Timeline of the
Exploration of the Arctic Region
(for a more detailed timeline go to www.south-pole.com)
According to the Icelandic Saga, Floki Vilgerdarson discovers Iceland.
Erik the Red discovers Greenland.
Leif Eriksson seeks America crosses the Atlantic to Newfoundland.
Willem Barents makes three journeys to the north searching for the NE passage and discovers Spitsbergen.
Henry Hudson makes three voyages to Greenland, Spitsbergen, Jan Mayen, Hudson River and Hudson Bay. His ship on the first two expeditions was the "Hopewell", on the third voyage he sailed the "Half Moon", and the "Discovery" on the fourth voyage.
William Baffin and Robert Bylot make two voyages to Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay. During his voyage on the Discovery, commanded by Robert Bylot, Baffin deduced the first longitude calculated at sea by observing the occultation of a star by the moon. He made an intensive study of the south shore of Baffin Island in Hudson Strait and of the western end of Southampton Island, paying special attention to the tides. This search for the Northwest Passage ended when he entered the ice-choked Foxe Basin. After this expedition, Baffin rightly concluded that there was no navigable passage leading northwest through Hudson's Strait.
The First and Second Kamchatka (Great Northern) expeditions take place as part of a larger scheme initially devised by Peter the Great. Vitus Bering, Aleksei Chirikov, Khariton and Dmitry Laptev, Vasily Chelyuskin and others explore the Bering Sea and Arctic Siberia.
In July of 1776 Captain James Cook set sail on the Resolution for his third voyage to look for a possible northern sea route between Europe and Asia. In 1778, after discovering Hawaii, he sailed up the northwest coast of North America, and was the first European to land on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. He continued up the coast through the Bering strait, and entered the Arctic Ocean. Great walls of ice blocked the expedition. He was forced to turn around and headed for Hawaii. This expedition establishes the separation between the Asian and American continents.
William Edward Parry's first voyage in search of the Northwest Passage. Parry was the first to reach 110º west longitude, off Melville Island, but the ice prevented his going further and he put in at Winter Harbour, on Melville Island, where the freeze-up kept him until August 1, 1820. He then continued west to around Cape Dundas. After having discovered a new land to the south, Banks Island, he had to give up his research because of ice conditions and return to England. This voyage, one of the most important in the history of Arctic exploration, showed that Lancaster Sound opened a passage to the west, and revealed the complex labyrinth of islands through which the sea route to the west would have to be sought. Source: www.collectionscanada.ca
John Franklin's first overland/canoe expedition down the Coppermine River and east to Point Turnagain in search of the Northwest Passage. It ends disastrously with eleven members of the expedition losing their lives.
Parry's second voyage in search of the Northwest Passage reaches Fury and Hecla Strait from Hudson Bay.
Parry's third and final voyage to the Canadian Arctic again in search of the Northwest Passage ends with the wreck of one of his vessels, the Fury on Fury Beach Somerset Island. Parry took his crew abors the Hecla and returned to England.
John Franklin's second overland/canoe expedition to the Arctic Sea coast of the Canadian mainland. His parties explore and map more than a thousand miles of coastline from Coronation Gulf to Prudhoe Bay Alaska.
Parry's expedition attempting to reach the North Pole via Spitsbergen; he reaches 82°45' North and establishes a farthest north that will stand for fifty years.
James Clark Ross is the first to reach the North Magnetic Pole.
Peter Dease and Thomas Simpson of the Hudson Bay Company overland/boat expedition to fill in gaps on the coastline left by Franklin from Point Barrow in the west to Castor and Pollux Bay (Rae Strait) in the east.
Sir John Franklin's expedition aboard the vessels Erebus and Terror (Today, two prominent mountains on Antartica's Ross Island are named after these famous vessels, Mt. Terror and Mt. Erebus.) in search of the Northwest Passage.With him were 128 stalwarts of the Royal Navy; up-to-date maps and sophisticated tools; three years' worth of ample provisions; and two advanced ships, iron-clad, steam-heated and steam-powered. The ships were never seen again.
James Clark Ross expedition in search of Sir John Franklin with vessels Investigator and Enterprise.
John Richardson accompanied by Dr. John Rae leads an expedition in search of Franklin. A transcript of a talk by Dr. John Rae about his arctic explorations can be found here.
Lieutenant W.J.S. Pullen leads expedition by boat in search of Franklin exploring the Arctic coastline to the Mackenzie delta.
Robert McClure leads expedition in through the Bering Strait in search of Franklin. Richard Collinson, head of the expedition, sailed on the Enterprise, and McClure was in command of the Investigator.He establishes the last link in one route of the Northwest Passage. After this expedition, McClure was promoted to captain and knighted. Parliament voted to give a sum of £ 10 000 to the officers and men of his ship for having discovered the Northwest Passage.
