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.

1st International Polar Year (IPY)

The International Polar Year was the brainchild of Karl Weyprecht (1838-1881), who conceived the idea while discovering Franz Josef Land as co-leader of the Austro-Hungarian expedition of 1872-1874.

Richard E. Byrd is born

Richard E. Byrd is born In Winchester, VA, son of Richard Evelyn Byrd and Eleanor Bolling Flood.

2nd expedition to Antarctica: BAE II

"My decision to return to Antarctica with a second exploring expedition was not so much a spontaneous thought as a maturing compulsion bred by the work of my first expedition."

Ice Stream B in Antarctica renamed Whillans Ice Stream

September 20, 2001 The Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names revised its 2000 decision and changed the name of Ice Stream B in Antarctica to Whillans Ice Stream, in honor of the late Ian M. Whillans, a BPRC glaciologist who conducted research of the West Antarctic Ice Streams.

Frederick A. Cook is born

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

George Hubert Wilkins is born

George Wilkins is born at Mt. Bryan East, South Australia, 31 October 1888. George was the youngest of 13 children born to Harry and Louisa Wilkins.

Cook volunteers for Peary's Greenland Expedition

In 1891 Dr. Frederick Albert Cook began his career as an explorer as a member of Peary's first expedition to North Greenland, where he served as Peary's surgeon and as ethnologist.

Cook joins the Belgian Antarctic Expedition

In 1897, Cook volunteered for the Belgian Antarctic Expedition, and achieved international recognition in his role of surgeon and photographer. He made important scientific discoveries on this expedition, including the effect of eating raw meat in order to cure the ship's crew of scurvy. Cook also served a critical role on this expedition in his efforts to release the frozen Belgica by sawing a canal in the ice.

Cook begins North Pole Expedition

In 1907, Cook made his quest to the North Pole, and claimed to have reached the Pole on April 21, 1908. However, drifting ice prohibited his southward return, and he was forced to spend the Polar night in a shelter with his two Eskimo companions. It wasn't until September 1, 1909 that Cook announced his discovery of the North Pole.

Cook's 1st expedition to Mt. McKinley

In 1903 Cook led an expedition to Mount McKinley, which resulted in his circumnavigation of the Denali range. It was 75 years later before this achievment would be repeated.

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