Saturday, 7 July 2012

The canyon .All my hope is gone

Was given its name by Lieutenant Whipple in 1853. This canyon presented such an obstacle to his historic thirty-fifth parallel survey party that he wanted to let all that followed know what he thought of it. Devil's Canyon was appropriately named.below nardi
Other survey parties, like Whipple's, had to go miles out of their way just to cross the canyon. Lieutenant "Ned" Beale on his famous camel expedition of 1857 reported the canyon as impassable. The railroad tried to span the canyon in 1881 but Canyon Diablo once more lived up to its name. Evidently the timber parts of the railroad bridge were pre-assembled elsewhere and the plans were misread. The bridge came up several feet short!
  Even before Man was known to live in this area, some 22,000 years ago, a giant nickel-iron meteor weighing several million tons and traveling at a speed of 133,000 miles per hour had plunged into the earth, creating a huge crater just east of Canyon Diablo, and destroying all life for a 100 mile radius. The meteor is estimated to have been only 81 feet in diameter, though the crater today is nearly a mile in diameter and is nearly 600 feet deep. Some prehistoric peoples left ruins within the rim of the crater, indicating that they found it a suitable place to live.

  The Meteor Crater wasn't considered to have been caused by a meteorite until 1886, when sheepherders found pieces of meteorites near Canyon Diablo. In 1891, a leading geologist, G. K. Gilbert, declared that the crater had not been made by a meteor. It wasn't until 1903 when Dr. Daniel Barringer, a mining engineer who was convinced that a large metallic meteor had created the crater, began drilling at the site but was unsuccessful in mining the mineral.

   His project to locate the main mass of the meteorite was abandoned in 1929 after drilling to a depth of nearly 1400 feet on the southeastern slope of the crater. Modern technology reveals that about 80% of the meteorite had been vaporized on impact and that only about 10% still lies beneath the south rim.  An excellent museum at the site tells the story very well.

The first known Europeans to see Canyon Diablo were Spaniards from part of Coronado's expedition into New Mexico in 1540-42. They were led by Captain Don Garcia de Cardenas, and had been sent by Coronado from the Hopi villages to find the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. They crossed Canyon Diablo where it enters the Little Colorado River.

  For the next 300 years, countless explorers, settlers, traders and treasure seekers, trying to establish a direct route to the beautiful San Francisco Peaks on the western horizon and from there to the Pacific,  forced to make a detour of some 25 miles either north or south in order to proceed across the Little Colorado River. In 1853, Capt. Amiel W. Whipple, on his historic thirty-fifth parallel railroad survey for then Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, reached the edge of the deep gorge and dubbed it Canyon Diablo.
 He wrote in his journal, "we were all surprised to find at our feet, in magnesium limestone, a chasm probably one hundred feet in depth, the sides precipitous, and about three hundred feet across at the top. A thread-like rill of water could be seen below, but descent was impossible.  For a railroad it could be bridged and the banks would furnish plenty of stone for the purpose." It was almost three decades later that Whipple's estimate of the depth of this canyon was found to be lacking 155 feet

  Spaniards were passing continually from New Mexico through this area from 1750 on.  The first American traders who are known about arrived in 1825.  They were beaver trappers, who did their trapping along the Little Colorado which, until the late 1880s, contained a heavy growth of cottonwoods and willows extending out into the mud flats.  After the American occupation of the southwest, the regular route from the east in a direct line to the San Francisco Peaks on the horizon led traders and other travelers right to the level rim of the chasm known as Canyon Diablo.  From the Indians the travelers would learn that access to water and a crossing point could be reached a few miles downstream.  True, it was a fairly steep, rough route, but it was certainly more possible than the one they had first encountered.

  Along these walls hundreds of names were cut into the rock. Of the earliest still existing one can be read in part:
S       .Bac   -............
de Julio 1830

Another has only the date, 1849, legible, but dates from 1860 to the middle 1880s are many.