Ten vessels strike out for Lancaster Sound and the eastern Arctic in search of the Franklin Expedition. They all aimed to explore Wellington Channel, the northward-leading waterway between Cornwallis and Devon Islands. Captain Horatio T. Austin is in charge of an official four-ship Admiralty dispatch. The four vessels, Resolute, Assistance, Pioneer and Intrepid, are later joined by six others: William Penny, a famous whaling captain, commands the Lady Franklin and Sophia; the Hudson's Bay Company outfits the schooner Felix and its supply ship North Star for Sir John Ross to command; American shipping magnate Henry Grinnell purchases Advance and Rescue, turns them over to the US Government who in turn places them under the command of Lieutenant Edwin De Haven. Elisha Kent Kane is surgeon on one of DeHaven's two vessels.The ten vessels were soon assembled at the vicinity of Beechey Island. Traces of white men wintering were everywhere, but no written records were discovered. The proof they were looking for eventually turned up when they discovered graves with inscriptions of three men from Erebus and Terror who had died that first winter. Source: www.south-pole.com
Charles Codrington Forsyth leads Lady Franklin's privately financed expedition in search of her husband on the Prince Albert.
William Kennedy accompanied by Joseph-René Bellot leads another expedition privately financed by Lady Franklin in search of her husband.
Sir Edward Belcher leads a five-ship Admiralty expedition in search of Franklin.
Edward A. Inglefield explores Smith and Jones Sounds returning to England with the (false) story that Franklin had been murdered by Greenland Eskimos.
Elisha Kent Kane leads the second U.S. expedition in search of Sir John Franklin choosing a Smith Sound route.
Dr. John Rae sent by the Hudson's Bay Company to complete a coastal survey in the area of King William Land and Boothia discovers relics of the Franklin Expedition in the possession of the Eskimos. British authorities gave him the $10000 reward for establishing the fate of the expedition.
Francis Leopold M'Clintock leads the Fox expedition financed by Lady Franklin that confirms Rae's report of Franklin's fate.
Issac Hayes leads a U.S. expedition in search of the open Polar Sea.
American Charles Hall makes his first Arctic journey in search of Franklin survivors.
Hall's second expedition reaches King William Island.
Charles Hall's third expedition in search of the North Pole aboard the Polaris Hall dies under mysterious circumstances in November 1871. On the return voyage half the Polaris' crew are stranded on the ice in a storm and drift for six months before being rescued by whalers.
George Nares leads the British Navy's last attempt at Arctic exploration in search of the North Pole. His two ships were based in north Ellesmere Island.
Baron Nordenskiãld completes the first successful navigation of the Northeast Passage.
Lieutenant George Washington DeLong of the U.S. Navy commands the ill-fated Jeannette expedition searching for the North Pole from Siberia.
Adolphus Greely leads an American expedition to Ellesmere Island as part of the First International Polar Year. His junior officer Lieutenant Lockwood establishes a farthest north taking from the British a record they have held for three centuries. Only six of twenty-four expedition members survive.
Robert Peary attempts and fails to cross Greenland.
1888 Fridtjof Nansen makes the first crossing of Greenland.
Peary's first large Arctic expedition to North Greenland.
Peary's second Greenland expedition.
Fridtjof Nansen with Otto Sverdrup in the Fram drifts across the Arctic Ocean and establishes a new farthest north.
Peary's third Arctic expedition fails in its attempt to reach the North Pole.
The Duke of Abruzzi leads an expedition in search of the Pole from Franz Josef Land; Lieutenant Cagni establishes a farthest north 22 miles beyond Nansen's.
Roald Amundsen completes the first successful navigation of the Northwest Passage.
Peary's fourth Arctic expedition fails in its attempt at the Pole but establishes a new farthest north.
Alfred Wegener, German meteorological pioneer and polar explorer and father of the Continental Drift Theory, joins Danish expedition to Greenland's unmapped northeast coast. During this expedition Wegener became the first to use kites and tethered balloons to study the polar atmosphere.
Frederick Cook claims to have reached the North Pole.
Peary claims to have reached the North Pole.
Knud Rasmussen's 5th Thule Expedition across Arctic America.
Richard E. Byrd overflies the Pole in a Fokker trimotor plane.
U.S.S. Nautilus (nuclear submarine) passes under the Pole.
The Skate becomes the first submarine to surface through the ice at the Pole.
Ralph Plaisted reaches the Pole using snowmobiles with air support.
Wally Herbert leads a dogsled expedition from Alaska to Svalbard with air support.
Naomi Uemura makes a solo overland trek to the Pole.
Paul Schurke and Will Steger lead a dogsled expedition to the Pole without resupply. Ann Bancroft becomes the first woman to complete such an expedition.
Helen Thayer does a one-woman solo trek to the Pole.