National Geographic : 1925 Jun
THE "BOWDOIN" IN NORTH GREENLAND Arctic Explorers Place Tablet to Commemorate Sacrifices of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition By DONALD B. MACMILLAN J,EADER OF 'I1lII MACM ILLAN \RCTIC 1NXP)EI 1ION, I'NDI IRTill AUsI'IES o Till' NATIONAL. C XOGRAPIIICSociETY, 1925; .AUI'IIR (I "I',KA. V AS A I,EAI R," IN TI NATIONAL ( 1 , )RA I1C MIACAZINE ONE of the objectives of the Bow doin on the Arctic Expedition of 1923-1924 was Cape Sabine, on the eastern shore of Ellesmere Island, where, at the request of the members and lIoard of Trustees of the National Geo graphic Society, we were to place a tablet in memory of the members of the Lady FIranklin Ilay Expedition who died there of starvation in the spring of 1884. The Houdoin, named after my college, was built on the Maine coast especially for Arctic work. Although the smallest vessel ever to go into the Far North, she is undoubtedly one of the strongest, hav ing been built of well-seasoned timber, oak-ribbed, oak-planked, covered with a five-foot encircling belt of ironwood, and a ,7oo0-pound steel plate on her stem to take the brunt of her battle with ice floes. TiLn:; I':XI'EI)ITOI(X REACIIES ETAII We sailed from Wiscasset, Maine, June 23, 1923, and after a voyage of numerous minor adventures, the Bo'lzdoin rounded Cape .\lexander and sighted Etah at mid night of August 7, with the sun bathing every promontory and ice cap in a soft yellow light. The bold north shore, with its gentle green slope culminating in its I,ooo-foot cliff, was beautiful, with its blues, greens, purples, and reds blending into the pat tern of a gigantic oriental rug. 'The waters of the fiord, placid as a mirror, reflected the contour of the bor dering hills, strikingly black in contrast with the gleaming white of the glacier crowning the head of Etah harbor and dropping gently into the clear waters of Alida Lake. The hush of midnight, which steals quietly over the Northland as the sun swings along the northern horizon, was broken only by the musical sound of fall ing waters. One point alone was not attractive, the site of our home of 1913-1917. It seemed so strange, so unreal, to look up and find it gone! Thirty-five feet square, eight rooms, a large, comfortable living room, four bedrooms, a carpenter shop, gener ator room, dark room, all electrically lighted, with double windows, double walls-a real home to welcome us back from long, cold trips-now a flat, debris covered slope, "a tragical vista of pathetic scraps. The morning after our arrival we left Etah for Cape Sabine, 30 miles distant. There was not a particle of ice in sight from the crow's nest. Open water ex tended apparently to the Pole itself. \Vhen within o1 miles of Cape Sabine, how ever, ice seemed fairly to pop up out of the sea, and lay in one solid jam against Ellesmere Island from Cape Isabella northward. This disappearance and re appearance of drift ice is so astonishing that Newfoundland fishermen declare that it rises from the bottom and sinks beneath the surface. Running along its edge, we examined the drift ice carefully for open water; it presented an unbroken front. I decided to return to ltah and await a more favor able opportunity to erect the memorial. Till' TRAGIC STORY O1' Tll GRE I,Y PARTY AT CAe; SABINE; Upon the northern side of Cape Sabine is the site of the Greely Camp of 1883 84. The 23 officers and enlisted men of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, with two Eskimos, under command of Lieu tenant Adolphus W. Greely, landed at \Vade Point, 16 miles southwest of Cape Sabine, following their memorable retreat in boats from Fort Conger, 220 miles north. It was here that they fully ex pected to meet the relief ship sent by the United States Government.