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01.12.2020

Virgohamna, Svalbard

One of the most intriguing places in the northwest of Spitsbergen is Virgohamna, on the gloomy gravel island of Dansøya, where the remains of several broken dreams scattered on a lonely beach now lie. Among them are the ruins of three 17th century whaling kilns and eight stone-covered graves of the same era. You will also find the remains of a cottage built by Arnold Pike, an English adventurer who sailed north and spent the winter eating polar bears and reindeer.

The next adventurer here was Swedish engineer Salomon August Andre, who in the summer of 1897 left the Virgin in a blimp hoping to reach the North Pole. The fate of his expedition was known only in 1930, when sailors from the ship hunting for seals landed on the shore and came across their last place in Kvitoy.

Then, in 1906, journalist Walter Wellman, sponsored by an American newspaper, tried to reach the North Pole in a blimp, but failed. The following year, when he returned to try again, his ship was badly damaged in a storm. At the third attempt, in 1909, he sailed within 60 km of the Pole, faced technical problems and gave up forever; mainly because he heard that Robert Peary had already reached the Pole anyway (although this claim is now largely discredited). All remaining garbage (including dozens of rusty 44-gallon fuel drums) is protected. The erosion damage caused by the few visitors who managed to get here was significant, so do the right thing and stick to the marked paths.

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