  In 1854, only one year after Whipple had been through this country and made his survey, Felix Aubrey, a Santa Fe trader, laid out the first wagon route eastward across northern Arizona, traveling from San Jose, California with sixty men to Santa Fe. When he reached the west rim of Canyon Diablo, he was baffled until Indians told him he could detour downstream. He then proceeded north along the rim to the regular crossing.  While at Canyon Diablo, he met a large number of Indians, who traded him $1500 in gold nuggets for some old clothing and blankets, but wouldn't disclose the source of the gold. After reaching Santa Fe, he was killed in August of 1854 in a personal encounter. His route was known after that as the California Santa Fe Trail.

  The next major survey of the 35th parallel was the famous Beale Camel Experiment in 1857. Again, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis was the official largely responsible for this seemingly bizarre endeavor of using the camels to pack supplies and equipment from Fort Defiance, Arizona to California's eastern frontier. Seventy-nine camels, imported from the Middle East through Texas seaports, were led by Arab, Greek and Turkish camel drivers and commanded by colorful Ned Beale, later to become well known as the one who carried the news of the California gold strike to President Millard Fillmore. 
 Beale's expedition reached Canyon Diablo. His guide had warned him that he could not cross this chasm so far south of the Little Colorado, but he had to find out for himself, going north to the old trail. At this time the trail was designated as the Beale Road. Beale took his camels to his ranch at Fort Tejon, California. The following year, he made another trip along the road he had laid out.  The Civil War ended what had been a successful experiment with camels able to carry 700 pounds each and survive on the desert vegetation.  Plans for a railroad to the west coast were put on hold until the 1880s, and the camels were sold or escaped into the wild.  Some of those camels were seen in the area as late as 1900.  Beale's Camel Road remained the basis for the 1920's National Old Trail Highway, which we know as Route 66, or for the younger ones of us, U.S.40.

  Activity in the area was not at a standstill, however. Indeed, from 1860 on, sheep and cattle ranchers had located not many miles away, and grazed their animals along Canyon Diablo. The first big sheep man of importance was John Clark, who brought 3000 head of sheep from California to the area for summer and fall grazing in 1875. The following year William Ashurst, father of one of the first U. S. Senators from Arizona, Henry Fountain Ashurst, located south and used Canyon Diablo ranges part of the time. The same year, the Daggs brothers brought more than 10,000 sheep from California into the area.

  During the 1850s, Apaches often raided north, and Navajo families would find refuge in the depths of Canyon Diablo. It was there, in the Canyon, that the pack train traders, the forerunners of later established trading posts, would find them. By that time they were trading lead, bullet molds, powder, dye, buffalo robes, cotton blankets, flints, Green River knives, cloth, glass beads and imitation silver jewelry.
 In trade they received from the Indians horses, mules and plain striped handmade woolen blankets known as wagon blankets. One trader well known to the Navajo for many years after, was called "Billikona Sani " (Old American). He arrived during the summer of 1852, and spoke Navajo, indicating that he had probably lived previously among the Navajo tribesmen. The wonderful magic which he performed was mixing the raw alcohol he carried at one gallon to three of water, and adding cayenne pepper and chewing tobacco. This was what was known as Arizona Frontier Whiskey.

  When the Navajo tribal roundup of 1864 began, many Navajo families fled into Canyon Diablo and its many caves to avoid being discovered by U.S. troops. Eight-thousand Navajo were eventually imprisoned at Fort Sumner, New Mexico for four years.
Their livestock and land were taken by the cavalry. The Civil War halted settlement for some years, but after that war, the cavalry returned to battle the Indians, the first at Canyon Diablo being on April 18, 1867. Herman Wolf, a beaver trader for many years in this area, was setting up a large stockade picket post on the river downstream from the mouth of Canyon Diablo.  He and the U.S. Army were both engaged in fighting renegade Indians. But when most of the Navajo were released from Fort Sumner and returned to their homes in 1868, many of them traveled down the Little Colorado basin, perhaps thinking that the mere presence of a white man at Wolf Post afforded them protection. From there they moved south into their old hunting grounds along both sides of Canyon Diablo.

