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100 Years Ago: December 1922


This is the 95th monthly entry in my ongoing series about 100-year-old National Geographic Magazines.



The first article in this month’s issue is entitled “The Glory That Was Greece” and was written by Alexander Wilbourne Weddell, formerly American Consul General at Athens.  Of the article’s “52 Illustrations” noted on the cover, forty-three are black-and-white photographs, of which a full twenty-five are full-page in size.  Eight other illustrations are full page engravings, that I will discuss later.  The final illustration is a sketch map of Southern Greece on page 574.

Sketch Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

The author spent six years in Greece.  He called it the land of “cloudless climes and starry skies.”  He was sent by the Government and he arrived by sea.  It took three days sailing from Sicily.  As he neared the coast, a line of low-lying islands echeloned toward it.  Before Mr. Weddell’s eyes laid the Plain of Attica, surrounded by hills, with “Athens, the eye of Greece,” as its center.  To the right rose Hymettus, famous for its honey; to the left, and nearer, was the island of Salamis; a bow-shot away, Psyttalia; and still further to the left, the ranges of Parnes.  The author swept that panorama with powerful glasses.  The city revealed itself more clearly, and out-topping all was the Acropolis, with the Parthenon as its diadem.  It was a tiny county the author and his friend were about to enter.  The Attic plain stretched from the sea in an irregular oval from south to north; the entire province contained barely 700 square miles.  Yet Attica “balances in the universe the glory of Imperial Rome.”  Sparta and Athens had kept, even in their ruins, their different characters; those of the former were sad, serious, and solitary; those of the second were laughing, light, and inhabited.  In passing from the ruins of Sparta to those of Athens, Chateaubriand felt that he would have wished to die with Leonidas and to live with Pericles.  Landing at Piraeus was the same as at any other Mediterranean port.  There was the same confusion, the same noisy boatmen, and the same ineffective harbor police.  Once famous for its municipal government, Piraeus was as dirty and unattractive a port as one could find in the Mediterranean.  With Customs formalities taken care of, they boarded an electric train which took them to Athens in 20 minutes.  That electric railway deserved a special word of praise.  It was one of the best things in modern Greece, well equipped and well ran.  [See: “Greece of To-day,” October 1915, and “The Whirlpool of the Balkans,” February 1921, in the National Geographic Magazine.] 

At Athens they found accommodations in a hotel which was once the home of the French Archeological School.  From the balcony they looked down on Constitution Square, the heart of the city, and had a superb view towards the Acropolis and towards Hymettus.  The latter was just changing to a deep purple as the sun set behind Salamis.  Long shadows crept up the valley and into the hills.  A star, probably Venus, trembled over the still waters of the Saronic Gulf.  From the King’s Garden, less than 100 yards away, came the voices of nightingales.  Foregoing an ordered, exact trip via tour, the author and his friend had a leisurely breakfast and, at 10 o’clock, set out on their thrilling voyage of discovery.  Straight from the hotel ran a broad avenue named after the wife of King Otho – Amalia.  They passed the Royal Palace on the left and skirted the King’s Garden.  Besides a distant glimpse of the Acropolis, the first classic monument they saw was the Arch of Hadrian.  He was one of the principal benefactors of Athens.  His gifts included a reservoir that was still in use in 1922, a library, and the Temple to Olympian Zeus.  He also built the new city beyond the old one, and the Arch was the dividing line between the Greek and Roman towns.  They passed through the Arch and, turning to the right, entered the precincts of the Temple of Zeus.  The temple, like the buildings of the Acropolis, was of Pentelic marble.  Two of the columns stood detached like sentinels.  They retraced their steps through the Arch of Hadrian by a narrow street known as the Street of Lysicrates, which was probably the site of the ancient Street of the Tripods.  In the age of Pericles, besides athletic contests during the Olympics, there were contests in Oratory, Poetry, and Music.  The winners were given brass tripods and allowed to erect a pedestal on which to place it, somewhere in the city.  At the end of that little street stood the only surviving monument of that character.

It was but a stone’s throw from the Monument of Lysicrates to the Theater of Dionysus, or Bacchus.  Like most Greek theaters, the tiers of seats were built into the hillside.  Its arrangement was such the sea was seen in the distance by the spectators.  There was, ever present to the eye, an expanse of land and water to heighten the effect produced by the action of the play.  And what names that place called up – Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes – the long roll of the great ones of Greece.  Leaving the theater, they walked slowly toward their goal, and passed the precincts of Aesculapius and various remains, including the charming Odeion built by Herod of Attica, another Roman benefactor.  The iron gates marked the lower precincts of the Acropolis.  Passing through them, they walked up the long incline.  They came to a turning on the right and saw before them the gates, or Propylaea, of the Acropolis.  High up on the right was the little Temple of the Wingless Victory, while a corner of the Parthenon could be seen over the retaining wall.  They drank up the marvelous view, and then, turning, examined the shrine.  Four Ionic columns, each thirteen feet high, supported the architrave.  That diminutive, yet perfect, edifice was demolished by the Turks in order to build a bastion, and was later reconstructed with the fragments of the original building.  Nearby was the spot where the aged King Aegeus took his stand to catch the first beam glittering off the sail of the returning ship in which his son, Theseus had sailed to Crete to kill the Minotaur.  The king’s name was given to the Aegean Sea.  Around the temple in former days was a balustrade adorned on the outer side with reliefs in marble representing Victory in various attitudes.  Several of those had been preserved, notably Victory tying her sandal.  The work dated from the fourth century B. C.  The author thought the work beautiful, and gave a sensual, almost erotic description of how he imaging it being modeled.

