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The Intrepid Explorer Is Believed to Be Returning to Civilization.

What Andree's Friends and Advisors Think of the Where-abouts of the Party


(Special Correspondence to The Dispatch.)

Stockholm, Sept. 18. -- The latest belief here is that Herr Andree is returning to civilization, and is at the present moment crossing the ice fields, Here are the newest views. Also extracts from a letter to a friend which will be received with great interest:

That Andree will ultimately return to civilization I find to be generally believed here, and from no one have come more positive statements than those made to me by Baron Nordenskjold. The intimate friend of Andree, thoroughly familiar with his hopes and his plans, and, above all, a clear headed practical person, Baron Nordenskjold says nothing which is not worth considering. When I asked him if he really expected to see Andree again he said: "Why, certainly I do. The constant assertion that he is dead amuses rather than saddens me. I know the man, his plans, his theories, his hopes, his indomitable courage, all of which to one who thoroughly understands the expedition and all of which it consists, renders his success not only possible, but exceedingly probable.

"It is my belief that Andree is at the present moment upon ice which has hitherto been untrodden by the foot of man. You must remember that the balloon under ordinary circumstances would remain in the air twenty-four days. Inasmuch as the distance from the point of embarkation near Tromso was not more than 700 miles from the supposed location of the pole as the crow flies, it seems to me the minimum degree of reason to believe that Andree has not only reached the pole, but concluded his observations there and begun his journey to Siberia, from which land I believe we shall hear from him by the time that spring rolls around."

The thoroughness of Andree's preparations are not, it seems to me, generally understood. The man was a theorist as every progressive man is to a greater or lesser degree. But he was practical; that none can deny. Of this latter fact I have (Illegible)__en no better evidence than the following from an unpublished letter to a friend of his, written two days before he began his journey to the unknown:

"We have taken into consideration many difficult situations in which we might be placed from the standpoint of provisions. No one knows where the balloon will land us. It may be that we descend upon the covering of the earth where human voice was never heard, nor the footprint of a human being ever seen. Should this be the case we shall cache our provisions and thus forming a depot of supplies, make short excursions in various directions, for the purpose of rendering us capable of taking still longer journeys. We believe, my companions and I, that way we can so harden ourselves as to undergo extreme taxation of our strength without dangerous results.

" I do not fancy, however, that we shall land so very far from at least an outpost of humanity. Every one knows that there are from 400 to 500 persons wintering at the mouth of the Mackenzie every year. The gold hunter has for years been in the center of Alaska, which has never yet been reached by the adventuresome explorer. We have done our best to send the information of our proposed journey to the places farthest north in touch with civilization. Last year when we fully expected to start, we sent out circulars in similar fashion, but this year they have been circulated all through the frontier of British Columbia and the dominion of Canada, as well as Northern Siberia.

"The Russian Government and the Russian Geographical Society took the matter of the circular up themselves and saw to it that the documents were not only distributed but that they were written in so simple language that even the most ignorant might comprehend what the balloon really was, and where its occupants had journeyed from. I want to call your attention and through you the attention of others to the floating buoy which we intend to drop upon the ice at intervals. These, drifting with the ice in the ocean currents, may take to those farther south information of the experiences and hopes of the three of us who propose to stake our lives upon the success of this aerial trial with chance."

Dr. Nils Ekholm, who accompanied Herr Andree to Spitzbergen last year with the intention of taking part in his aerial voyage, talked with me on the prospects of the expedition based on the facts of Andree's ascent. Dr. Ekholm declined to go this year because he considered that the impermeability of the balloon was unsatisfactory. He pointed out that from the day the balloon was fully inflated it lost 51 cubic meters of gas every twenty-four hours, representing a diminution in carrying capacity of 56 kilograms per day. This showed that the imperviousness of the balloon had not been essentially increased since last year.

Besides this daily escape various circumstances led to a certain loss of gas in the ascent itself, necessitating a corresponding sacrifice of ballast. After making allowances for these losses of gas and taking into consideration the fact that in the ascent part of the drag ropes were last and that the balloon at once rose to a height of 15,000 to 25,000 feet, Dr. Ehkolm formed the following conclusions: The longest time for which the balloon would remain in the air would be from 22 to 24 days, and even less than that if mountains exceeded the height of those attained at the start had to be crossed. Dr. Ehkolm (sic) declares himself skeptical with regard to the supposed loss of the balloon in the White Sea, but he proposes, nevertheless, that a search expedition should be sent to the White Sea from Vardoe.

The peculiarity about all these pigeons seems to be that they bear on various parts of their persons numbers of words of highly cryptogramic (sic) character. To the foreigner the impression is conveyed at certain times that the woods are full of pigeons. As a matter of fact they are picked up everywhere from Tromso in Norway to Bedford and the Isle of Thanet. One thing may be depended upon, however, and that is that not a single pigeon that Andree took with him in the balloon has yet been heard from. The stories to the contrary are unblushing falsehoods.

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:

Louisville Dispatch, Louisville, KY. Sept. 19, 1897

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Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

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