  It was not until November, 1881, that the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad construction, running from Ft. Smith, Arkansas across the plains to Albuquerque, and then west toward Los Angeles, reached the eastern edge of 255 foot deep Canyon Diablo. Timber parts of the bridge to span the gorge were pre-assembled elsewhere, but someone misread the plans; the bridge came up several feet short. This mistake plus other financial difficulties meant that construction was delayed for seven months.


By this time, the remarkable Edward Ayers, later to become a chief benefactor of the Field Museum and the Newberry Library in Chicago, had assembled a sawmill and taken it to the end of the track, transported it by ox-team across the Little Colorado and to Flagstaff, and wasted no time in establishing the Ayers Lumber Company, which provided the lumber for the railroad as it proceeded west.

  While waiting for the bridge to be built, the shack town of Canyon Diablo grew into a wild place populated by some 2,000 untamed citizens.  The yellow-painted depot, the section crew's house, stock pens, a water tank, freight docks and warehouses stood at the western end of the town on railroad property.
  From there a mile-long row of tin, tar paper and canvas buildings extended eastward along both sides of the one rocky street.  Hell Street had fourteen saloons, ten gambling houses, four houses of prostitution and two dance pavilions, a grocery and dry goods store and several eating counters.  Murder on the street was common and there was a holdup almost every hour.  Tales about the exploits of colorful characters at Canyon Diablo, including Billy the Kid, Keno Harry, Clabberfoot Annie and B.S. Mary were every bit as wild as those told about Tombstone or Virginia City.
  The sawmill men and Flagstaff merchants provided a salary for a marshal, but finding someone to fill the job was not easy. The first marshal lasted a mere five hours before he was killed; the second, two long weeks; the third, three weeks before he was shot with forty-five slugs; the fourth, six days.

  There followed a period when the town was without a marshal, until a stranger, an ex-preacher from Texas, rode into town carrying two pistols, and being spotted by the hiring committee, was offered the job. Being hungry, he accepted, and lasted a record thirty days, killing a man a day and wounding so many that the railroad hospital in Winslow refused to accept any more gunshot victims. Canyon Diablo's Boot Hill, located south of the railroad tracks, had 35 graves at one time, but most bodies were buried throughout the town, wherever they fell.

   When Flagstaff businessmen appealed to Territorial Governor Frederick Little for help, he requested that the army restore order. However, by the time the army was to be deployed, the gorge of Canyon Diablo was bridged, and the railroad proceeded on west to California. This, which was claimed to be the highest railroad in the world, had cost $200,000. Completed in June, 1882 after one year, it was 541 feet long, 223 feet high, 11 spans at 30-300 feet each, and used 1489 cubic yards of masonry. When the first train rolled over it at 3:37 on July 1, 1882, the rip-roaring town of Canyon Diablo died overnight. Whereas during the previous two years Canyon Diablo had been the railhead for Flagstaff and Prescott, with large loads of freight being transferred to wagons and proceeding north on the east rim of the canyon to the old crossing, with passenger trains making regular runs from Winslow and a regular stage line being operated from Flagstaff to Canyon Diablo, the importance of the town as a transportation hub was non-existent once the bridge was built.

  The location became famous as a site for train robberies, the most lucrative being in 1889 when a train had stopped at the station to take on water, and was robbed by four men, who managed to take the contents of the safe, as well as watches and jewelry. Sheriff Bucky O'Neill and several other officers pursued the four cowboys into Utah and back into Arizona, where they were captured. One escaped, the others were imprisoned at Prescott, but of the over $100,000 in loot they had stolen, only $100 was found on them, leading to the belief that they had buried the rest of it below the rim of Canyon Diablo.  The treasure has never been found but many have searched for it ever since.

  The year 1886 was the year when Fred W. Volz established a trading post at Canyon Diablo. The trading post was built near the southwestern boundary of the Navajo reservation, and just a few yards away from the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad depot at Canyon Diablo. Mr. Volz was to remain there until 1910, establishing both a U.S. Post Office and a Wells Fargo Station at the trading post. Since the Post was painted white, the Navajo referred to it as Kinigai (White House). Their name for the Canyon was Kinigai Boko (White House Canyon). Fred Volz and his wife were married during these years and had one daughter, Jeanette, who lived there from 1890 to 1910.