It was an effort to leave that spot, but eventually they walked back a few yards through the upper colonnade of the Propylaea and before them stood the Parthenon in all its overwhelming grandeur and severe beauty.  They stepped into the warm sunshine and walked slowly toward the temple.  There were poppies blowing around their feet.  Several artists with easels were attempting to capture the temple’s beauty.  They climbed the steep steps and entered the building.  They ran across an archeological acquaintance, who pointed out things about the building.  In the treasure house, at the west end, had been stored the booty taken at Salamis, which included Xerxes’ throne.  In another spot, various Christian bishops had slept through long centuries.  The Parthenon served as a Christian church longer than as a pagan temple, and from it had gone prayers up to Jove, the Savior, and Allah.  The portico commanded a superb view of the Saronic Gulf.  Greek structures like the Acropolis, Acrocorinth, Sunium, etc., were as beautiful to look at as to look from.  They finally turned and began looking at the Porch of the Maidens – the Caryatids.  It had been necessary to make an iron frame to support the weight of the roof.  A dozen paces from the Erechtheum, were the walls built by Themistocles after the destruction of the first temple by the Persians in 480 B. C.  Looking down from those walls, there laid immediately below them a little hill – the Areopagus, or Hill of Mars.  Physically, the place had little of interest.  There was a short flight of stairs cut into the rock, and at the top were the sites of ancient altars.  The ancient Court of the Areopagus held its sittings on that hill, and it was from there that St. Paul spoke to Athenian skeptics in 54 A. D.  Getting hungry for lunch, the author and his companion retraced their steps at a quickened pace and in a few minutes were back into the 20th century and French cooking.

Their afternoon was given to the Cemetery of the Cerameicus.  The Cerameicus was the name of a suburb lying to the northwest of ancient Athens.  It was inhabited, as its name indicated, by the potters.  It was the custom in ancient days to bury the dead just outside the town gates and by the side of the highroad.  The Cerameicus was really a street of tombs and it was the only ancient cemetery extant in Greece in 1922.  Besides the old memorials still standing in the cemetery, were steles erected to two ambassadors of Coreyra who died in Athens in the fourth century B. C.  From the cemetery in ancient days led a long road to the garden called the Academy, named after the hero, Academus.  There, Plato loved to wander.  There was a little railway linking Athens with a small town to the north called Kephisia.  One of the stations between Athens and Kephisia was a point of departure for the climb to the summit of Mount Pentelikon, from which there was a view of the entire plain, as well as the field of Marathon.  Leaving the railway at that station, their path led them by a gentle incline through olive groves and patches of pine forest to the very foot of the mountain.  They climbed slowly for about a half hour over a causeway to one of the quarries whence in ancient days marble had been taken to build Athens.  As they went higher the plain revealed itself in all its loveliness.  In the far distance the soft outlines of the hills of Euboea were silhouetted against the azure sky.  They heard far-off bells while, in their nostrils was the scent of wild thyme.  Immediately below were other ancient quarries.  The scramble down the hillside was an hour’s labor, and it was another two hours before they reached the Mound of Marathon, raised over the graves of Athenians slain in the battle.  The mound rose 50 feet above the surrounding plain and was crowned by low bushes.  Its slopes were covered with grass, while encircling it was a hedge of cacti.  From the top there was a view of the entire plain.

The route covered by the Runner at Marathon laid between Mounts Pentelikon and Hymettus, and was about 24 miles long.  In 1906, the same distance was covered by the runners in the Olympics.  The ancient messenger probably ended his run at the Marketplace.  In 1922, a magnificent stadium stood on that site.  As with other Greek stadia and theaters, the old Athens stadium was made by cutting into the hillside.  While it involved removing a large quantity of dirt, it solved the problem of walls and the acoustics were extraordinary.  The modern stadium was built with a donation from a wealth Greek of Alexandria.  It was a re-sheathing of the old structure.  The marble covering was from the same veins as those used for the classic monuments.  The stadium was in the form of an ellipse.  Near the center, on the right, were seats for members of the royal family, government authorities, and foreign representatives.  At the end of the ellipse were places for the judges.  Nearby were set up two ancient Hermae found in excavating.  About 60,000 people could be accommodated in comfort.  There was, however, only one exit – through the open portion of the ellipse.  The author thought it less practical but more aesthetic.  In the reign of Hadrian, wild-beasts hunts took place.  It was through a tunnel opposite the entrance the animals were introduced.  In 1906, the Olympic athletes made use of the tunnel.  Greece was a country made for picnics; it was always sunny.  One of the most delightful of many trips out of Athens was to the Fortress of Phyle.  It lied hidden away in the Parnes Range, and guarded the route to Thebes.  There were other routes into the Boeotian Plain, but that via Phyle was of great importance.  The fortress frowned on Attic and could only be held for long by a garrison that commanded the mountain district to the north.  Near the fort was the spring from which the garrison drew its water.

Two hours beyond Phyle was one of the numerous caves dedicated to Pan.  The path was over a rocky slope between high cliffs and through a patch of pine forest to a deep gorge.  A difficult climb down and a little way up the other side was the mouth of the grotto.  The way home was by a solitary, difficult road, which led to a picturesque monastery, called “Our Lady of the Defiles.”  From the terrace of the monastery was a fine view down the gorge.  Greek monasteries were true hospices and were required by law to entertain the traveler.  The Greek monk seemed a gentle and kindly type.  The coffee at the monastery was poor and the bread incredibly bad, but the mastika, a Greek liqueur, was always of the very best quality.  On leaving the monastery, the abbot and two of his lay brothers walked with them to the beginning of the road, which fell sharply to the valley.  They reached the village of Khasia, from which their ascent had begun, just as twilight stole over the hill and valley.  Across the plain the lights of Kephisia began to twinkle.  About fourteen miles from Athens lied the city of Eleusis, on the bay of the same name. Directly facing it, across the waters, was the island of Salamis.  From Athens to Eleusis led a broad road, the “Sacred Way.”  The route from Athens was across a dusty plain, inadequately watered by the Cephissus, a part of which was outlined by olive groves.  In ancient days, philosophers walked through them, in 1922 they were the haunts of carefree children and young lovers.  Leaving the stream and the olive groves, the road began to rises gently; they were passing through the lower ranges of the Parnes.  A few minutes brought them to the 12th century convent of Daphne, built on the site of a shrine dedicated to Apollo.  Behind the convent and away from the road was a forest of pine and fir where they stopped for lunch.

