AS our readers are aware, the news has been published in the daily press to the effect that a report from Irkutsk in Siberia has been received, stating that Nansen had discovered the North Pole, and was now on his way home. The report has not been definitely confirmed. We present our readers a map of the North Polar region, believing that it will be of interest to recall some of the particulars of his expedition.

 

We have in several of our Supplements described the pathetic starting of the expedition from Christiania, the little ship passing close by the explorer's home, where his wife, dressed in white, and the companion of many of his trips, standing on the shore, saw the last of her husband. The theory on which the expedition was based was that ocean currents exist whose direction is from the islands of New Siberia across the North Polar region to Greenland. The Jeannette sank off these islands and it was claimed that relics of the Jeannette were picked up on the shores of Greenland.

Other drift relics were cited as additional proofs of these currents. In the face of this theory there were most emphatic denials, not only of the existence of such currents, but even of the authenticity of the finding of the relics.

Basing his expedition on this theory, Dr. Nansen had a special ship built for his trip, the Fram. She was a three masted schooner in rig, with engine and screw, rather of the auxiliary type. With a consumption of 2% tons of coal a day the Fram would develop a speed of 6 miles an hour, the idea being to use sail whenever possible and economize coal for use in emergencies. She was built with a very round bottom and her keel came even with the outer planking, so that nothing was presented for the ice to take hold of. The hopes were that if caught between opposing floes she would be lifted up bodily, the ice sliding in under her sloping sides and bottom. She was very strongly built, being planked with double layers of oak 3 inches and 4 inches thick, sheathed again with ice planking varying from 34 inches to 64 thick. The ceiling was in alternate strakes 4 inches and 84 inches thick. The enormous mass of timber for so small a vessel, in conjunction with her shape, seemed enough to make her stand anything. The screw and rudder were arranged so that thev could be raised into a well for protection if desired. The ship was 101 feet 6 inches long, displacing 800 tons at 15 feet 6 inches draught with 3 feet 3 inches freeboard. Her carrying capacity was put at 380 tons and she carried five years supply of provisions. Her crew consisted of eleven men in addition to Dr.. Nansen, and they departed prepared for an absence of three to five years.

 

The ship was to coast along the northern shores of Europe until she reached the vicinity of the New Siberian Islands; here she was to strike north, depending largely on ocean currents to carry her along. The course would carry her past the North Cape and then approximately along the 70th and 80th circles of latitude until at or about the 150th parallel of longitude east from Greenwich, and just north of Bennett Island, the course would be changed to the north. Hence the explorer hoped to pass by the pole, to work down along the east coast of Greenland and thence to the east back to Christian-sand.

In many ways it is the most interesting of the attempts yet made to reach the pole. The specially built ship, the personnel of those who manned her and the unselfishness of her commander gave an element of the romantic, to the whole. The explorer is said to have had the smallest and least comfortable cabin in the ship. Nansen's previous work in the Arctic indicated his ability to use all the possible resources of the region for his work. He utilized skees or Norwegian snow- shoes in traversing the Greenland ice caps, and in his book on his Greenland expedition will be found a singularly interesting account of these aids to snow travel. It is to be hoped that his resourceful mind will prove equal to the task he has assigned himself. He departed on June 24, 1893, and the present day seems too soon for him to be heard from.

As an interesting appendix, we print a table of the most northerly points attained by Arctic voyagers. The figures will be impressive in showing how slow

EASTERN HEMISPHERE

Commander. * Date. - North Latitude. I Longitude. Locality.

William Barents............................. July 14,1594 77 20' j 62 E. Near C. Nassau, Nova Zembla.; Ryp and Heemskerck (Barents1 third voyage).. June 19,15% I 79 49' 12 E. North Spitzbergen.

Henry Hudson............................. I July 13, 1607 80 23' 10

E. Spitzbergen Sea. J. C. Phipps................................. July 27, 1773 80 48' j 20

E. Spitzbergen Sea. William Scoresby...........................j May 24, 1806 i 81 30' ' 19

E. Spitzbergen Sea. W. E. Parry.............................. July 23, 1827 82 45' I 20

E. Spitzbergen Sea. Nordenskiold and Otter.................... September 19, 1868 81 42' j 18 E. Spitzbergen Sea (highest by ship). [ Weyprecht and Payer........................ April 12, 1874 82 05' i 60 E.

Franz Josef Land (by Payer, highest J I I ________ 1__________________Iland).____________________________

WESTERN HEMISPHERE.

John Davis.............................I June 30, 1587 I 72 12' I 56 W. [West Greenland.

Henry Hudson............................ June 20, 1607 73 I 20 W. Off East Greenland.

William Baffin............................... July 4,1616 I 77 45' 72 W. Smith Sound.

E. A. Inelefleld........................... August 27, 1852 78 21' 74 W.

Smith Sound. E. K. Kane.............................. June 24, 1854; 80 10' 67 W. Cape Constitution, Greenland

Morton. C.F.Hall.................................. August 30, 1870 82 11' j 61 W.

Frozen Sea. C. F. Hall.................................... June 30,1871 ] 82 07' ' 59 W. Greenland

Sergeant Meyer. G. S. Nares................................. September 25, 1875 82 48'  65 W.

Grinnell Land, by Aldrich. G. 8. “flares................................. May 12, 1876 83 20', 65c W. Frozen Sea

A. H. Markham. A. W. Greely........................,..... May 13, 1882 I 83 24/ 41 W. New land, north of Greenland

Lock- I I I I wood and Brainard. the advance to the north is, and how little has been I gained since the days of Henry Hudson.

The table is taken from General A. W. Greely's work, “Handbook of Arctic Discoveries.”