It is fragile, "rather grimy" and ripped in one section, she said. It is also marked up with dates, she said. But those dates correlate to the movements and wreck of the Karluk, the tear matches one seen on an old photograph of Bartlett holding a chart, and the dirt and stains help explain "what it and Bartlett went through," Kaplan said.
The expedition, launched in , was supposed to use its first voyage to travel from British Columbia through the Bering Strait to the Canadian Beaufort Sea. But the ship got stuck in ice north of the Bering Strait and was blown far off course, heading into Siberian waters.
Just before the ship was crushed in the ice and sank on Jan. Bartlett also abandoned ship, but not before collecting his charts and supplies, Kaplan said.
Culture Contact and the Frobisher Voyages - The Ultimate History Project
Eleven crew members died on Wrangel Island, or died trying to get there. The Karluk disaster has become part of Arctic lore. Bartlett -- an experienced Arctic mariner and a colleague of Robert Peary -- is considered one of the story's heroes because of the mile trip he and an Inupiat companion made over snow and ice to summon help from the Russian mainland. The surviving crew members were rescued eight months after the Karluk sank.
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Stefansson , the expedition leader, has been criticized by historians for what were considered to be his ill-advised attempts in subsequent years to claim Wrangel Island as Canadian territory, a campaign that resulted in deaths of four people who were trying to colonize the remote site that is now a nature reserve. As for the now-identified Bartlett chart, the museum's plan is to hire a specialist to work on "stabilizing it so it doesn't completely fall apart," and then putting the chart on exhibit, Kaplan said.
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