bound for days. Then we sit cosy in our snow-houses that are brightly lit and adequately heated by seal-oil lamps which we trim so carefully that they produce neither smoke nor odor. On such occasions we speculate for hours upon things for which we can not spare minutes where telephones ring and movies lurk around every corner. The winters of 1914 to 1918 we used to talk a great deal about the coming era of northern development and the part which our respective countries would play therein. My companions were Canadian, Australian, American, Norwegian, South Sea Islanders,--men from more than a dozen countries. We talked much of the importance of Spitzsbergen to which Britain then had (it seemed to us) a stronger claim than any other nation. From the British point of view it has seemed to me a blunder exceeded by only two or three of the colossal calamities of the Paris conference, that they gave away Spitzsbergen to Norway, not one-half aware of its mineral riches, not one-fourth informed as to its real climate, and apparently not at all conscious of its great potential importance as a flying center. It is not quite as strategically placed in the Arctic as the Hawaiian Islands are in the Pacific, but I fancy it will not be more than two or three decades until air-lines radiate from Spitzs- bergen somewhat as steamship routes they do now from Honolulu. From the point of view of Spitsbergen itself it may be a blessing to be under one of the an most advanced countriesy and and that is not too large to pay attention to it. For Norway itself the arrangement gives a wonderful pioneering opportunity.

We talked of various other Arctic Islands from this point of view and among them of Wrangell, the history, climate and resources of which we knew, and the importance of which seemed clear to us.

The history of Wrangell Island begins in the scientific theorizing of the early nineteenth century. At that time it was supposed that most of the Arctic was occupied by a great continent of which Greenland was one corner. Another corner was thought to lie undiscovered just North of the north-eastern coast of Siberia.

This was the time when the Russian Empire was expanding into Asia to form the country now politically described as Siberia, and the Czar's

Last edit 9 months ago by Samara Cary



Government was more fully awake than the rest of Europe to the potential greatness of their Asiatic Empire. It was only natural therefore that they should take interest in the theory of an Arctic continent. Their traders listened carefully among the natives for legends about lands beyond the northern frontier of Siberia; and what they listened for they heard.

We now know that most of the natives of the north-eastern Siberia and northern Alaska have the legend of a great land to the north from each of these countries. The late Sire Clements Markham, then President of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, was much concerned about these stories as recently as the beginning of my own Arctic work (1906). The first Polar expedition of which I was a member (commanded by Leffingwell and Mikkelsen) was organized partly to test the view which Sir Clements favored that the stories of land to the north of Alaska were reliable. The results of the Leffingwell-Mikkelsen expedition were negative. My own expedition of 1913-1918 proved that showed the "land seen north of Alaskato be was imaginary.

The prehistoric Arctic trading center of Nijnei Kolymsk took on new life with the increased Russian traffic of the early nineteenth century and the natives of northeastern Siberia frequented it even more than formerly. Some of these brought the story of an inhabited land to the north of Cape Shelagskoi. Personally, I consider that this was only the same sort of legend which we later disproved to the north of Alaska; but since it happens that there is land, although uninhabited, northeast, if not north, from Cape Shelagskoi, it is possible to dispute indefinitely as to whether the stories which the Russians picked up were partly fact or simply wholly folk-lore.

However that be, the stories were taken for fact in Petrograd and a young Lieutenant named Ferdinand Wrangell was employed by the Russian

Last edit 10 months ago by August White Guszkowski



Government to travel overland to the mouth of the Kolyma and to make expeditions out upon the sea ice beyond to plnt the Russian flag upon the supposed corner of the supposed continent.

Wrangell arrived at the mouth of the Kolyma in 1820. During the three years following he made journeys northwest, north and northeast over the winter sea ice searching for land. Eis route map shows that one of his parties once came within 40 or 50 miles of where we now have Wrangell Island on the chart, hut they saw no land. They picked up once more, however, the native story that land had been seen. Wrangell laid this down upon his chart "from Native report" in a position some 40 or 50 miles west of where an island was later discovered.

On turning hack from his third and last journey, Wrangell said: "Our return to Nijnei Kolymsk closed the series of attempts made hy us to discover a northern land; which, though not seen hy us may possibly exist."

The statement just quoted is found on page 380 of the first English edition (published 1840). of Wrangell's own "Narrative of an Expedition to the Polar Sea in the years 1820, 1821, 1822 and 1823". This is a translation from an earlier German edition which in turn was based on Wrangell's own Russian narrative written in 1825. Since the Soviet Government almost a century later quoted Wrnagell in an entirely different sense, it is well to insist here that the above quotation is the more significant because it was not published by the author until fifteen years after the expedition was over, thus giving him ample opportunity to modify it if there had been any cause.

The discovery of what we now call Wrangell Island was in a sense an accident. Sir John Franklin had been lost in the Arctic for several years and more than a dozen expeditions were sent out in the great "Franklin Search" which resulted in the discovery of so many new Arctic

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lands. On one of these expeditions Captain Henry Kellett found himself in command of the H. M. S. Herald to the north of Bering Straits the summer of 1849. He sighted a small island which eventually was named after his ship, the Herald. A landing was made and from the top of it was visible to the west the eastern end of a larger land which was destined to appear on the Admiralty Charts as "Kellett's land" or "Mountains seen by Kellett". The theoretical continent still obsessed the minds of geographers, and Kellett's Land was considered to be not only the corner of the "Great Continent" but also the inhabited land about which the natives had told the Russians and the one for which Wrangell had searched in vain.

Last edit 11 months ago by MaryV
Needs Review



In 1867 the United States had just purchased Alaska from Russia. Through the that transaction the last Russian Governor that the territory had become well-known in the United States. He was the same Wrangell (now both Baron and Admiral). That year several American whalers were cruising to the north of Bering Straits. One of them, Captain Thomas Long, came in sight of an island that was not down on the chart which he happened to have with him. Thinking it a discovery, and being familiar not only with Wrangell’s recent governorship of Alaska, but also with his career as an explorer more than 40 years before, Captain Long suggested to a newspaper man when he returned to the Hawaiian Islands that the land (which he supposed himself to have discovered) should be named after Wrangell. It was thus that the present name came into popular use, although it was not generally adopted by map-makers at that time.

The hypothetical Arctic continent was still in the minds of scientists when Lieut, de long was fitted out by the New York Herald in 1879. He steered the "Jeannette" boldly northward from the Pacific into the ice beyond Bering Straits, thinking that he could not drift far for the "continent” would bar the way. But fast in the pack he did drift far-- right across the theoretical continent and byond what now proved to be Kellett's Island rather than Kellett's Land.

By 1881 it was feared that de long's expedition had suffered the fate of Franklin's, and search parties were outfitted. Two ships of the American Government, the Corwin and Rodgers, sailed from the Pacific through Bering Straits. Both landed on Kellett's Island. The Corwin, under Captain Calvin L. Hooper, remained only six hours, a landing about which much has been heard, for she carried the famous author and naturalist, John Muir, and other scientists among whom the most distinguished is Dr. W. E. Nelson, now the head chief of the U. S. Biological Survey. The Rodgers under Lieutenant R. M. Berry, came a few days later and remained for three weeks, making the map which was the only one available for the next 33 years. The Americans assigned to this

Last edit 9 months ago by Samara Cary
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