By the late 1800s, most of the earth had been mapped and explored. Explorers, eager to seek out new lands and adventures, looked to the frozen ice caps.
But the lands of ice and frigid waters were also deadly. In 1848, a 129-man English exploration party journeyed into the Arctic on two steam-powered ships. They were never seen again.
The seasons change so swiftly in these extreme climates that explorers could find their ships quickly locked in ice several feet thick. And as the cold increased, the ice swelled, shifted, and could grind the ship into splintered pieces, leaving the crew marooned in a frozen wasteland.
Despite the dangers, explorers couldn’t restrain their curiosity and their sense of adventure. The polar regions offered few material rewards or riches. Instead, each adventurer hoped to be the first man or woman to set foot on the North Pole and claim the glory for him- or herself and for his or her country.