Franklin’s Lost Expedition

29 Jul

A rather romantic artist’s portrayal of “Franklin’s Last Stand” in the icy wastes of the Arctic around 1845 (from the pages of Popular Mechanics):

A somewhat less romantic version “Man Proposes, God Disposes“, by the painter Landseer in 1864:

From Wikipedia:

Franklin’s lost expedition was a doomed British voyage of Arctic exploration led by Captain Sir John Franklin that departed England in 1845. A Royal Navy officer and experienced explorer, Franklin had served on three previous Arctic expeditions, the latter two as commanding officer. His fourth and last, undertaken when he was 59, was meant to traverse the last unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage. After a few early fatalities the two ships became icebound in Victoria Strait near King William Island in the Canadian Arctic. The entire expedition complement, including Franklin and 128 men, was lost.

This sums up the legacy of the expedition rather nicely:

The most meaningful outcome of the Franklin expedition was the mapping of several thousand miles of hitherto unsurveyed coastline by expeditions searching for Franklin’s lost ships and crew. As Richard Cyriax noted, “the loss of the expedition probably added much more [geographical] knowledge than its successful return would have done”.

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