  To this day, both passenger and freight trains speed along the Santa Fe Railroad (formerly Atlantic & Pacific) tracks past the ruins of the trading post, and cross Canyon Diablo on the bridge, rebuilt in the same spot as the 1882 bridge. The masonry bases of the original bridge stanchions can be seen next to the bases of the present one. The Canyon Diablo Train Station was a flag stop for many years after the town died.
  In 1934, Philip Hesch, signal maintainer at Canyon Diablo Station married the widow of Earl M. Cundiff. The Cundiffs had lived in the area for ten or more years, Mr. Cundiff had been shot and killed in 1926 by a man who had leased the store they owned. 1934 was also the year that the big trading post burned. That same year Mrs. Ray Thomas, with an invalid husband, taught school at Canyon Diablo station.


  Life goes on, at a slower pace, while tourists speed by on U.S. 40. A sturdy barbed wire fence marks the line between the southern boundary of the Navajo Reservation and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad tracks. Just north of this fence, on Reservation land, the rocky ruins of the Volz trading post seem not to have disintegrated markedly in the last 30 years. A building dating back to the 1920s or 30s nearby has been used as a souvenir store and as a fine modern ranch home, but was completely vandalized some time in the last ten years. Where there was a road in 1963 leading from Route 66 to this spot, there is now only a trail requiring a four wheel drive vehicle and a lot of determination to cover the one and a half miles from U.S. 40 north along the Canyon toward the visible row of power poles along the railroad. To mark the site of the once noisy town, there is only a small, tired sign next to the tracks saying, very softly, "

Friday, 6 July 2012


n the French Revolution, the sans-culottes  were the radical partisans of the lower classes; typically urban laborers. Though ill-clad and ill-equipped, they made up the bulk of the Revolutionary army during the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars. The appellation refers to the fashionable culottes (silk knee-breeches) of the moderatebourgeois revolutionaries, as distinguished from the working class sans-culottes, who traditionally wore pantaloons (trousers).

Among the political ideals held by the sans-culottes were popular democracy, social and economic equality, affordable food, rejection of the free-market economy, and vigilance against counter-revolutionaries. During the peak of their influence, roughly 1792 to 1795, the sans-culottes provided the principal support behind the two far-left factions of the Paris Commune, the Enragésand the Hébertists.Led by populist revolutionaries such as Jacques RouxFile:GirondistsExecution.jpg
 and Jacques Hébert, the sans-culottes were rallied to provide critical support for the radical and far-left factions of the successive revolutionary governments. Shifting crowds of militantsans-culottes also provided the strength behind some of the more violent and visceral events of the revolution, such as theSeptember massacres in 1792. When the moderate bourgeois Jacobin Club took over the National Convention in 1793, many sans-culottes even supported the Committee of Public Safety and Maximilien Robespierre's bloody Reign of Terror.
By early 1794, however, radicalism was rapidly losing influence and political legitimacy in the National Convention. It was not long before Robespierre and the Jacobins turned on the far-left factions of the National Convention as well as their radical sans-culottessupporters. Several important leaders of the Enragés and Hébertists were imprisoned and executed by the very revolutionary tribunals they had supported. With the absence of effective leadership, and having lost their favor with the Jacobins, the sans-culottes withered. Within a year of the execution of Robespierre and the Thermidorian Reaction, the militants were forcibly - and permanently - suppressed by the conservative new government, the French Directory.
[The guillotine (called the "National Razor") became the symbol of the revolutionary cause, strengthened by a string of executions: Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, the GirondinsFile:GirondistsForce.jpg
, Philippe Égalité (Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans) andMadame RolandFile:Madame Roland IMG 2268.JPG, as well as many others, such as pioneering chemist Antoine Lavoisier,File:Robespierre exécutant le bourreau.jpg
 lost their lives under its blade. During 1794, revolutionary France was beset with conspiracies by internal and foreign enemies. Within France, the revolution was opposed by the French nobility, which had lost its inherited privileges. The Roman Catholic Church was generally against the Revolution, which had turned the clergy into employees of the state and required they take an oath of loyalty to the nation (through the Civil Constitution of the Clergy). In addition, the First French Republic was engaged in a series of wars with neighboring powers intent on crushing the revolution to prevent its spread.