The convent of Daphne was in the very heart of the Sacred Way.  Near the end of the pass were the ruins of a temple of Aphrodite, with niches for offerings.  As they passed, they noticed that in two of the niches, flowers had been placed.  That was sacred soil they were treading; the path they pressed had known the footprints of the Three Hundred marching toward their rendezvous with Death at Thermopylae.  From the earliest times, that road was the natural route to the Peloponnesus, leading over the isthmus and on to Corinth and beyond.  A turn in the road brought the bay into view.  Coming to the waters edge, they stopped and dipped their hands into the blue.  Resuming their march, they went slowly on, skirting the bay all the way to town.  At Eleusis took place the solemn worship of the Goddess Demeter, twice a year, in February and September.  They approached the precincts through the Propylaea, of which nothing stood in 1922, save a few columns.  The fragments strewn about were doubtlessly from Hadrian’s Gateway.  Once past those portals, one gained an idea of the grandeur of the original structure.  Before and above them was the emplacement of the great Temple of Mysteries.  Through its portico, one reached the precincts of the temple proper, cut into the solid rock of the Acropolis.  If one wanted to visit the battlefield of Thermopylae, they could travel for days on bad roads and suffer the discomforts of Greek inns, or they could go by rail.  The author thought that having a railway at Thermopylae was too much of a clash of past and present.  The railway led toward the northwest, traversing Attica plain and the Plain of Boeotia and boldly scaling the rocky fastnesses of Phocis and Doris.  The line continued to Lamia.  Thermopylae was named for the hot springs which rose at the foot of the mountain and flowed across the plain to the sea.  The plain in 1922 was three miles wide in places; when the pass was held by Leonidas and his band it was less than 200 feet wide – a wall of rock on one side, the sea on the other.

In the author’s opinion, the most beautiful place in all of Greece was the Temple of Poseidon at Sunium.  That beautiful patch on the face of Nature lied at the extreme southernmost point of the peninsula.  It was a rugged headland rising 200 feet above the sea.  Apparently, that spot was sacred from earliest times.  The remains crowning the steep were from the temple built toward the end of the fifth century B. C.  Thirteen massive marble columns were still standing.  They looked out over the blue waters toward the Cyclades.  In the dimmest northeast distance, Euboea sprawled its length, with Andros and Tenos beside.  It was a fair, cool clear day and the island of Melos was dimly visible, lying almost due south.  They visited some little gardens, planted in a series of irregular terraces sloping down to the sea.  There was a bridle and footpath from Sunium to Athens, skirting the coast, necessitating a night in the open.  Along that riviera were bays and inlets, each beautiful in its own way.  About halfway to Athens, near Vari, was a cave dedicated to Pan and the Nymphs.  Between Vari and Athens were many tumuli, thought to be the tombs of early kings.  Within plain view of Athens and crowning a headland was a little chapel dedicated to St. Cosmos.  It was a favorite picnic spot for Athenians.  From Athens to Corinth was an easy three-hour trip by motor.  The road followed the Sacred Way to Eleusis, and from that point the sea was constantly in view.  After leaving Eleusis, the principal city was Megara.  The Megarian women had the reputation of being very beautiful, and the author agreed.  Toward Megara there were superb views of the sea and the mountains of the Peloponnesus.  They climbed slowly and finally passed near a wall of whitish rock.  The road there was supported by buttresses dating from classic times.  A few miles before reaching Corinth, the road crossed the Isthmian Canal.  That was excavated between 1881 and 1893 and linked the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf.  It shortened the journey from the Adriatic to Piraeus by more than 200 miles.

A short distance from the eastern end of the canal was Cenchreae, which was in classic times the Saronic port of Corinth.  Not far from the bridge were the ruins of a tramway on which in ancient times, small craft were dragged across the isthmus.  The Isthmian games, held biennially, took place there and were especially attended by the Athenians.  Dominating the landscape for miles stood the symmetrically shaped mountain known as Acrocorinth, crowned by medieval battlements.  From the earliest days, that bold summit, which rose 2,000 feet above the plain, had been a sacred and important spot.  There was a temple of Venus, of which a few fragments remained in 1922.  The view from the heights was one of the finest in Greece.  In the spring and autumn, the outlook over the fertile plain was a joy to behold.  From Piraeus to Itea, the port of Delphi, small Greek steamers plied daily, making the voyage in about eight hours.  It was only a few miles from the port to the site of the temple.  They left Piraeus early on a May morning.  The course laid between Salamis and Aegina, straight to the mouth of the Corinth Canal.  On the left laid a group of islands, the Pelops of the ancients, while beyond were the mountains of Argolis.  On the right was the coast.  On arriving at the mouth of the canal, they were able to enter almost immediately.  The four miles were traversed in about twenty minutes.  Once in the Corinthian Gulf, the little vessel plunged ahead.  The day went as such days went, every few minutes being marked by some new beauty or some object of interest.  The sun was sinking beyond the hills when their craft turned its head into the bay of Itea.  They landed in a small boat and repaired to one of the numerous coffee shops which fronted the shore.  They were soon able to complete their bargain for a carriage, and, throwing in their baggage, they started for the home of the Oracle.  They rode in the gathering gloom though a succession of olive gardens and vineyards which covered the entire plain.

