National Geographic : 1962 May
KODACHROMES BY W. ROBERT MOORE, NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC STAFF ) N.G.S. In a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article in 1959, Ipointed out that it was costing some $250,000 a year to heat and power the 18 man South Pole base alone. There is also a tremendous cost in human effort and in genuity, and even human life. I said then, "I feel certain that the benefits of the con trolled atom will be felt in Antarctica in the very near future."* The reactor powerhouses at Camp Cen tury, in Greenland, and McMurdo and other Antarctic bases will bring more than savings in effort and money. They will mean increased time for exploration, map ping, geological investigation, and other scientific studies. Opening the way, Camp Century represents both a daring concept and an amazing feat of engineering. I felt I had something of a personal stake in the Camp Century experiment. After retiring from the Navy, I had served as a consultant on polar problems for Alco Prod ucts, Incorporated, of Schenectady, N. Y., the company that built the camp's reactor. On my trip to Camp Century I was ac companied by W. Robert Moore, Chief of the National Geographic's Foreign Edi torial Staff, and by Whittie J. McCool "Jack" to everyone-the supervisor of re actor experiments of Alco (formerly Amer ican Locomotive Company). Sailing an Ocean of Snow and Ice We flew to Century by way of Thule, the sprawling Greenland coastal air base where 7,000 Americans operate the largest United States installation in the Arctic. From Thule our course took us up over the Greenland Icecap, high above a snow trail twisting around crevasses and point ing inland like an arthritic finger. Land quickly disappeared, replaced by sastrugi-waves of snow sculptured by wind. Sometimes the vast expanse of snow, following the contours of buried moun tains, looked like sand dunes of the Sahara. At other times the tips of mountains pro truded from the icecap and built curving snowdrifts. These peaks reminded me of ships maneuvering at sea, with the drifts their foaming wakes. We knew that the men of Century were still living atop the icecap in Jamesway huts, the wood-frame, canvas-sheathed shelters used in Antarctica too. * See "What We've Accomplished in Antarctica," by Rear Adm. George J. Dufek, NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC, October, 1959.