Lauds Stefansson as Arctic Genius

Cyrus C. Adams, Sept. 18, 1915(p.2)

Text Box: The Friendly Arctic

He Has Won His Place Among Explores, C.C. Adams Asserts.




Geographical Authority Describes Situation of the New land and Predicts Valuable Results.


By CYRUS C. ADAMS President of the Association of American Geographers.



The new land that Stefansson has discovered is about a hundred miles to the north of Prince Patrick Island. The most southerly part of the land which he visited is considerably to the east of the most eastward extension of Prince Patrick Island. The island, as far as he saw it, seems to be nearly bisected by the 115th Meridian west of Greenwich. The lands nearest to it, as far as we know, are the Polynia Islands, a little group to the north of Prince Patrick Island, discovered by McClintock in 1853. They appear to be about seventy-five or eighty miles from the new land.


The island is over 100 miles due west of the northern part of Ellef Ringnes Island, discovered by Svendrup, but its most northern part, as far as Stefansson saw it, appears to be farther north than any other land in the great Parry archipelago to the north of our continent. It probably marks the extension thus far to the north of the comparatively shallow waters that surround the islands of the Parry archipelago. In other words, rises from the continental shelf in shallow water.


The view is now generally held hat all the lands of the arctic rise from shallow water excepting a few volcanic  islands. Stefansson’s discovery, therefore, seems to show that in this part of the Arctic Ocean the sea is comparatively shallow, though Nanson found abyssmal depths in about the same latitude to the north of the New Siberoan Islands.


What Explorer Has Proved.

Stefansson has abundantly proved what he believed he would be able to show, that he would find all the animal food he needed on the ice and in the waters of the ocean. Most of the time he had more than enough for men and dogs. It is a remarkable fact that, after many months of the hardest kind of work he had many dogs left in good condition.


His theories have usually worked out well. Since he first went to the Arctic he has believed that he could live on the resources of either the land or sea. He has proved it. He is a man of enormous strength and endurance. The whalers of the north coast of Alaska have long said that no other man in the north could make the mileage that Stefansson could cover in a day.


On his recent travels over the sea, in a boat which could easily be transformed into a sledge, he had with him two of the best men in his party. One of them, Storkensen, he had known since the days of the Leffingwell-Mikkensen expedition with which Stefansson had his first Arctic experience. His comrades undoubtedly did their full share in the tremendous task in which the explorer was engaged.


We now know that the whalers who went up the west coast of Banks Land and reported that they could not find Stefansson were many scores of miles south of the point where he lived on the fat of the land during the Winter. As he expected, he found animal life very abundant.


Another notable achievement was Stefansson’s completion of the charting of the northeast coast of Prince Patrick Island. There was a stretch of some fifty miles of this coastline which McClintock and Mecham did not cover in their survey. The gap is now filled and we will now have a fairly good outline on the maps of this large island.


Lived Like the Eskimos.

Stefansson has proved, on a larger scale than any other polar explorer, that the blubber and oils of the animals he killed would amply provide all the fuel and light he needed during the Winter night. He has always maintained that this would be the case, and he was confident that if he was confident that  if he had an opportunity to try it the experiment would be successful. He said these commodities were good enough for the Eskimos, and he could make them just as efficient as the Eskimos do.


One of the bases of his polar plans has been his idea that he could live and thrive in the Arctic just as well as the  Eskimos. He has often expressed the opinion that the Arctic natives, on the whole,  live very comfortably, that they have plenty of food and suitable clothing, that their houses are fairly healthful, and that they do not suffer many of the ills of life unless they are beguiled by white men to live in frame houses as they do at some of the stations on the North Alaskan Coast.


Very few persons in our country believed yesterday morning that Stefansson was alive. Burt McConnell, who tried long and unsuccessfully to raise funds with which to send north aeroplanes and aviators with which to scour the regions of the sea ice to the north of Western Alaska and Eastern Asia, believed that the ice drift had carried the explorer far to the west, but that he could live on the seal and polar bear he found, and that sharp-sighted men in airships could detect the struggling human beings above the white snows and help them to escape from their frigid environment.


Joseph F. Bernard, who knows Stefansson and his genius for living and working in the arctic,, recently wrote that he had no doubt that the explorer was alive, but believed that the drift had carried him to the west and he should be looked for in that direction.


A few of the explorer’s personal friends have expressed the utmost confidence that the explorer was alive and that we would hear from him very soon. A letter came to me a week ago from some of Stefansson’s closest friends in Massachusetts expressing the utmost confidence in his safety and predicting that he would very soon know that he was alive and doing well.


The sublime confidence of these devotees is now amply rewarded. But most of the world and practically all Arctic explorers believed him dead. The brilliant record he has now established will be welcomed by all; and in spite of the terrible disaster which overwhelmed his party at the outset, he has won his place as one of the most remarkable of polar travelers. He has turned disaster into victory; and what he has done since he set out with two comrades through the unknown regions of the Northern Sea establishes his fame as one of the most intrepid, resourceful, and successful explorers of the Far North. If fortune favors him he will do more, during the coming season, to bring to light the regions in which he is at work.




A Great Achievement, if Confirmed, He Asserts.


PORTLAND, Me., Sept. 17. – Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary said tonight that the news of the safety of Vilhjalmur Stefansson confirmed what he and others familiar with arctic conditions had believed when the explorer was reported between Banks Land and the mouth of the Mackenzie, that if he and his associates reached land they would be able to subsist indefinitely and would return.


“If it is true, as reported, that Stefansson has discovered new land in the vicinity of Banks Land and Patrick’s Land,” said Admiral Peary, “it is a great achievement.”