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North America, United States, Alaska, Yukon Expedition

Yukon Expedition

The National Geographic Society’s Yukon Expedition, led by Bradford Washburn of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the spring of 1935, erased from the map of the world by aerial photography, about 2000 square miles of southwestern Yukon Territory. Travelling by dog team, the party made land surveys also of a vast area.

The expedition left Seattle, Washington, in February, 1935, set up its first base camp 150 miles west of Carcross and then began the surveys. Much time was saved for the expedition by the airplane, from which members of the expedition made studies of routes to be taken. The airplane also transported supplies for advanced camps from the expedition base. In one instance the plane flew in nine minutes to a camp that it took the explorers 16 days to reach by dog team.

The crossing afoot for the first time of the St. Elias Range near the border of Alaska and the Yukon was one of the expedition’s outstanding feats that tested the stamina of the men. Several immense new mountain peaks were discovered while en route over this range and their positions located with surveying instruments. At one time, the expedition carried cameras and surveying instruments to a height of more than 12,000 ft. on Mt. Hubbard and set up the highest surveying station ever occupied in Canada or Alaska. Two newly discovered peaks were named for King George V and Queen Mary in honor of their silver jubilee year. For this, King George, through the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, expressed his sincere appreciation of the compliment which the National Geographic Society Yukon Expedition paid His Majesty and the Queen.

Members of the expedition besides Washburn were: Robert H. Bates, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ; Hartness Beardsley, Springfield, Vermont; Adams Carter, West Newton, Massachusetts; Andrew M. Taylor, Ottawa, Canada. Robert Randall of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, was the pilot of the expedition’s ski-equipped airplane. A full account of the expedition appears in this issue of the Journal.