At the end of an hour, the road began to ascend sharply, and it was suggested that they take a short cut up the hill and arrive ahead of the carriage.  With a Greek boy as guide, they started off.  It was now black night.  As they approached the crest of one of the foothills, they heard music coming from a building nearby.  When the author went to look, he saw about twenty men dancing, hands clasped in a long line.  Leaving the dancers and keeping along the dusty road, they soon arrived at the Hotel of Pythian Apollo.  Unlike most hotels outside Athens, it was clean, neat, and simple, with an excellent cook.  They were off to bed shortly after dinner, as their exploration was to begin at an early hour.  Delphi, was on the steep southern slopes of Mount Parnassus.  The general view suggested the auditorium of a gigantic theater.  The rock barrier to the north had been cleft by some convulsion of nature, and through that opening flowed the waters of the Castalian spring.  At a certain point in the side of the hill was an opening in the ground, from which intoxicating vapors arose.  A temple was built around that opening.  Immediately over it was a golden tripod, on which, in ancient times, sat a prophetic virgin.  The treasures contained in the temple must have been immense.  The remains seen in 1922 were those of the structure erected in the fourth century B. C.  Earthquakes, floods, and the hand of man had done their worst, until there was little left what must have been a beautiful structure.  The theater at Delphi was still in an excellent state of preservation.  They climbed still higher in the warm sunshine, up to the stadium.  They had brought their lunch and sat down on the green carpet to eat their meal.  The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering at random and alone over the hillside.  Night fell as they gathered once more around the table.  After dinner, they visited the Castalia spring, and climbed again to the temple and to the theater.  It was there that their tour ended.



Embedded within the first article, and counted among its illustrations, are eight full-page monochromatic photo-engravings with the same internal heading as the article: “The Glory That Was Greece.”  These engravings, formerly called photogravures, use acid etched metal plates to transfer special ink onto a special paper.  This set’s ink has an ever-so-slight tinge of brown, while the paper seems to age differently from the other pages.  This batch of engravings appear on pages 583 through 590.

A list of engraving captions is as follows:

  • “The Western Portico of the Parthenon”
  • “The View of the Acropolis from the Northwest”
  • “A Thessalian Peasant Wagon at the Foot of Mount Olympus”
  • “A View Toward the Stage in the Temple of Dionysus: Athens”
  • “On the Waters of the Gulf of Argostoli”
  • “The Ruins of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi”
  • “A Greek Monk Before the Convent of St. George: Pheneos”
  • “The Corinth Canal “A Sword-cut in the Brown Earth Shortening the Journey from the Adriatic to Piraeus by 200 Miles”



The second article in this month’s issue is entitled “Sailing the Seven Sea in the Interest of Science,” and was written by J. P. Ault, Commander of the “Carnegie.”  The article has an internal subheading which reads “Adventures Through 157,000 Miles of Storm and Calm, from Arctic to Antarctic and Around the World, in the Non-geomagnetic Yacht “Carnegie”.”  The article lists “48 Illustrations” on the cover of which thirty-nine are black-and-white photographs.  Fifteen of those photos are full-page in size.  In addition to the photographs, the article contains a batch of eight full-page engravings to be discussed later.  The last illustration embedded within the article is a sketch map of the routes of the “Carnegie” during three voyages on page 634.

Sketch Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

The primary mission of the Carnegie since 1909 was to increase knowledge of the earth’s magnetic field.  A great many interesting places had been visited during the three cruises of the Galilee, 1905 to 1908, covering 73,508 statute miles.  The six cruises of the Carnegie, 1909 to 1921, covered 291,595 statute miles.  This article was concerned only with the Carnegie cruises III, IV, and VI, which are shown on the sketch map.  A brief outline of the voyages was as follows:  Cruise III covered 11,009 miles.  It began and ended at New York in 1914, with calls made at Hammerfest, Norway, and Reykjavik, Iceland.  Cruise IV covered 73,009 miles.  It began at New York in March 1915 and ended at Buenos Aires, Argentina in April 1917.  The route was mainly in the Pacific and included a circumnavigation of the globe in sub-Antarctic regions.  Cruise VI covered 73,750 miles.  It began in Washington D. C. in October 1919 and ended at the same place in November 1921.  It circumnavigated the world by way of the Atlantic Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, up through the India Ocean, and, after spending a year in the Pacific Ocean, home through the Panama Canal.  During those voyages, the crew’s stay at any one place rarely exceeded three or four weeks.  The author stated his intention to just touch on the better-known port of calls on those trips and to go into more detail concerning those places about which very little had been written.

Hammerfest, Norway, was the first port reached after leaving New York in June, 1914.  The 4,152 miles between those two ports were covered in 24 days.  Thanks to the Gulf Stream, they averaged 170 miles per day, the highest speed ever reached by the Carnegie.  They were in latitudes of continuous daylight from June 24 to August 13.  When they arrived off the entrance to Soro Sund, a heavy gale prevented them from entering the fjord.  After being “hove to” for 24 hours, they at last anchored off Hammerfest at 1 o’clock in the morning of July 3.  Being a sailing vessel, they could not specify the hour of their arrival.  They were ready for sleep, but the residents were up and ready to greet them, and so their sleep was postponed.  The five-hour trip up the fjord to Hammerfest, amid snow-capped mountains, showed the scenic beauty for which Norway was famous.  They saw the midnight sun as it swung around the northern horizon, just skimming the mountain tops.  Many vessels of all sizes were busy at fishing, the chief industry of Hammerfest.  Warehouses were full of dried fish awaiting shipment, and many vessels were in the harbor loading fish for Russian ports.  The hundred or more ships of the sealing fleet had returned from their season’s work in the north and were tied up in the harbor awaiting the return of another season.  Hammerfest, at about 72 degrees north latitude, was the most northerly city in Europe.  The winters were so long and cold that there was very little vegetation.  A small group of birch trees in the valley behind the town were the only trees for miles around.  The houses were small frame buildings, often thatched with turf.  Most of them had many indoor plants and flowers.  At Hammerfest, they enjoyed a Finnish bath.  A stone furnace in the room was heated and water splashed on it creating a steam bath.  One could adjust the temperature by sitting on higher or lower shelves, the higher the hotter.  After the steam, one was scoured and scrubbed, then showered with increasingly cold water.

