Opinion: A mystery, frozen in time, begins to thaw

Zach Lutz

It takes a lot for me to filter through news articles and find one that strikes my interest. Or at least, to find something that I can read for longer than a few minutes and not feel guilty for wasting my time: This requires a type of news story that has all the elements of being not a news story. In truth, I find myself not writing about one thing in particular. Particularly when much of the news is filled with stories and pictures about the Clinton wedding and the oil spill, Lady Gaga’s now-admitted cocaine usage and wildfires; things of great and little importance, but nothing that I feel I know enough about to warrant my opinion.

However, the most intriguing news story that I’ve found in the past few months has been one that doesn’t have occasion for opinion. It’s the recovery of the HMS Investigator that’s got my mind reaching for information. The sheer idea of a grand adventure and 25 feet of ice has me looking into fictionalizations of the Franklin’s lost expedition and brushing myself up on the Wikipedia article about Erebus and Terror. For those of you unfamiliar with the massive Northwest Passage expedition of 1845, the general idea was for Captain Sir John Franklin, who had mapped the majority of the northern coastline of our continent, to continue on through the unmapped area of the Northwest Passage in a fourth expedition. It was ultimately a failure when the two main vessels, Erebus and Terror, became trapped in ice around the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The location of the ships has never been recovered, nor has the body of Captain Sir John Franklin. Also, to date, there are still competing theories as to whether the crews died waiting for rescue expeditions on the ships or began to seek out shelter on land by foot. It is nevertheless one of the more fascinating tales of human strength and, in counting the more than 30 rescue expeditions that spawned from the disappearance of Franklin and his crew, perseverance.

In the list of those rescue missions, the current event at hand has its place. The HMS Investigator, captained by Robert McClure, began its voyage in 1850, its sole purpose being to track down either Erebus or Terror, possibly both. Before realizing how far through the Northwest Passage they had sailed, being within the last leg of the passage, the Investigator was blocked by ice. After attempting again the next summer, they were again blocked by ice and forced to remain in a bay until 1853, where they were eventually rescued. The majority of the crew survived, and now, more than 150 years later, our archeologists have discovered the fully preserved ship within a block of ice using sonar and metal detectors.

If this does not tingle your nerve for adventure, I’m at a loss to say what would. I spend a lot of time attempting to find new ways to be cynical about technology, but this is one story where our electronic advancements have played an integral part in what may be the largest step we’ve had in uncovering the story behind Franklin’s lost expedition. I’ll be here to watch as the pictures become available in the coming weeks, but I’d give anything to be on that boat in the middle of the Arctic, watching my breath form in front of me and waiting to hear if we’ve found what we’ve been looking for.

Zach Lutz is a sophomore English major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]