October 26: An Arctic Adventure

October 26: An Arctic Adventure

Written by Matthew Mendez, Journalist

October 26, 1850. The Irish Explorer, Robert McClure, stumbles upon the Northwest Passage, becoming the first European to traverse the passage. In an attempt to rescue a lost contingent of British explorers under the command of Sir John Franklin, the British government dispatch McClure and his crew to the Arctic, where the explorers were last said to roam. On January 10, 1850, the McClure expedition set out from Woolrich, England, and journeyed around the tip of South America, stopping in the Hawaiian islands to resupply. Eventually the expedition managed to reach the Arctic, yet the journey across the Northwest proved difficult. Packs of ice and snow characterized the Arctic sea, making travel by wooden ship very difficult. McClure’s ship, the Investigator, eventually became trapped in the ice, putting the expedition in dire straits. The expedition faced starvation as well, forcing the crew to abandon the Investigator and traverse the ice to the nearest British settlement. On October 6, 1854, the expedition reached the British port of Ramsgate. After returning to the British Isles, McClure was awarded a £10,000 prize for completing a Northwest Passage as well as knighted and decorated. Despite the huge reward received, McClure would never again venture to the Arctic.