the revolt of abd el krim

Abd el-Krim,

in full MUHAMMAD IBN 'ABD AL-KARIM AL-KHATTABI (b. 1882, Ajdir, Mor.--d. Feb. 6, 1963, Cairo, Egypt), leader of a resistance movement against Spanish and French rule in North Africa and founder of the short-lived Republic of the Rif (1921-26). A skilled tactician and a capable organizer, he led a liberation movement that made him the hero of the Maghrib (northwest Africa). A precursor of the anticolonial struggle for independence, Abd el-Krim was defeated only by the military and technological superiority of the colonial powers.

Son of an influential member of the Berber tribe Banu Uriaghel, Abd el-Krim received a Spanish education in addition to the traditional Muslim schooling. He was employed as a secretary in the Bureau of Native Affairs. In 1915 he was appointed the qadi al-qudat, or chief Muslim judge, for the district of Melilla, where he also taught at a Hispano-Arabic school and was the editor of an Arabic section of El Telegrama del Rif.

During his employment with the Spanish protectorate administration he began to be disillusioned with Spanish rule, eventually opposed Spanish policies, and was imprisoned. He escaped and in 1918 was made chief Muslim judge at Melilla again, but he left the post in 1919 to return to Ajdir.

Soon Abd el-Krim, joined by his brother, who later became his chief adviser and commander of the Rif army, was organizing tribal resistance against foreign domination of Morocco. In July 1921 at Annoual he defeated a Spanish army and pursued it to the suburbs of Melilla.  base in the W

Faced with Abd el-Krim's successes and seeing in his movement a threat to their colonial possessions in North Africa, the Franco-Spanish conference meeting in Madrid decided upon joint action. As a Spanish force landed at Alhucemas near Ajdir, a French army of 160,000 men under Marshal Philippe Pétain attacked from the south. Confronted with this combined Franco-Spanish force of 250,000 men with overwhelming technological superiority, Abd el-Krim surrendered on May 27, 1926, and was exiled to the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Receiving permission in 1947 to live in France, he left Réunion and was granted political asylum en route by the Egyptian government; for five years he presided over the Liberation Committee of the Arab West (sometimes called the Maghrib Bureau) in Cairo. After the restoration of Moroccan independence, King Muhammad V invited him to return to Morocco, which he refused to do as long as French troops remained on North african soil


the far passage

The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
 The various islands of the archipelago are separated from one another and the Canadian mainland by a series of Arctic waterways collectively known as the Northwest Passages or Northwestern Passages.
Sought by explorers for centuries as a possible trade route, it was first navigated by Roald Amundsen in 1903–1906.
 Until 2009, the Arctic pack ice prevented regular marine shipping throughout most of the year, but climate change has reduced the pack ice, and this Arctic shrinkage made the waterways more navigable.
 However, the contested sovereignty claims over the waters may complicate future shipping through the region: The Canadian government considers the Northwestern Passages part of Canadian Internal Waters,but the United States and various European countries maintain they are an international strait or transit passage, allowing free and unencumbered passage.
The tales of North American exploration and westward expansion have often been painted in tones of manifest destiny, heroic bravery, and divine providence. While such portrayals surely prove insightful in some cases, they do not paint the whole picture. A more accurate depiction of American exploration would include the driving forces of economic gain, na•ive optimism, overeagerness, and the hasty acceptance of geographical misinformation. The strength of these motives and forces was so strong that for centuries adventurers continued to explore the continent despite constant disappointment and financial loss. In particular, the closely related myths of the Strait of Anian and the Northwest Passage were the impetus for numerous expeditions. The promises they held were more than enough to fuel not only imaginative thought, but discoveries that would forever affect North American exploration and history.

