Schwatka's Search: Sledging in the Arctic in Quest of the Franklin Records

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A cavalry officer in the US Army, with training in law and medicine, Frederick Schwatka (1849-92) became interested in the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin following the search attempts led by the American explorer Charles Francis Hall. Supported by the American Geographical Society, Schwatka sailed in 1878 with five others in search of written records, believed to be deposited in cairns. A soldier turned journalist, William Henry Gilder (1838-1900) accompanied Schwatka and published this illustrated account in 1882. Their sledge journey with a party of twelve Inuit was at that time the longest on record. No documents were found, but the expedition did discover artefacts and graves of Franklin's men. Schwatka concluded that no scientific results from Franklin existed. In his adoption of Inuit techniques for safe travel in the Arctic, he preceded Vilhjalmur Stefansson by many decades.