With the ship crushed by the pressure of the ice, its captain, George W. De Long, and twenty of its crew never made it back to America.
The federal government called upon her captain, Calvin L. Hooper, to venture northwards and find out what happened to the USS Jeanette and the missing men.
Built out of the finest Oregon fir, fastened with copper, galvanized iron, and locust-tree nails, the Corwin was the perfect ship for Arctic exploration where her sturdy sailing qualities were to prove of the utmost importance.
John Muir, Scottish naturalist and explorer, sensing the possibilities of science and adventure in the exploration of this unknown Arctic land, immediately made himself available for the Corwin’s expedition.
During the cruise Muir kept a daily record of his experiences and observations, these along with the numerous letters he wrote form the basis of this fascinating account.
As well as describing the day by day events of the Corwin in its search for any survivors of the Jeanette, Muir also recorded his encounters with Alaskan natives, describing how they survived this brutal environment. He drew upon his experience as a naturalist to beautifully capture the flora and fauna of this landscape.
The Cruise of the Corwin: Journal of the Arctic Expedition of 1881 in search of De Long and the Jeannette remains a fascinating read for anyone interested in late nineteenth century exploration, or for anyone wishing to find out more about the world of the Arctic circle.
John Muir’s work is particularly relevant to modern times as it depicts a world that is coming increasingly under threat as the effects of global warming threaten the lands through which he traveled. During his lifetime he was particularly passionate in advocating preservation of wilderness in the United States, and he was instrumental in protecting Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. This book was published in 1917, three years after Muir had died in 1914.