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The Note in the Cairn


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The only written record ever found of the disastrous Franklin Northwest Passage expedition of 1845-1848 was discovered in 1859. It was found in a stone cairn erected on the western shore of King William Island, near where Franklin's ships had become irretrievably beset in pack ice in 1846. Sealed inside a small tin cylinder, it consists of a single sheet of paper bearing two hand-scrawled messages written 11 months apart. Here, read the original note yourself, along with brief annotations that reveal harrowing details that these all-too-brief—and, in the case of the second one, downright peculiar—messages cannot. To open the note, click on the image at left.—Peter Tyson

  

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