Thursday, February 11, 2010

Historic Journalism

“Hunting the Garden of Eden at the North Pole”

The Oklahoman, March 31, 1912

Professor Garrett P. Serviss Tells Why an Expedition

Bound Now for Mysterious Crocker Land May Find

in the Once-Tropical Arctic the Birthplace of the Human Race.

By Prof. Garrett P. Serviss [Note: bylines were rare during this time]

Far more interesting than any mere finding of those imaginary mathematical points called the poles of the earth’s axis, is the object of an expedition which is to leave New York next Summer on a dash for the frozen Arctic. Backed by the American Museum of Natural History, the American Geographical Society, and led by George Borup and Donald MacMillan, both of whom were with Perry on his last Voyage, this expedition aims to explore the last, and perhaps the greatest, land of mystery that the round world contains.

The unrivaled importance of their search may be indicted by the statement that the land they seek may prove to be the true site of that “terrestrial Eden” of which man has dreamed for ages, and which, from time immemorial, he has endeavored in vain to locate. In ancient literature it was known as the “Hyperborian Land,” and 2,500 years ago old Pindar sand of it and its seekers:

“Neither by taking ship

Nor by any travel on foot

To the Hyperborian Land

Shalt thou find the wondrous way”

American enterprise may now find that way, nevertheless.

Many readers may never have heard of this strange land, for its existence has only been known for the past five or six years, and the eyes of only one white man are known ever to have rested upon its distant outline, the eyes of Peary, when, in July, 1906, he peered with his glass from Cape Thomas Hubbard, the northernmost point of one of the islands lying north of the North American mainland, and saw its snowclad peaks gleaming above the shimmering horizon of eternal ice far away in the northwest. The name of Crocker Land has been bestowed upon this mysterious region. Peary made no attempt to reach it, for the aim of his expedition, the North Pole, lay in a different direction.

The discovery of Crocker Land bears a striking resemblance to that of the most distant planet of the solar system, Neptune, for the location of both was found by calculation before either had actually been seen. Astronomers discovered Neptune because of its attraction to the next most distant planet, Uranus. Dr. R. A. Harris, of the United States coast and Geodetic Survey, similarly discovered the existence of Crocker Land by its influence upon the tidal currents of the Arctic Sea, and just as Leverrier said to the gazers in the observatories, “Look at this point in the sky and you will see a new planet,” so Harris, in effect, said to the adventurers in the far north: “Look in this place, north of America and Siberia, and you will find a new land.” And in both cases those who looked saw what had been predicted.

This wonderful resemblance goes still farther. Loverrier and Adams were able to predict the size of the unseen planet, and so Harris has been able to predict the probably size of Crocker Land. He thinks, from its influence on the direction and force of the tidal waves, that it may cover an area of 500,000 square miles. That is about as large as the whole of the New England Middle, Atlantic Coast and Gulf states (with the exception of Texas) put together. It may be that the whole of the mysterious area concerned may not be covered by land, but that it may consist of a great archipelago, many of whose islands, however, must be of large extent.

This may be the true “Atlantis,” that continent of mystery of which Plato told the legend, and which was fabled to have sunk beneath the sea, with all its millions of inhabitants and all its treasures of antique civilization. The old traditions frequently connected the fabled land of the Hyperborians with Atlantis. In this case the glittering peaks which Peary glimpsed may be all that now remains above the sea level of the original home of the human race.

Many times the effort has been made to prove that the most ancient legends and traditions contained in the literatures of all nations, from the Chinese and the Hindoos to the Greeks, can best be explained upon the supposition that they all refer to a time when the human race dwelt in the far north, within the Arctic Circle, and in the immediate neighborhood of the North Pole. The most curious proof of this is found in the fact that the old legends seem to indicate that in the beginning men saw the heavenly bodies revolving around them in a horizontal direction, as they would appear to a person situated in the neighborhood of the Pole. There, instead of rising and setting every day, the sun, moon, and stars simply move round and round the sky with the rotation of the earth on its axis. There the heavenly bodies rise and set only once a year, and six months of daylight is followed by six months of night. Dr. W. F. Warren has shown that ancient traditions refer to such a condition of things as being familiar to the earliest men, before they emigrated from the birth land of their race toward the equator. Anaxagoras, an ancient Greek astronomer, has a singular passage in which he says: “In the beginning the stars revolved...the sun."


