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Arctic Studies

 
     
  Archaeological wood  
     
    Research on the microbes attacking the historic woods at Fort Conger and the Peary huts on Ellesmere Island
 

 

Few people realize that important historic sites from U.S. expeditions to the Arctic in the late 1800's and early 1900's still exist in the Canadian high Arctic. The sites are a remarkable view into past history and represent extraordinary cultural heritage from the Heroic Era of Arctic exploration. These important structures and artifacts need to be preserved. Our current investigations in cooperation with Parks Canada and Quttinirpaaq National Park are assessing the deterioration taking place in the historic structures, studying the microbes causing decay, monitoring environmental conditions at the site and within the historic structures and providing information for use in developing successful conservation plans for preservation.

The remains of Fort Conger and several huts built by Robert Peary during his expeditions to the North Pole are located on the shores of Lady Franklin Bay, northern Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada. Fort Conger was built in 1881 by the U.S. expedition led by Adolphus Greely. This large wooden fort housed 25 men for several years during their explorations and scientific studies of the North Polar Region. The remains of Fort Conger and thousands of artifacts can be found at the site. In 1900 Robert Peary with Matthew Henson and others established a winter base at the site during one of their expeditions to the North Pole. They built several huts out of the wood from Fort Conger. Two of these huts are still standing and the roofless remains of a third are at the site. Also at this site are artifacts from The British Arctic Expedition of 1875-76 when the HMS Discovery wintered at the site.

The Peary huts and remains of Fort Conger are deteriorating. Wood decay fungi are destroying the wooden structures and artifacts causing serious concern. Salt deterioration and wind erosion is also taking a toll on the exterior woods. Research investigations have begun but funds are desperately needed to continue this work. The extremely high cost of travel to Ellesmere Island and lack of adequate research funding to support the scientific investigations are hampering our efforts to get all of the work done. To help save these unique examples of Arctic exploration and American heritage we have begun efforts to raise funds for this project. If you have an interest in helping to save these huts please visit the following link at the University of Minnesota to contribute a tax deductible donation:

https://www.foundation.umn.edu/pls/dmsn/online_giving.start_null

At this link indicate on the space provided: “These funds are for research by Professor Robert A. Blanchette, Department of Plant Pathology for studying the deterioration of Fort Conger, the Peary Huts and other historic wooden structures of the Arctic”. Also see the Contribution and Fund Raising Page on this web site.

Huts built by Peary and Henson on the shore of Lady Franklin Bay, Ellesmere Island, located about 500 miles south of the North Pole.
 
The wooden huts built during Peary and Henson's expedition are treasures from the Heroic Era of Arctic exploration that need to be preserved.
 
Decay fungi, wind erosion and other forms of deterioration are destroying the structures. Research is underway to help conserve these historic huts but funds are needed to complete this work.

 

©2003-2006 Robert A. Blanchette