Sailing from Hammerfest on July 25, they little dreamed of the war clouds gathering over Europe.  They intended to sail eastward into the Kara Sea, beyond Novaya Zemlya, but they were headed off by a northeast wind.  As time was short, they decided to push north as far as possible, west of Spitsbergen.  On July 30, they were becalmed in sight of Bear Island, and the next day they sighted their first ice.  They were forced to tack back to the south for 10 miles to avoid the floe.  They headed north again with hopes of reaching 80 degrees north, but only came withing sight of it, just off Danes Island, before being forced to retreat by a storm.  They came within 600 miles of the North Pole.  Against the wind, and using their auxiliary engine, they tacked back and forth 12 times off the coast of Spitsbergen.  During the first 24 hours of the storm, they were only able to make it 30 miles southward.  The gale final surrendered and the winds shifted westward.  They proceeded to Iceland.  At Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, the pilot met them with their first news of the war – all of Europe in turmoil and the Germans within a few miles of Paris.  The southern shores of the island were bathed in the warm waters of the North Atlantic Drift (the Gulf Stream), while the northern shores were infested with icebergs borne by the cold waters of the Greenland Current.  The meeting of those two extremes caused continuous storms and gales.  The harbor of Reykjavik was noted for unusual local magnetic disturbances.  A compass could not be relied upon.  Of the 90,000 people of Iceland, 12,000 lived in Reykjavik.  Farming and fishing were the chief industries.  Forty-seven thousand Shetland ponies were raised, mostly for export, and the sheep numbered about 900,000. Since December 1, 1918, Iceland had been recognized as an independent state.  The island is 310 miles long and 190 miles wide, with an area of 40,000 square miles.  Due to the horrible weather, they were glad to sail back to New York.

They started cruise IV from New York in a blizzard, March 6, 1915.  Within one week they were in the tropics.  Around Cape Hatteras, they lost the cook when he jumped overboard in a gale.  They passed through the Panama Canal in early April, 1915, just before a landslide stopped all traffic for several months.  The North Pacific was teeming with barnacles, velella, Flying Fish, and bonito.  They caught bonito, or Spanish mackerel, for a change of pace, foodwise.  They reached the Aleutian Islands.  The Bogoslof Islands, north of Unalaska, were sighted at midnight shortly before they reached Dutch Harbor.  The roundabout route to Lyttelton, New Zealand, extended up through the Bering Sea, past the Pribilof Islands, and south through the pass west of Attu Island.  During the 89 days of that trip, all kinds of wind and weather were experienced, and for the first 75 days not a sail was seen.  Off Wake Island, and under bare poles, they were driven through a hurricane for 12 hours at 11 miles.  After the storm, they avoided being wrecked on Wake.  They sauntered on down the latitudes toward New Zealand, diving through the Marshall Islands, skirting the Solomon Group, and dodging the Indispensable Reefs.  Lyttelton, the seaport of Christchurch, was situated at the gateway to the Antarctic.  It was the last port of call for nearly all expeditions which had plunged into the Antarctic through the Ross Sea.  Nestled amid the Port Hills, it was one of the most picturesque harbors in the world.  They found the people thoughtful and hospitable, even though nearly every family had a son or daughter at the war front.  There they made final preparations for the most strenuous trip the Carnegie had ever undertaken, a circumnavigation of the globe in the sub-Antarctic regions in one season, a feat never before attempted.  Back in New York, a belt of brass plates had been placed on the vessel’s hull at the water line for protection from ice floes.  At Lyttelton additional precautions were made.

With some difficulty, a crew was obtained which was not afraid to venture into the unknown on a voyage through the cold, stormy, and iceberg infested waters of the Southern Ocean.  Leaving Lyttelton on December 6, 1915, they sighted the Antipodes three days later, and in two weeks they had met their first iceberg at 60 degrees 80 minutes south latitude.  After leaving the “roaring forties,” they had crossed the “furious fifties” and were in the “ice-clad sixties.”  Towering ice island loomed up on every side out of the mist, fog, or driving snow.  Those huge bergs were just north of the close ice pack encountered by Ross in 1842.  More than 30 icebergs were sighted on the first day.  Their heaviest snowfall recorded was 28.26 inches.  For more than eight days they were sailing almost due east among the icebergs.  They reached the site of Dougherty Island on December 25, but nothing was visible for 40 miles.  It seemed to be another lost island of the Pacific.  Off Cape Horn they had the finest weather of the entire trip.  A few days later they found themselves amid 20 large icebergs, an outpost off the northwest point of South Georgia.  As the sailed along the north coast of South Georgia, the weather cleared and they had a magnificent view of snow peaks, rugged, cold, hard mountains, with immense glaciers.  [See: “South Georgia, an Outpost of the Antarctic,” April 1922, The Geographic.]  They remained in King Edward Cove only two days to take on fresh water and provisions.  The six whaling stations on the island employed more than 1,000 men and produced 240,000 barrels of whale oil annually.  A monthly steamer to Buenos Aires connected them to the outside world.  After the left King Edward Cove and plunged into the stormy seas of the Southern Ocean, the icebergs became larger and more numerous.  They passed along the north coast of Lindsay Island, about three miles from shore.

The only sign of life on that four-month trip, except for South Georgia, was the naked body of a dead man floating in the open sea between Heard and Kerguelen Islands.  The stormiest period of the trip occurred south of the Great Australian Bight.  The storm raged; then, after a lull the storm seemed to redouble in fury.  Finally, the anxiously watched barometer began to rise and the wind abated.  Lyttelton was reached on April 1, 1916, after 118 days at sea for a total distance of 17,084 miles, giving an average of 145 miles per day.  Of that time, they had gales on 52 days, half of them reached hurricane force.  They had precipitation of some sort on 100 out of the 118 days. Over 135 icebergs were sighted.  The aurora australis, or south polar lights, were seen on 14 different occasions, some being unusually brilliant.  Despite fog and storm, the sun or a star was seen every day, and the magnetic declination was observed on every day except one.  Below the western part of Australia at about 60 degrees south latitude, they found the magnetic declination to be 12 to 16 degrees in error, the largest difference to be found in any of the Carnegie’s work.  The wandering albatross was their daily companion throughout the southern cruise.  Soaring above the vessel, at times skimming the waters, at others rising high above the masts, he never flapped his pinions.  Many were caught with a baited triangle of metal trailed astern at the end of a long rope.  Their hooked beak caught on the corner of the triangle, and they would be hauled up uninjured.  Once aboard, they were allowed to walk about the deck freely, as they could not rise without a long run.  The largest measured 17 feet from tip to tip of the wing.  Other birds seen were the molly-mawk, the sooty albatross, the Cape pigeon, the snowy petrel, the giant petrel, the skua gull, and the penguin.

