First (or Second) to Pole: Robert Peary on 1909 April 6th

Admiral Robert Peary with his team (and two dogs) at the North Pole

April 6, 1909, a team of explorers led by Admiral Robert Edwin Peary became the first people to document a visit to the geographic North Pole.

September 7, 1909, readers of the New York Times awakened to a stunning front-page headline: “Peary Discovers the North Pole After Eight Trials in 23 Years.” Here was the American explorer Robert E. Peary sending word from Indian Harbour, Labrador, that he had reached the pole April 6th 1909

A week earlier, the New York Herald had printed its own front-page headline: “The North Pole is Discovered by Dr. Frederick A. Cook.” Cook, an American explorer who had seemingly returned from the dead after more than a year in the Arctic, claimed to have reached the pole in April 1908—a full year before Peary.

Cook’s claim was shaky at best – he provided almost no physical, statistical or anecdotal evidence to back him up. Testimonials from the team that accompanied Cook were contradictory as well, casting further doubt.

On the other hand, Peary didn’t exactly cover his bases, either. For one thing, there was no trained navigator on the journey’s final leg to confirm Peary’s calculations. His navigational work has been criticized for its sloppiness and the distances he claims to have covered within certain time periods strain credulity. The pole-seeking fraternity proceeded to split into  Cook and Peary camps.

History has been kinder to Peary and he is generally credited with being the first person to stand on top of the world. So, we note this date, and hope they got it right



‘Keeping The Faith” ~~ Billy Joel

“Moving On And Getting Over” ~~ John Mayer

“Missed It By A Mile” ~~ Lonesome River Band

“Reach Out I’ll Be There” ~~ Four Tops

“Are You Sure” ~~ Willie Nelson

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