Polar Timeline

The Polar Timeline seeks to combine the life events and achievements of three major explorers - Byrd, Wilkins and Cook - with the achievements of the Byrd Polar Research Center, within the context of other US and World Polar events.

Images and other media from the archival collections of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Frederick A. Cook, Sir George Hubert Wilkins and the Byrd Polar Research Center are featured in this timeline.

1497-08-23 00:00:00

John Cabot leads first expedition seeking Northwest Passage

Sponsored by Henry VII of England, this would be the beginning of more than 400 years of attempts to navigate a Northwest Passage.

1553-08-23 00:00:00

Sir Hugh Willoughby attempts Northeast Passage

Willoughby's entire party of men died in Lapland.

1819-08-23 00:00:00

William Edward Parry begins first true opening of the northwest passage

Sailing though Lancaster Sound into the unexplored Canadian archipelago, the Parry expedition wintered at the Melville Islands. This was the first deliberate Arctic wintering by British naval ships.

1820-01-01 00:00:00

First recorded sighting of the Antarctic continent

Two expeditions, each unaware of the other's existance, made the first sightings of the Antarctic mainland in January 1820.

1820-01-01 00:00:00

John Franklin explores the north coast of America

Franklin was the captain of this British naval expedition that explored the north coast of America east from the Coppermine River to the Hudson Bay.

1845-08-23 00:00:00

John Franklin attempts the Northwest Passage yet again

Though this was the most lavishly equipped Northwest passage expedition in history, it was an epic failure.

1853-12-01 00:00:00

Elisha Kent Kane credited with discovery of the open polar sea

Kane participated in two Arctic expeditions. Both were John Franklin rescue missions.

1865-06-10 00:00:00

Frederick A. Cook is born

Frederick Albert Cook is born on June 10, 1865 in Hortonville, NY.

1867-06-10 00:00:00

US purchases Alaska from Russia

At about this time, the focus of Arctic exploration shifts from the discovery of a navigable Northwest Passage to other parts of the Arctic, and ultimately, the attainment of the North Pole.

1881-10-25 00:00:00

Greely Expedition to Lady Franklin Bay

Led by American Adolphus Greely, the expedition attained farthest north, and 83 degrees 24 minutes. However, imclement weather doomed the expedition in their third winter. Eighteen men died, mostly from famine and scurvy.

Polar Timeline

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