Date: September 19, 2000
I can't resist numbers, so I checked the longitude of Cape
Washington (from the map made later by the Danish team) against Peary's calculation. The Danes got 38 degrees W. Peary
got 38 degrees 41 minutes W. This is an error of about 5 miles, or 2
minutes, 44 seconds of time. Most likely source of error is that Peary's
watches had gained this much time since he last checked them at a known
longitude (presumably Fort Conger).
Another possibility is that the "known" longitude at which he checked his
watches was incorrect. The Danes should have got it right, but I might check
against a modern chart. The Danes surely used radio time signals to
eliminate any possible error in time. I noticed that the Danes had C. Morris
Jesup at latitude 83-38, which I think is just about exactly what Peary had.
I remember some guy named Liljenquist, or something like that, went up there
in the 60s or 70s and "discovered" that Peary's latitude was correct, and
that other maps that had it much further north were wrong. Don't know what
those other maps might have been. Liljenquist was the chief scientist at
Control Data Corp. in Minnesota, and was a polar buff, and probably a good
guy. However, he did get bamboozled by Dennis Rawlins when the famous "slip"
slip-up occurred. The Washington Post sent Rawlins' analysis to him to check
the story. (They probably gave him about 20 minutes to think about it.) He
said, yep, looks like Rawlins has got it right. Dennis complains that the
NGS blessed Peary's tale of attainment of the pole based largely on their
assessment of Peary's credibility. That is exactly what Liljenquist
apparently did for Rawlins. Rawlins is an astronomer, so he must have got it
right. Gets back to the point that people only read the dust jacket of a
Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2000
I referred to Goodsell's diary mentioning Peary discovered new land. It was
Wolfe (I think) or whoever was the doc on 1906 trip. Goodsell was 09. The
mind goes. A little clarity on the "insularity" of Greenland. Greely's boys
had been up the north coast almost to Cape Washington (next major cape west
of C. Jesup). The Victoria Fjord cuts this northern coast off from the lower
part of Greenland and runs more or less from west to east. Along the
southern shore of the Victoria Fjord, a number of major glaciers spilled
down from the ice cap.
All this was known before Peary set out. What was not known was how far to
the east the Victoria Fjord went. As Peary headed north east, he passed the
upper reaches of the first couple of known glaciers that empty into Victoria
Fjord and then kept seeing similar geography as he was diverted due east.
That is, the ice cap sloping down toward peaks of rock that appeared to be
the nunataks (if I have the right term) between which glaciers were emptying
into the Victoria Fjord. (Problem was that at some point, Peary had passed
the end of the Victoria Fjord, and he was seeing the rocky hills on the
south side of a valley, not a fjord.) When Peary got to Navy Cliff, he tried
to sort of look back to the west, but he really couldn't see much (and he
pretty much says that), but he just figured that all the low lying area back
in that direction was the Victoria Fjord, and that it hooked up with the
fjord (Independence Fjord) that he could see immediately north of the cliff
and heading off to the northeast.
This would mean that Greenland was an island, and that the part now referred
to as Peary Land was a bunch more islands. These little islands did not
appear to have ice cap, so there was not likely to be another huge land mass
that would include the "highway to the pole" that Peary was looking for.