Saturday, September 21, 2013

The North Pole was discovered in 1909, the year Rosetta was born

Over a century ago, explorer Robert Peary earned fame for discovering the North Pole, 
but did Frederick Cook get there first?

Frederick Cook and Robert Peary

On September 7, 1909, readers of the New York Times awakened to a stunning front-page headline: "Peary Discovers the North Pole After Eight Trials in 23 Years." The North Pole was one of the last remaining laurels of earthly exploration, a prize for which countless explorers from many nations had suffered and died for 300 years. And here was the American explorer Robert E. Peary sending word from Indian Harbour, Labrador, that he had reached the pole in April 1909, one hundred and four years ago this month. The Times story alone would have been astounding. But it wasn't alone.

A week earlier, the New York Herald had printed its own front-page headline: "The North Pole is Discovered by Dr. Frederick A. Cook." Cook, an American explorer who had seemingly returned from the dead after more than a year in the Arctic, claimed to have reached the pole in April 1908—a full year before Peary.
Anyone who read the two headlines would know that the North Pole could be "discovered" only once. The question then was: Who had done it?

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