Their stay at the next port, Pago Pago, American Samoa, was very short and featured an almost continuous entertaining by the American navel officers and their families stationed there.  The harbor, located in the crater of an extinct volcano, was entirely surrounded by mountains, with slopes richly covered by palms and tropical verdure.  The town containing the naval station was built upon a narrow strip of land on the shore of the harbor.  Heavy growths of bananas and coconut palms rose on the slopes beyond.  The Samoans were the healthiest of all the Polynesians, and were not being rapidly depleted by the ailments of civilization.  The government handled the copra crop for the natives, thus insuring them a fair profit for their labor.  The author’s party attended the wedding of a Samoan princess.  An elaborate feast of roast pig, chicken, taro, breadfruit, sugar cane, and coconut was spread before the guests.  The next port, Guam, used to be the mythical port for which vessels would clear when sailing under sealed orders with destination unknown.  Far from being an island of mystery, Guam was a very important cable and naval station belonging to the U. S. since 1898.  [See: “Our Smallest Possession – Guam”, May 1905, The Geographic.]  But typhoon season was beginning, and they sailed on again for San Francisco.  A Glimpse of dear home was very welcome, but after a month’s stay, the Carnegie was again on her way November 1, 1916, enroute for Easter Island.

Easter Island, or Rapanui, was located in the eastern South Pacific, 1,400 miles east of Pitcairn and 2,000 miles west of Chile. About 50 square miles in size, it was a heap of stones and lava.  It had no harbor, no trees except for a few fig trees, and no running water.  Cisterns, wells, and a few springs on the beach, uncovered at low tide, furnished the water supply. Some of its volcanic peaks reached 1,800 feet.  The climate was moist and temperate, the southeast trade winds blowing for a major part of the year.  Bananas, sugar cane, cotton, tobacco, sweet potatoes, melons, pumpkins, pineapples, corn, and tomatoes were grown in small quantities.  More than three-fourths of the island was pasturage, the rest being covered with broken lava.  The 200 natives were a mixed race, being of Polynesian descent, but much mixed with white whalers and traders.  The Chilean Governor, and old Frenchman, and a Greek sailor, who was manager of the ranch, were the only white people on the island.  The livestock consisted of 4,000 cattle, 8,000 sheep, and 400 horses.  There were no exports, except for hides; every five years selected animals were killed for their hides and the meat was thrown away.  The island belonged to Chile but communications with the mainland was very irregular, a vessel being sent once a year.  When they arrived, no ship had reached the island from Chile in more than a year and a half, and stocks were low.  Clothing of any kind and soap were at a high premium.  Women even offered British and American gold for soap.  Since chickens were plentiful but small, an exchange rate of two chickens for one cake was agreed upon.  They built a coop on the quarterdeck and had fried chicken for several weeks after leaving the island.  Small images of the huge statues and other curios were traded for any article of clothing which they could spare.  The islanders took great care of their boats, using them for fishing and catching porpoises for the oil used in their lamps.

A feature of the New Year’s celebration was a boat race.  The entry of the Greek sailor won.  He attributed his win to having greased the bottom of his boat.  There was also a horse race.  Several trips by horseback were made to the eastern end of the island, a distance of 12 miles, to see the huge statues scattered over the plain and up the slope of the image mountain, Rano Raraku.  Those huge statues, staring at them out of unseeing eyes, with somber, austere expressions and unsmiling lips, seemed almost human.  [See: “The Mystery of Easter Island,” December 1921, The Geographic.]  Digging into the graves at the foot of a large image platform near Rano Raraku, the found numerous skulls with geometric designs carved on the foreheads, indicating that they were chiefs.  In another part of the island were the remains of stone houses or caves built into the hillside.  The Governor detailed for them the tradition of the bird cult of those ancient people.  Every spring, the men who wished to rule the tribe held a race.  They swam about a half-mile from the southwest point of the main island to a small island, known as Motu Iti, or Needle Rock, about 100 feet high, with very steep sides.  The one who swam across, climbed to the top, secured an egg, and returned safely ahead of the rest, was chosen chief for the ensuing year.  Rats and a species of quail or grouse were numerous on the island.  The quail were usually hunted with dogs, who located them in the grass, and the bird killed by stoning.  The author’s party had quail for their Christmas dinner.  From Easter Island, the Carnegie proceeded around Cape Horn once more and reached Buenos Aires on March 2, 1917.  Since they had left the U. S. before the election, they did not find out about Wilson’s reelection until they reached Buenos Aires.  Due to the U. S. entry into the war, they remained until December, and sailed home by going around Cape Horn, up the Pacific and through the Panama Canal.  They reached Washington, D. C. in June 1918.

Preparations for Cruise VI were begun in 1919.  In October the vessel sailed for Dakar, Senegal, French West Africa.  Storms and rain squalls attended them all the way across the North Atlantic to the Azores.  They had better weather after leaving the Azores.  Whales were often seen and at times would sport and play about the bow of the vessel.  When more than 120 miles from the African coast, they met a harmattan, or sandstorm.  The hot easterly winds blowing across the Sahara Desert carried fine particles of red sand, filling the air, and covering everything with fine red dust.  Under those circumstances, navigation was difficult.  They sailed through the sandstorm for four days, yet picked up soundings off Cape Verde precisely as expected.  Due to fog, they “hove to” for a day.  The weather cleared and they made port.  Bubonic plague was present in Dakar; twelve deaths occurred daily among the native population.  They did not remain long enough to carry out any shore work.  The chief export of Dakar was the groundnut, or small peanut.  Thousands of tons were stacked up awaiting shipment to France.  After taking on fresh water and supplies, the Carnegie sailed away for Buenos Aires after a stay of four days.  Skirting the coast of Liberia, they passed within a mile of Cape Palmas.  Sailing on eastward past the Gold Coast, they headed south off the Bight of Benin, across the Gulf of Guinea, to pick up the southeast trade wind, after which they had a direct run for Buenos Aires.  For two nights before entering the Rio de la Plata, they were visited by heavy rainstorms from the southwest.  After a few hours the storm passed to the eastward, and the western sky and horizon cleared.  Buenos Aires was the Paris of South America, and at carnival time it was a riot of life, color, and gayety.  They did not stay long in the Argentine capital, but hurried on to some of the more inaccessible places.

