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    New Meaning to ‘Freeze-Dried’: Russian Explorers Find 117 Year Old Barrel of Coffee in Arctic Stash

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    The coffee barrel was said to have been among the supplies delivered to the Franz Josef Land archipelago in the early 20th century as part of a polar expedition led by American polar explorer Evelyn Briggs Baldwin and businessman William Zeigler.

    Researchers from the Russian Geographical Society have discovered a well-preserved barrel of coffee beans at a long-abandoned Arctic base camp.

    Leonid Kruglov, a traveler and researcher, posted photos of the remnants of the abandoned base, situated on Alger Island, central Franz Josef Land, on his Instagram page.

    Посмотреть эту публикацию в Instagram

    Публикация от Leonid Kruglov Official (@leonidkruglov)

    Kruglov wrote that the American-led expedition to the North Pole had made extensive preparations, with the 1901-1902 mission coming to include several base camps, and employing 420 Siberian huskies, 15 ponies, over 60 sleds, and two manned observation balloons. The expedition team consisted of 42 members, including Russians, Norwegians and Americans and set sail from Norway aboard a ship named The America, costing some $142,000 in 1901 dollars (about $4.2 million today, adjusting for inflation).

    Посмотреть эту публикацию в Instagram

    Публикация от Leonid Kruglov Official (@leonidkruglov)

    During their visit to the camp, Kruglov and his colleagues reported coming across a “fearless polar bear” which proved impossible to scare away even by helicopter. “The bear was not afraid of anything. We had to use a signal flare, for the first time during this expedition, to scare it away. But the bear did not calm down and was waiting for us at the landing site,” he wrote.

    Посмотреть эту публикацию в Instagram

    Публикация от Leonid Kruglov Official (@leonidkruglov)

    The Baldwin-Zeigler expedition ultimately aimed at reaching the North Pole, but proved a failure, with the America failing to make it to Rudolf Island due to ice conditions in 1901. The Alger Island basecamp was established in October of that year. After several more failed attempts and running out of coal supplies, explorers returned to Norway in mid-July 1902.

    Kruglov noted that while the remains of the Alger Island base camp were well-preserved for now, the approach of the tides means the base could be consumed by the sea in as little as two years’ time.

    Franz Josef Land, situated in Arkhangelsk Region in Russia’s far north, is one of the wildest and most remote corners of the Arctic, with the 16,000 square km territory having no permanent human inhabitants. The territory became part of the Russian Arctic National Park in 2012.

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