1902 Encyclopedia > Geography > Arctic Exploration (cont.). Spitzbergen Explored. Austrian Expedition.

(Part 50)

Arctic Exploration (cont.). Spitzbergen Explored. Austrian Expedition.

After the return of McClintock, England neglected the great work of Arctic exploration for fifteen years; but a deep interest was taken in the discovery of the unknown polar regions by other nations, and numerous efforts to explore them were made in the interval.

In 1853-55 Dr Kane, with the American brig "Advance," wintered just within the entrance of Smith Sound, and sent an exploring party for some distance up the east side of the channel; and in 1860-61 Dr Hayes wintered near the same spot, and made a sledge journey up the west side.

Ten years afterwards Captain Hall, accompanied by Dr Bessels, a German scientific explorer, sailed in the "Polaris" in August 1871, and succeeded in making his way up the channels leading north from Smith Sound for 250 miles, wintering in 81º 38´ N. Captain Hall unfortunately died in the autumn of 1871, and his comrades returned after suffering great hardships. The "Polaris" was abandoned, but she had attained the highest latitude ever reached by any vessel up to that date.

In the direction of Spitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya the Norwegian walrus hunters made many during voyages. They circumnavigated both those masses of Arctic land, and yearly frequented the hitherto closed Sea of Kara. The Swedes, under the lead of the accomplished and indefatigable Nordenskiöld, have made voyage after voyage to Spitzbergen, and afterwards to the north-east.

The first Swedish expedition to Spitzbergen was in 1857, the second in 1861, the third in 1864, the fourth in 1868, consisting of the steamer "Sophia," which reached the highest latitude ever attained by a vessel trying the Spitzbergen route, namely, 81º 42´ N.

In 1872 a fifth expedition started, and Nordenskiöld the passed his first winter in the Arctic regions, and gained experience of sledge-travelling in the spring, exoloring a large area of North-East Land.

Experience also proved that the Spitzbergen route was not one by which large results could be secured, although the scientific researchers of the Swedes in Spitzbergen itself were most valuable.

In 1875 therefore Professor Nordenskiöld made his first attempt towards the north-east, reaching the mouth of the Yenisei; and in 1876 he made an equally successful voyage in the same direction.

The Germans also entered the field of Arctic enterprise. In 1868 Captain Koldewey made a summer voyage to Spitzbergen, and in 1869-70 he went in the "Germania" to the east coast of Greenland, accompanied by Lieutenant Payer, wintered at the Pendulum Island, discovered by Clavering in 1823, whence they made a sledge journey to the northward as far as 77º, and explored a deep fjord in about 73º 15´ N. during the navigable season.

English yachtsmen, notably Lamont and Leigh Smith, were also in the field; and the latter made important corrections of the charts of North-East Land.

But by far the most important and successful voyage in this period was that of Lieutenants Weyprecht and Payer in the Austrian steamer "Tegethoff." Sailing in 1872, they were beset in the ice to the north of Novaya Zemlya during the winter of 1872-73, and were drifted northwards until, on August 31, 1873, they sighted a previously unknown country. It proved to be very extensive, and was named Franz Josef Land.

In March 1874 Lieutenant Payer started on an extended sledge journey, in the equipment of which he closely followed McClintock’s system. He discovered a great extent of coast-line, and attained a latitude of 82º 5´ N. at Cape Fligely. The Austrian explorers were eventually obliged to abandon the "Tegethoff," reaching Norway in September 1874; but their expedition was a great success, and they added an extensive region to the map of the known world.

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