to our coast.

We now know how long it will take for an object to drift with the current from near the mouth of the River Lena, in Siberia, to Greenland. It took three years for the Jeannette's icefloe to make the journey, which is 1650 Danish miles.

The distance traveled has in reality been much longer, for we know from the ships that have made long drifts fast in the Arctic ice that the currents take the floes in many curves. But it has been proved that a berg can travel over that route and will consume about three years in the trip. It is also known that the bergs coming from the Siberian coast over the middle of the Arctic and around the eastern shore of Greenland into Baffins Bay will not crumble until they reach the southern end of Greenland.

Now it will be seen that whoever tries to reach the pole from the Siberian Sea will most likely be locked up in the ice and carried across the Arctic and around Greenland, taking several years on the passage, providing the vessel is strong enough to stand the squeeze of the floes.

"This is the reason I discredit Dr. Nansen's alleged discovery," said Mr. Lund. "If he passed over the pole in his drift he would probably turn up on the east Greenland coast like the other drifting things cast into the great Siberian current. If he has not succeeded in proving the Jeannette drift theory he may return home by way of Bering Sea and the Japanese coast."

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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Original Source:
  San Francisco Call, San Francisco, Feb. 15, 1896.  
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  Jennifer F. Holvoet, Ph.D.  
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