Monday, February 8, 2010

Carved Stone Props Legend of Lost Land

Sunken Continent Theory Believed Fortified

New York. Oct 19 (1937) -- (AP) -- A clue to a lost world in the Pacific ocean was announced here Tuesday by the Fahnestock-South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History.

The clue is swastika-like symbols, some say as big as windows, carved four inches deep in the face of a huge 40-ton monolith apparently hewn by human hands from an immense boulder. It was discovered in the Fiji islands.

There is nothing in the present South Sea peoples to explain the skill or tools which cut and carved this monolith. The symbols are not yet classed with any hieroglyphs or picture writing known.

The monolith, however, fills in an archeological trail running half way across the Pacific ocean which points to two possiblitities. One is a civilization which has disappeared. The other is a sunken continent, usually called Mu, that once might have filled that part of the ocean.

The discovery was made by Bruce and Sheridan Fahnestock of Manhasset, NY. They sailed from here two years ago on the 65-foot schooner, Director. They returned Tuesday.

They found the monolith on the island of Vanua Levu. A native legend of a vast cataclysm in the past led them to the great stone. They heard this legend on a sister island, Viti levu, 30 miles across deep water from the island of the monolith.

The legend says the two islands were once one and that the greater island had a written language.

Hidden Corners of History

On Christmas day 1966, an ambitious expedition launched from the Galapagos Islands in hopes of proving native Ecuadorans helped populate Polynesia some 2,000 years ago. This voyage, which utilized a 46' x 30' Justify Fullbalsa wood raft similar to those built by ancient South Americans, was dubbed an "Anti-Kon Tiki" experiment, referencing the famed vessel built and sailed by ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl.

The journey was led by Vital Alzar, a language professor from Santander, Spain. Alzar had just gotten married the day before setting sail with his crew that included such diverse members as an anthropologist, a photographer, and even a member of the Canadian mounted police.

However, the voyage was not without its share of misery. During a particularly devastating Pacific storm, the raft was struck by a large wave and a member of the crew, Pastora Lora, an Ecuadorian, was washed overboard. The crew of the sinking raft then had to be rescued by the Ecuadorian navy.
Subsequent voyages to Australia befell similar heartache, leading perhaps to Alzar's choice of choosing surrealist painter Salvador Dali to create an insensitive emblem for the main sail on his 1970 raft La Balsa: a logo incorporating a stylized heart and pair of testicles. "A man needs both of these if he is to go through the fire," Alzar said.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Looking down our noses...

Watched a re-re-rerun of a UFO documentary on the History Channel that was narrated by some Englishman. Toward the end of the program, he talked about cattle mutilations and talked to the ranchers involved. In his summary of that particular mystery, he described the ranchers as "superstitious" and afraid of things they don't understand, in effect coloring them as ignorant yokels.

As someone who grew up in a farming and ranching state, I feel the need to defend these men and women from his ignorant stereotype. In modern times, a great deal of large ranches are run by individuals who - brace yourself - actually went to college, earning degrees in agriculture. The days of roaming the range are over and cattle production is a complex and expensive process that, for those in charge, requires a bit more than a GED. These are men and women who understand science and technology. They are not superstitious cowboys, but rather down-to-earth people who aren't prone to wild speculation. In fact, the many I've know can be described as absolutely dull. I say this only to attest to the fact that the image painted of ignorant rednecks cowering fearfully from "all that fancy stuff out there" is erroneous and bigoted. While it may have allowed this documentarian to further his agenda, it was completely unfair to the sensible, intelligent individuals who have often witnessed strange and inexplicable happenings.