27 February, 2002
GOOD-BYE TO PALMER STATION!
The Laurence M. Gould is scheduled to depart from Palmer Station today. On board will be a team of scientists who have been out in the Southern Ocean on a GLOBEC cruise. They are coming back to Palmer Station to pick up the eight scientists and support personnel who are returning to Punta Arenas. I will be one of them.
It makes it easier to leave when I think about all the other people who have come and gone from Antarctica before me. One of the interesting things about Antarctica is the history of the continent. There have been three vivid reminders of that history while I have been here.
First, in January we had a visit from HMS Endurance, the British ship doing hydrographic work in the area. Many residents of Palmer Station were invited out to the ship (see journal of January 17th). Endurance is named after the ship of the same name, captained by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his voyages of exploration to Antarctica. Hanging in the wardroom of the Endurance is a framed photograph said to be the personal property of Sir Ernest Shackleton. It is entitled "St. Paul's from the Thames", dated 1886. The photograph is said to have been with Shackleton on all his voyages to Antarctica. It was aboard the Endurance (and saved by Shackleton) when the ship was crushed by the ice in 1915. The photograph was given to HMS Endurance by the Shackleton family. A granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton is the patron of the ship.
We had another interesting glimpse of history with the visit of one of the tour ships. One of the experts on board the ship, lecturing in the history of the area, was John B. Killingbeck of England. Mr. Killingbeck worked with the Faulkland Islands Dependency Survey from 1960-1963. They surveyed a great deal of the Antarctic Peninsula, using dogsled teams to transport themselves out into the field. They would camp and survey for two to three months at a time. The surveyors went out in teams of two men. Each man had a sled and nine dogs.
Mr. Killingbeck was invited back to the Antarctic Peninsula in 1994, when the last fifteen dogs in Antarctica left from the British base Rothera. The dogs, descendents of the earlier dogs used in Antarctica, were leaving as a condition of the Antarctic Treaty, because dogs are not native to Antarctica. Mr. Killingbeck and his partner worked with the dogs on a last surveying expedition on the Antarctic Peninsula. Then they accompanied the dogs on their journey via airplane to the Faukland Islands, from there to London, and then on to Boston. Once in North America, the men and the dogs went by truck and sledge to an Inuit village in Canada. The dogs' ancestors had come from there originally.
The third reminder of Antarctic history is right next to my bedroom. It is the back stairwell of the GWR building. Hanging there are 36 group photos of the people (and in the early days, the dogs) that wintered over at Palmer Station. The earliest photo is from 1965. The most recent photo is that of the group that was here for the winter season (approximately March-October) in 2000. It is a great reminder of the people who have been to Palmer. Most of them probably left with mixed emotions, as do I!
Good-bye, Palmer Station!!
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