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Through the NW Passage for $120,095


One of Sir John Franklin’s ships trapped in ice looking for the Northwest Passage.


I was struck by this New York Times story on a luxury cruise ship sailing through the Northwest Passage.  I couldn’t help but remember how so many lives have been lost looking for this shortcut between oceans.  Probably the most doomed expedition was that of Sir John Franklin in the middle of the 19th century. One-hundred and twenty-nine men died in this venture. Searching for the party to rescue or find their remains provided a cover for the American Navy — through private funding to enter the race to be the first to “find a navigable sea route across the top of North America.” For decades, the Royal Navy considered these waters clogged with ice theirs alone.

My “Whales Tales: Matthew Fontaine Maury and the American Quest for the Northwest Passage” appears in the autumn issue of Sea History, the National Maritime Historical Society’s quarterly. The piece is based upon a paper I delivered this spring at the North American Society for Oceanic History in Portland, Maine.

Here is a link to the paper I delivered:

Whales Tales and the Northwest Passage

Here is a link to the New York Times piece:


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