The Cruise of the Corwin; Journal of the Arctic Expedition of 1881 in Search of De Long and the Jeannette

Description

The Corwin was a revenue cutter in the service of the United States Department of the Treasury that in 1881 was sent on a mission to the Arctic Ocean to search for survivors of the USS Jeannette, an exploration ship that set out from San Francisco in July 1879 and was feared lost in the Arctic. The Corwin also was to search for two missing New England whaling ships. The Scottish-born naturalist, conservationist, and writer John Muir (1838‒1914), already well-known for his exploration of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, joined the expedition together with two other scientists. The voyage began when the Corwin arrived at Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands on May 18 from its home port of San Francisco, and it concluded in September of that year, after the Corwin was forced to turn back by storms and ice in the vicinity of Point Hope, northwestern Alaska. In addition to helping with the search for the Jeannette and its crew, Muir used his time in the Arctic to study the people, flora, fauna, and geology of Alaska and Siberia. His participation in the cruise of the Corwin was one of several expeditions that Muir made to Alaska, including as a member of the Harriman Expedition of 1889. The Cruise of the Corwin: Journal of the Arctic Expedition of 1881 in Search of De Long and the Jeannette, posthumously published in 1917, is Muir’s account of the voyage, based on notes and drawings that he made at the time. The book includes chapters on Plover Bay (also called Providence Bay) in Siberia and Saint Michael in Alaska, Siberian reindeer herds, polar bears, caribou, walrus, and other topics. Illustrated with drawings and photographs, it contains two appendices: I, The Glaciation of the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Regions Visited During the Cruise, and II, Botanical Notes. In his introduction to the work, the editor, William Frederic Badè, a professor of religion, president of the Sierra Club, and Muir’s literary executor, notes the important scientific discoveries that Muir made and that are documented in the narrative and the appendices.

Last updated: January 10, 2018