The origin and dissemination of the theories about the Northwest Passage and the Strait of Anian alone would be enough for a lengthy study. Yet beyond mere origins, the manner in which explorers reacted to, and eagerly believed their times. From the myths' advent to their eventual rejection, explorers and governments placed surprising faith in these geographical concepts. In consequence, exploration was both generated and sustained by the hope of finding a passage to the Orient. Without these legends and the explorers' nai•ve eagerness to act upon them, America would have continued to lay unexplored for unknown years.
In 1745, readers of the Virginia Gazette, a weekly newspaper published in Williamsburg, learned that back in England Parliament “had resolved to bring in a Bill to grant a Sum of Money to any Person or Persons who shall discover the N. West Passage.”
 Seven years later, the Gazette informed its audience that “an Officer of the Marine who has been twice or thrice at Greenland” had given “Reasons for supposing there is an open North West Passage into the South Seas.” After fifteen more years had passed, the newspaper said, “Great discoveries have been made relative to the North West passage.” After five additional years, subscribers saw that “the Government is preparing to send out Major Rogers . . . in Pursuit of the North West Passage.” Two decades later, the Gazette reported that the empress of Russia had dispatched three ships to attempt “the Discovery of the north west Passage to China.” A year later, two British ships were sailing “at the End of Spring . . . to discover a Northern Passage to the South Sea”—as the Pacific was called. When spring arrived, the paper said two French frigates were “fitting out at Brest . . . to attempt the north west passage” ahead of the British
Throughout the eighteenth century, explorers from Great Britain, Denmark, France, and Russia tried and failed to find the Northwest Passage, that is, a practical route from the Atlantic seaboard of America to the Pacific that would shorten the trade route between Europe and the Far East. All failed, but they were in storied company. Long before and long after their ventures, sailors and trailblazers tried to find the passage. In the twenty-first century, nature may be opening the way. The New York Times reported in October 2007, “The Arctic ice cap shrank so much this summer that waves briefly lapped along two long-imagined Arctic shipping routes, the Northwest Passage over Canada and the Northern Sea Route over Russia.”
For at least four centuries, finding the Northwest Passage was a dream like finding the golden fleece, the Holy Grail, the fountain of youth, and cities of gold. Uncovering a route from Europe to the Far East by sailing west inspired explorers, churchmen, businessmen, and governments seeking an easier path to glory, converts, goods, and power. John Logan Allen, author of Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American Northwest, wrote that the quest endured so long because the desire for such a route trumped its nonexistence. By the way, Lewis and Clark were looking to find an all-water route to the Pacific, too.
“A lot of geographical ideas,” Allen said, “are born out of desire: If you want something to be organized in a certain way, it will be—in your head. If you have a strong geographical imperative, you can say, ‘I don’t want to be confused by geographical facts.’
“The desire in this case belonged to European powers and businesses that were eager for a way to get their goods cheaply and quickly to the East, and return just as quickly and cheaply with Asian supplies.” Europeans “knew it was a rich area from the reports of Marco Polo and other travelers,” Allen said. “With the increase in agricultural production and population in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, Europe was looking for a source of raw materials, like lumber, and new markets.”
The sources included China, Japan, and Indonesia. The lure of the passage was that it offered a means “of getting the riches of the Orient for the markets of western Europe” and vice versa, said historian James Ronda. The western route seemed to guarantee “wealth and imperial power. Those are strong motives and enormously influential forces.”
In the late fifteenth century, the search motivated such navigators as Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. Cabot was attempting to find a simple way to the East when he ran into a 3,000-mile-wide obstacle: North America. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw efforts by Martin Frobisher, Francis Drake, John Davis, Henry Hudson, William Baffin, and others who probed the eastern and western edges of the New World to find a waterway that connected the oceans.
In the seventeenth century, England established Jamestown in part to “gain the rich trade of the East India, and so cause it to be driven through the Continent of Virginia, part by Land and part by Water, and in a most gainfull way and safe, and far lesse expenceful and dangerous than now it is,” in the words of the 1649 Perfect Description of Virginia. Many of the Northwest Passage explorers would focus on the northern regions of North America in the belief that a polar passageway existed. Belief in it was so common that cartographers put it on their maps and named it the Strait of Anian.
The phrase “northwest passage” first appeared in print in the reports of Richard Hakluyt, a geographer who published Voyages in Search of the North-West Passage in 1587. He sought to prove there was a passage through America “to go to Cathay and the East Indies.” Cathay was another name for China. Citing Plato and Aristotle in support of his argument, Hakluyt said that learned men of the past “would never have so constantly affirmed” such a passage “if they had not had great good cause and many probable reasons to have led them thereunto.”
As the eighteenth century dawned, the long-sought-for route was as elusive as ever. In the Age of Reason, with its emphasis on scientific evidence and provable facts, the idea that the passage might be wishful thinking seemed to have occurred to few. A Spanish admiral recorded in his diary that the passage had “no other foundation than the madness or ignorance of someone devoid of all knowledge of either navigation or geography.” But he was an exception to what Ronda termed “the tenacity of illusion” and “the geography of hope,” which posited, “Because you want it to be there, it will be there.” And people wanted it to be there.
Scholar Philip V. Allingham said that “the matter of a direct sea route to Asia was always foremost in the minds of those controlling British naval exploration. . . . As Britain acquired colonial possessions in the Pacific and the former thirteen colonies became a national rival to British power on the North American continent, Britain’s discovery of a viable Northwest Passage loomed even larger in the minds of government officials.”
In the 1700s, adventurers, scientists, and military leaders had a couple of notions of what the passage was, John Allen said. “By the 1770s, it evolved into a configuration which includes either a large lake or inland sea in the middle of the continent, or a large river navigable to the interior,” where a pyramidal rise in the land would lead to another river rushing to the Pacific. With that notion and others in their minds, eighteenth-century explorers headed into terra incognita:

