Genny and Susan travel back in time

Genny and Susan have been crossing the river to reach the sites they are most interested in, including campsites and cairns from Peary’s 1908-09 expedition and the 1875-6 Nares expedition. In this recording, Genny describes visiting the Roosevelt monument left by Peary and his crew (Genny and Susan added their names to the papers left at the cairn in 1985 in a sealed bottle) and the Marvin Memorial, which was erected in honor of Ross G. Marvin, Peary’s assistant and the only casualty of the North Pole Expedition. Traveling back in time to these historic sites is hard work – Genny says the group covered over 12 kilometers that day, and had to turn in early because they were so tired.

A colored lantern slide of the Marvin Memorial:

The Ross G. Marvin Memorial, Cape Sheridan, Ellesmere Island, 1909

2017: sadly the audio file has been lost. The following is a transcript:

Hello from Cape Sheridan, on a cloudy Friday evening.

We are all tired this evening after some long days. Being on the wrong side of the river proved to be quite a challenge. We are near the mouth of the river, where it runs very swiftly and in places is quite deep. Not far inland it has carved a gorge into the gravel and bedrock. For a few days we felt like Captain Bob Bartlett battling the ice as he tried to get the Roosevelt as far north as possible.  Like him though, we eventually reached our goal, and found a place where we could cross the river without getting too wet.

Yesterday was our first day across and in our enthusiasm we may have over done it a bit. We first visited the two sites on Floeberg Beach, where first in 1905 and again in 1908 members of Peary’s expeditions constructed workshops and homes. Eager to get a sense of the area, we continued down the beach to the site where George Nares of the Royal Navy  overwintered with his ship Alert in 1875-76 Everywhere we went there were tantalizing glimpses of historic cairns. we couldn’t resist, so headed toward them. Cairns of course, are typically placed on high points of land where they will be visible from a great distance.

We first reached the Alert’s cairn, after a long climb over alternately hummocky tundra and jagged rocks.  The view is indeed spectacular, with rubble ice as far as we could see. From there it was a relatively short jaunt to the Roosevelt cairn, built in the spring of 1906. There we found a canister with a notebook and surprisingly functional pen, which had been placed there in 1985 for visitors to record their names and comments.

Our last goal was the memorial cairn for one of Peary’s assistants, Ross Marvin, the only casualty of the 1908-09 expedition. Standing at the Roosevelt cairn it was hidden from view, but having looked at it frequently from our camp, we had a good idea where it was and headed down toward it. It was touching to visit the monument with a plaque lovingly created by George Wardwell, the Roosevelt’s chief engineer. It is also the only historic site in the vicinity with modern marker identifying it as a historic site not to be disturbed.

It was a long and gratifying day, but the 12 or more kilometers and long climbs have taken their toll. We got in another good day’s work today, mapping sites and recording the variety of objects left behind in 1909.

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