8/21/2019

In 1845 explorers sought the Northwest Passage—then vanished

"On paper, the expedition seemed to lack for little. The crew was young, tough, and seasoned. The ships, sheathed in iron, bristled with the latest Victorian-era technology—from steam engines to heated water and an early daguerreotype camera. The vessels carried more than three years’ worth of food and drink, as well as two barrel organs and libraries with some 2,900 books. Two dogs and a monkey kept the men company in their quarters.

But these small floating worlds were no match for the Arctic’s frozen seas. On Admiralty orders, the expedition sailed to one of the most treacherous, ice-choked corners of the far north. By September 1846, both vessels were imprisoned in sea ice northwest of King William Island. They remained so for at least a year and a half of brutal polar cold."