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The Garden of Eden?
A magic aura surrounded the Arctic area in the fourteenth century: ships could be consumed by storms or whirlpools, iron could be sucked from ships by the Lodestone Mountain, and monsters dwelt in the sea.
There were, however, some incentives for early explorers. The northern latitudes were rumoured to be the location of the Fountain of Youth, the Lodestone Mountain, the Fortunate Isles, and even the Garden of Eden!
By the sixteenth century, occasional travellers were bringing back tales of the land that mysteriously attracted the needle of the compass. Europeans heard stories of a strange and marvelous place that was bathed in constant daylight, and was home to great white beasts and unicorns.
The North Pole of the 19th centruy was still a very mysterious place, and as nobody knew exactly what was there in the 1860s, Thomas Nast used it as the location for Santa's home in drawings for Harper's Weekly (it wasn't until 1909 that Robert Peary first reached that destination).
Jules Verne (1828-1905), the famous science fiction writer, made the Arctic and the North Pole destinations of his explorers, and the German author and scientist Kurd Lasswitz located a society of invading Martians there.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein travelled to the Polar regions to try and find peace from humanity, and this "destination of loneliness" came into play again when Superman decided to build his Fortress of Solitude there.
The Polar Ice Cap was such a mysterious place that rumours and stories even started that the ice disguised an entrance to Earth's hollow interior where a center sun provided daylight to another world of continents, oceans, mountains and rivers. This was home to a splendid subterranean civilization of races unknown to surface dwellers. So strong were these beliefs that in the early 1800s, the American Congress was petitioned to finance an expedition to claim such nether regions for the U.S.
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Library: Arctic, Arctic Animals, Exploration
Guide to Arctic Sunrise & Sunset
Links: Arctic, Arctic Animals
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports
DICTIONARY: Just "double-click" any unlinked word on this page for the definition from Merriam-Webster's Student Electronic Dictionary at Word Central.
ARCTIC LIBRARY & GLOSSARY: Check this section for an index of the rest of the things you really need to know about the Arctic.
ARCTIC MAPS & WEATHER REPORTS: Maps of the Northwest Passage, explorers' routes, iceberg sources, Nunavut, the Arctic by treeline, temperature...
ARCTIC LINKS: Even more information! Links to sites related to the Arctic and "Iceberg: the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots".
GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?