The Farmer and Settler Newspaper Friday Febuary 10, 1922


Nearly fifty years ago an exploring party, who were prisoners, came by accident upon new land.  The Arctic winter night having set in they explored it by moonlight, called it Franz Josef Land, after their Emperor, and put a message in the sea that now, under the lapse of nearly half a century, has been picked up and brought to light in civilization. There are few stranger stories in Arctic exploration than that, but the whole voyage referred to in this long lost message was marvelous and almost incredible.

The expedition was the Austro-Hungarian attempt, begun in 1872 by Lieutenant Weyprecht and his friend Payer, to do some new things in unknown waters. They set forth in the little 300-ton steamer Tegethoff, with a crew of German, Slavs, Italians, and Hungarians, and Captain Olaf Carlsen, a veteran ice fighter, all determined to follow where fortune should beckon.

Carlsen the year before had had his own romance. While exploring around Nova Zembla he had had the amazing good fortune to find the very house in which old Barentz had lived his valiant but terrible days 257 years before.  That was Carlsen's good luck, but now, instead of his finding other men's homes, an iceberg was to find his-and to keep It.

On the night of 22nd August 1872, when off the north-west coast of this same Nova Zembla, the ship was steered into an opening in an iceberg. In the night the Iceberg took the ship prisoner, and never released it. The ship was frozen in and never came out.

Yet still, it went a-voyaging. The iceberg drugged it to and fro on the strangest journey over accomplished. The steam in the skip's boilers died down, but the Iceberg journeyed on with winds and currents for motive power, dragging the ship with her, a trophy, a helpless symbol of the Dread North's conquest over man.

For two years the little ship was tugged hither and thither with her men on board. North-east she was hauled, then north-west, and then due east, north again, next to the west, then in and out and round about until they returned to much the same position as that from which the voyage in captivity had begun, back to Nova Zombla, to start once more for the north.

It was during that unparalleled voyage that the vessel was dragged into the vicinity of land that her helpless crew knew had never been recorded on the map.  Fifty-three weeks after the ice had seized the ship she was hauled by her jailer against these new shores. For a month they were drugged along before they could land, and then the Arctic night had come, relieved only by the Northern Lights, which Illuminated the now possession with weird and frightful grandeur.

The party had terrible adventures.  Once, as Payer and a companion were out with a dog-team, the snow gave way beneath their feet and then shot into a frightful crevasse. Payer has left above with dogs, sledge and the other explorer all hanging to the harness by which he was bound to them. To remain as he was meant a terrible death for all,  and so, seen a ledge 40 feet below where the others were hinging, he cut the harness and let sledge, dogs and man fall.

Then he ran six miles back to camp to fetch assistance He threw off his clothes to lighten his burden, he threw-off his boots, and he completed his run over the ice in his stockings.  And he did procure assistance, for the sledge party, after staring death in the face down in the frozen crevasse for hours, was brought back to safety.

Ultimately, after their ship had been two years in the Ice, the party set out in boats, crossed the water back to Nova Zembla, and were picked up by a Russian vessel. Before quitting the ship they wrote an account of their experiences, recounting the discovery of the new land they had named. They enclosed the letter in a water-proof parcel, and that message had been floating ever since in the sea and has now been found and brought home from the Nova Zembla shore by Professor Olaf Holtedahl, a Norwegian explorer.  It comes to light to recall feats of men now dead, from Islands they named after an emperor whose very dynasty has vanished and whose last representative, Karl Hapsburg, has just been taken as a prisoner to Madeira. 

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