21.06.

1900: Polar Expedition in Search of a Mythical Island Populated by Neanderthals and Mammoths

1900: Polar Expedition in Search of a Mythical Island Populated by Neanderthals and Mammoths
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 21 June 1900
  • The leader of the expedition was Baron Eduard Toll, originally Baltic German, but in the Russian service. They set sail on a special ship named Zarya, equipped for polar conditions. It is interesting that one of the officers on board was young Alexander Kolchak (future admiral and "Supreme Ruler and Commander-in-Chief of All Russian Land and Sea Forces" in the civil war against the Bolsheviks).

On this day, the famous Russian polar expedition set sail from the former imperial capital Saint Petersburg.

The ship was named Zarya (which is Russian for Dawn) and was equipped for polar conditions. Zarya had twin propulsion – steam and sail – and 20 members of the expedition were on board. The leader of the expedition was Baron Eduard Toll, originally Baltic German but in the Russian service.

The commander of the ship was naval officer Nikolai Kolomeitsev, and it is very interesting that one of the officers on board was young Alexander Kolchak (future admiral and “Supreme Ruler and Commander-in-Chief of All Russian Land and Sea Forces” in the civil war against the Bolsheviks).

The ship Zarya sailed around Scandinavia and continued north toward the Arctic. The main aim of the expedition was to find a legendary island called “Sannikov Land”. This so-called phantom island was supposed to be located further north than any known land and was supposed to be quite large. According to rumors, it hosted a Siberian tribe that has otherwise become extinct. Indeed, according to some science fiction stories, Neanderthals and mammoths lived on this island.

Baron Toll, on the far north where Zarya was trapped in ice, got off the boat and went even further by kayak and sled, taking three crew members with him. None of them was ever seen again. It turned out that the “Sannikov Land” was just a myth.

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