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Joseph Hill on: Transporting Supplies to Little America
Joseph Hill Q: What was so dangerous and difficult about transporting supplies from the ships to Little America when you got there?

JH: The straight forward simple dangers were, simply that of unloading the supplies on the edge of the ice. It was Bay ice, not very thick. And it tended to break away under your load, and you might lose the things down along the edge. We did not lose much there. But we had to negotiate a few miles to get to Little America. And where bay ice meets barrier ice, there is a pressure ridge formed due to the fact that bay ice is floating and moves with the tides, the storms and so forth. And this is, the barrier ice is anchored to land. In this case it happened, we learned later, sitting on Roosevelt Island. So along that point, along that seam, pressure ice, pressure ridge formed, great ice chunks, 50 to 60 feet high were thrust up into the air. We were able to build a trail up to that and then with cross ties and telephone poles and so forth we were able to build a bridge across that pressure ridge, crack, crevasse. It would last a few hours and then it would be moved by the action. We would have to go back down and put the thing back in place. And it became known as the Bridge of Sighs. We established on the trail in an intermediate cache. So we would move our supplies from the ship at the edge of the ice across that and establish it at an intermediate cache. And then move the supplies in a second stage into Little America.


Q: How far was it?

JH: The distance from the ship to the cache was about three miles and then as I remember it was about three miles farther on into the Little America.


Q: What was the name they gave the trail and why?

JH: The trail was named Misery Trail simply because of the, it was brutal hard work, moving the supplies time and time again, 55 gallon drums of gasoline, building materials, 150 tons of coal, and so on and so on. It was just several weeks of very difficult hard work. And rebuilding that bridge across the pressure ridge alone was a discouraging process. The crew, many of us, had not operated in cold weather. Now it was summertime down there, it was always below freezing. Some of us had never been on a pair of skis in our lives. And we got our initiation in it and it all was learning at that time.


Q: Wasn't Little America in some kind of danger and didn't you have to create an emergency cache?

JH: Little America was in danger at one time, yes. A crack formed. I explained a while ago about the pressure ridge. Farther up, next to the barrier, back of Little America about a mile or a mile and a half, as I remember it, we noted a crack, a crevasse opening up and growing a little. And it became apparent that Little America might float out to sea. And so we felt, the Admiral and the executive crew elected that we had to establish a cache of emergency supplies beyond that crack on the barrier side, on the stable side of that ice crack. So that if we sensed, if we found that Little America might float out we would have a supplies for the winter night because we were stuck. Ships would be going on back or had gone back at that time.

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