1909 expedition to the North Pole
Peary & Henson's 18 year partnership spelled success
Commander Peary was a brilliant civil engineer and Naval officer. Henson was his highly skilled assistant.

Peary was "top of his class" at Bowdoin College (Maine) and later picked from a national competition to be a civil engineer for the US Navy. As a commissioned officer he twice surveyed possible routes through the jungles of Nicaragua before the Panama Canal route was finally chosen. His skill in surveying would later allow him to make very accurate maps of the Arctic lands he discovered in North Greenland. His approach to reaching the North Pole was a mixture of two disciplines; one military and the other engineering.

However, this technique took years to evolve and to be perfected; it was complicated and extremely expensive. But where literally hundreds of others had died, or returned crippled from the amputation of frozen body parts, Peary's team suffered no such casualties. (except one of the Eskimos shot and killed team member Marvin)

Follow these 25
pages to see how they reached the North Pole.

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(left) Peary's 1910 book. (right) Lecture Poster. His achievement has been called "The crown jewel of 19th century exploration."

Peary's book recounts the logistical problems of taking an entire Eskimo village on his wooden ice-breaker, the Roosevelt, with hundreds of dogs for an entire winter; like factory workers he kept them sane and occupied making sledges, fur clothing, dog harnesses from walrus hide, even manufacturing from raw materials small cans to carry their alcohol fuel.

The logistics
of it are fantastic even today. Imagine being further north than any ship had ever wintered over, in the black Arctic night, 50 degrees below zero, no contact with civilization, in a virtual bedlam of dogs and very smelly Eskimos! Then the heavy hauling of tons of supplies to the base camp began. The assault towards the Pole put 24 men with more than 130 dogs onto the frozen ocean.
Pictures adapted from Robert E. Peary's book The North Pole, 1910, Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York.

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