Enroute for St. Helena, the saw some icebergs and passed near Gough Island, lonely and uninhabited, but a breeding place for the wandering albatross.  As they approached St. Helena, it seemed a barren, unattractive pile of lofty mountains, divided by deep valleys.  The coastline was guarded by cliffs 600 to 1,200 feet high.  They could not see the beautiful woodlands and green meadows of the upper plateau.  The harbor at Jamestown was an open roadstead facing north, and the town was picturesquely located in the narrow valley that made its way down to the sea between huge overhanging rocks.  No cars were allowed on St. Helena, so they took a horse carriages and wended their way up the winding road leading to Longwood Plain.  In the center of that plain, some 1,800 feet above sea level, was Longwood House, where Napoleon lived and died.  It was a rambling frame structure of about 35 rooms.  It had no furniture save for a bust of Napoleon mounted on a pedestal in the front room to mark the spot where he died.  He was laid to rest in a beautiful shady glen, near a cool spring, where he had spent many leisure hours.  The grave was still tended, but his body had remained there only for 20 years before being removed to France.  They climbed out of the valley and reached the crest of the ridge.  The view of the sea and the extinct volcano was a picture of desolate grandeur.  The chief industries of the island were lace-making and the production of hemp.  The people were formerly poverty-stricken.  That lead to the lace-making, men, women, and children being taught the industry.  St Helena’s lace had a splendid reputation for pattern and quality.

Their next port of call was Cape Town, nestled in the shadow of Table Mountain, towering to a height of 3,600 feet and flanked on either side by two conical peaks.  They climbed the winding road behind the city to the mountain top to view the panorama, with the harbor and crescent shaped bay.  Motoring to the Cape of Good Hope, they passed through fertile valleys, with fruit trees and immense vineyards.  Standing on the high bluff of the cape, they looked westward over the South Atlantic, southward over the Southern Ocean, and eastward toward the Indian Ocean.  The famous summer resort and bathing beach at Muizenberg was deserted, being the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere.  As English and Dutch were equal in number, all legal documents and signage were in both languages.  They motored to Stellenbosch, the original settlement of the earliest European colonists, French Huguenots.  No rain had fallen for several months, and a drought was feared, otherwise, the climate reminded them of Southern California.  They left South Africa and sailed to Ceylon.  Their first impression of Colombo, chief seaport of Ceylon, was that India was surely sweltering in humanity.  There, the manner of living had not changed for centuries and perhaps would remain the same for centuries to come.  Their glimpse at the interior of Ceylon at Kandy, with its Temple of the Tooth, its famous Peradeniya Gardens, and its historical places of mystic origin, was all too brief.  Much to their regret, they could not visit the ancient capital of Anuradhapura.  They were able to visit Galle, a trade center on the southwest point of Ceylon, and Kalutara, where they witnessed a religious procession.  The Europeans were fortunate to have a cool mountain resort at Nuwara Eliya where they found relief from the heat of the coast.

Their visit to Western Australia reminded them of the western U. S. in the early days.  That was new country, with settlements begun in 1885, with the discovery of gold.  Agriculture was not begun to any extent until 1903 and 1904.  The history of Australia resembled that of the U. S. – settled first in the east, the west, reached only by ship, was little known until the discovery of gold caused a rush of settlers and prompted the building of a transcontinental railroad.  They were impressed by the beauty and profusion of the wild flowers.  The interior of Australia contained no mountain ranges of any size, and had no watershed.  Until water could be supplied, that region would remain unproductive.  The Kalgoorlie gold mines, two cities with thousands of people, were supplied with water from the coast, at Perth, through steel pipes, over a distance of 350 miles.  They visited the magnetic observatory at Watheroo, in the midst of a sandy plain, where the emu, the kangaroo, and the wallaby roamed at will.  They tried hunting kangaroo, but found them too swift.  They visited the hardwood lumber industry in the huge gum and jarrah forests along the coast, and saw some of the fruit growing and farming regions.  The rainfall, mostly in winter, was 40 inches along the coast and 10 inches in the interior.  On leaving that democratic country, impressed with the work done and amazed at what had not been touched, they felt that Australia was destined to become one of the great countries of the world.  [See: “Lonely Australia, the Unique Continent,” December 1916, The Geographic.]

Cape Leeuwin maintained its reputation of being a stormy and dangerous region.  For twelve hours, they skirted that circular coast to close for comfort, in a heavy southwest gale.  Thirty minutes after clearing the rocks off the cape, the gale died out to a calm.  They passed over the reported position of the Royal Company Islands, another group of lost islands of the sea, but saw nothing.  Calling at New Zealand before beginning their year’s work in the Pacific Ocean, they enjoyed meeting again their friends in Lyttelton and in Christchurch.  Proceeding up through the Pacific, they stopped for a few days at Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands, where they spent Christmas and New Year’s, 1920-1921.  Proceeding northward, they decided to call at San Francisco for repairs, as the vessel was leaking considerably.  The route passed near Fanning Island, where they stopped for a few hours and sent cablegrams.  The coconut, or robber crab, was known locally as the Fanning Island flea, with a spread of 24 inches between claw tips and a body 12 inches long.  It climbed the trees to sever the stems, allowing the nut to fall, then descended the tree and tore the husk from the nut, broke the shell, and ate the meat.  Sailing northward, they passed within half a mile of Lavsan Island, in the western Hawaiian group.  By careful observation, they found it to be four miles north of its assumed position.  There route swung up into the North Pacific before turning eastward for San Francisco, and, as it was wintertime, they found stormy weather awaiting them.  The vessel was leaking badly now. While about 300 mile off San Francisco, a storm had winds reached hurricane force for about five minutes.  The ship trembled and the small sails were torn to ribbons.

