Maurer, Frederick W., 1893-1923



Fred Maurer was third-in-command on the 1921 Wrangel Island Expedition. From New Philadelphia, Ohio, he was 28 at the start of the expedition. Before the Wrangel Island expedition, he worked as a deckhand on the Belvedere, a whaling ship; in 1906, he met Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who came aboard as the captain’s honored guest at Herschel Island (off the northern coast of Canada). Later, Maurer was hired as a fireman for Stefansson’s disastrous 1913-14 Canadian Arctic Expedition. The ship Karluk became trapped in an ice floe and later sank, stranding (and eventually killing) many; Maurer spent six months on Wrangel Island before being rescued. Later, Stefansson suggested he join the 1921 spring Chautauqua circuit, and Maurer became the opening act for Stefansson. That year, Stefansson asked Maurer to be a member of his second Wrangel Island expedition; Maurer immediately said yes. The team arrived on Wrangel Island on September 15, 1921, and over the following years suffered immensely, facing harsh Arctic conditions as resources ran dangerously low. On January 28, 1923, Maurer, along with Milton and Crawford, tried to cross the frozen Chukchi Sea to Siberia and travel some 90 miles to get help; they were never seen again.

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