The Lost Franklin Expedition

Friday, I discussed Fergus Fleming’s Barrow’s Boys: A Stiring Story of Daring, Fortitude, and Outright Lunacy. Yet another highlight of that book was its treatment of the lost Franklin Expedition. In 1845, Barrow dispatched Sir John Franklin to find the Northwest passage – the long sought northern route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific.

Franklin had at his disposal the polar ships Erebus and Terror, the same ships that carried Sir John Ross to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica and the fringe of the Great Ice Barrier that is now named after Ross. Barrow had every reason to believe the Franklin Expedition would be successful. Previous expeditions under Ross, Parry, and Franklin had wintered over in the Arctic with little loss of life. Franklins’ fleet was by far the best prepared and best provisioned expedition yet.

Franklin’s entire expedition vanished. Subsequent explorers came across scattered remains. Only in the 1980s was the mystery solved when it was discovered the expeditions’ provisions contained dangerously high levels of lead. Below is a video graphic of the discovery of the Northwest passage.

Northwest Passage from Dennis Sisterson on Vimeo.

The exploration of the Northwest Passage: 500 years of history condensed to three and a half minutes. The idea behind this was to show the map being filled in as it was discovered.

Thanks to for the recording of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no 6.

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