After repairs were made in San Francisco, they were on their way to the Hawaiian Islands, where they spent some time.  [Note: An entire issue of The Geographic, with many illustrations in color, would be devoted to the Hawaiian Islands in the relative future.]  They found a visit to an out-of-the-way coral atoll interesting.  It was a circular strip of white sand and coral about a quarter-mile wide, ten feet high, and fringed with palm trees, surrounding a lagoon of quiet water.  They made for an opening in the lagoon.  They found the natives living in their thatched huts beneath the fronds of the coconut palms as they murmured in the warm tropic trade wind.  It seemed a paradise, a place of calm away from the rush of civilization.  Such a place was Penrhyn Island (Tongareva), one of the northern islands in the Cook Group.  The island was 12 miles long by 7 miles wide, yet the narrow strip of land surrounding the lagoon supported 400 natives and 8 white men.  Going ashore for lunch, they were treated to fresh eel, fresh roast pork, string beans, fresh shrimp salad, and Rarotonga oranges.  They wandered around the village and along the shore, saw a little church, and visited a unique graveyard, with all the graves whitewashed to keep away evil spirits.  Three days later, they called at Manahiki Island, less than 400 miles from Penrhyn.  The people there were quite different, living in white buildings with red roofs amid the coconut palm groves.  The resident agent came out to meet them in a small boat.  After lunch, they went ashore.  The trading schooner had not paid a visit for more than six months, and the natives were short of food.  They wanted flour most of all.  They gave them several large tins of biscuits and a good supply of tinned meat and some tins of milk.  Their supple of tobacco was exhausted, so brisk trading went on.  The natives arranged a dance for them.  Each dancer stood alone, and the evolutions depended largely upon the suppleness of ankle, knee, and hip.  The chief industry was copra from coconuts.

They arrived at Apia, Western Samoa, late June, after stopping for mail and supplies at Pago Pago.  They were entertained in Robert Lewis Stevenson’s old home at Vailima, which was, at the time, the Governor’s residence.  They went swimming by moonlight in the artificial pool which Stevenson had built.  A gate had been built in the retaining dam, so that the pool could be filled or emptied at will.  Near the pool was a mountain, the crest overlooking the town, harbor, and coast.  They visited the “jumping rock” and joined the native girls in their running leap into a deep pool, 40 feet below, at the foot of a waterfall.  They wandered out over the coral and watched the natives fishing.  It was now time to sail to Panama, and then on home to Washington.  On the way, I was necessary to stop at Rarotonga for one day, to leave their doctor at the hospital to recover from a seriously infected arm.  On the voyage through the stormy southern latitudes, the rudder stock was splintered during a heavy gale, and had to be jury-rigged.  Coming up through the southeast trades toward Panama, they saw numerous albatross and other seabirds, and a variety of sea-life.  After passing through the Panama Canal, dodging a hurricane off the West Indies, and weathering a storm off Cape Hatteras, they sighted the light at Cape Henry early one morning in November and were soon at home, after an absence of 25 months.  The purposes of those expeditions could not have been accomplished without the perseverance in the face of difficulties and hardships, and the spirit of cooperation shown by the various parties.  They had seen many interesting places and met many strange people, yet the sight of home and loved ones was a welcomed end to their travels.  A large amount of magnetic, atmospheric-electric, meteorological, and geographic data was obtained.  Observations were made daily, no matter weather.  Everyone was busy from morning until nightfall.  All data was sent to Washington and shared freely.



As mentioned above, the second article contains a set of eight full-page, monochromatic photo-engravings embedded within it, from page 655 through 662.  These engravings have the internal title “Life in the Antarctic.”  The ink used in these engravings has a slight greenish hue.

A list of the photogravures’ caption titles is as follows:

  • “A Grotto in an Iceberg”
  • “Seals Basking on Pancake Ice”
  • “The Midnight Sun in South Polar Seas”
  • “A Skua Gull Duet”
  • “Albatross Foraging at the Stern of a Ship”
  • “A Tabular Berg Newly “Calved” Away from the Great Ice Barrier”
  • “Killer Whales Rising to the Surface for Air”
  • ““Bless You, My Children”: a Penguin and Her Chicks”



The third article in this month’s issue is entitled “The Societies New Map of the World” and has no byline.  This half-page editorial contains no illustrations.  It is an introduction to, and description of, the “Special Map Supplement – The World (Size 42x28)” documented on the cover and included with this issue.

Map Supplement courtesy of Philip Riviere

This map was the third in a series of colorful wall maps issued as supplements with The Geographic during 1922 and the seventh since February 1921, representing an expenditure of more than $200,000.  The World Map was the product of several years of research and labor.  It was drawn on a specially devised projection, which reduced distortions of size and shape, the most serious defects in the familiar Mercator projection.  Another advantage was the presentation of the Pacific Ocean in its entirety.  That presented a clearer picture of the mandates and island possessions of the South Pacific.  Mandates in Africa were similarly indicated.  In South America, areas in dispute were indicated by alternate colors of the countries affected.  The inset maps of the Polar Regions, in the upper corners of the map, was of value to readers interested in Arctic and Antarctic explorations, while the charts showing population density, wind direction, ocean currents, and vegetation proved useful for ready reference.  The Society’s next supplement would be a map of the United States, of a convenient size, to be included with an upcoming issue.  Additional copies of the Map of the World could be obtained from the headquarters of The Society in Washington – paper, $1.00; on map linen, $1.50.



Tom Wilson

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I love epic NGM articles like "The Glory that was Greece". Issues like this are the highlight(s) of this era of National Geographic reporting and coverage.

Also, that was an awesome World Map --for it's time-- back in 1922. One of my favorite NGM map supplements.



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