  • In 1753, the Pennsylvania Gazette reported that Captain Charles Swaine had returned from his search for the passage with the news that “there is no communication with Hudson’s Bay through Labrador where one had here to fore imagined.”
  • In 1778, Captain James Cook was ordered to “explore such rivers or inlets as may appear to be of a considerable extent and pointing towards Hudson Bay or Baffin Bay.”
  • In 1789, Alexander Mackenzie set off on a trek across Canada in an attempt to find a combination of rivers, straits, and other waterways that would unlock the doors to Asia. He failed, but he did not give up.
  • In 1781, J. Carver wrote in Travels through the Interior Parts of North America in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768 that “a Northwest Passage, or a communication between Hudson’s Bay and the Pacific Ocean” could be found and result in “many useful discoveries.”
  • In 1793, Mackenzie made it to the Pacific with a handful of Indian guides and fellow voyageurs. He painted his name on a rock to prove his arrival, but he had proved something else: how torturous the journey was, involving many portages and much walking, impediments to swift trade.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Willie Balderson as Meriwether Lewis discusses with Bill Barker’s Thomas Jefferson the proposed Lewis and Clark expedition to find, among other things, a usable water route through the continent to the Pacific. They did not find it. Colonial Williamsburg’s Willie Balderson as Meriwether Lewis discusses with Bill Barker’s Thomas Jefferson the proposed Lewis and Clark expedition to find, among other things, a usable water route through the continent to the Pacific. They did not find it.

The search for the Northwest Passage, so fascinating to explorers, has intrigued authors and filmmakers, too. Allingham said, “Polar exploration captured the British imagination, as the opening of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness suggests. Dickens’s The Frozen Deep also attests to popular fascination with polar exploration.”
The search motivated Walt Whitman to pen an epic poem, “Passage to India,” a celebration of exploration and global unity. The mention in the Virginia Gazette of the real Major Robert Rogers undertaking a search for the passage has a fictional counterpart in Northwest Passage, a popular novel of the 1930s by Kenneth Roberts. When it was made into a 1940 movie starring Spencer Tracy as Rogers, the search for a passage was lost in a tale about the French and Indian War.
Among the books the Lewis and Clark expedition inspired was 1996’s Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. In 1997, Ken Burns, a documentary filmmaker, produced Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery. The duo’s trek got a fictionalized Hollywood treatment in The Far Horizons, a 1955 film starring Fred MacMurray and Charlton Heston as the explorers


The German Victory? WATERLOO conversions and ...........

treetop figures of prussians


britainstimpo/Britains conversion airfix