Eben Draper is on the right. The picture was saved and the caption written by his sister, Dorothy Draper Gannett. Dorothy was the mother of John and Bill Gannett.
Eben Across Alaska
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Eben Across Alaska
Eben S. Draper, Jr., son of Governor Eben S. and Nannie (Bristow) Draper was well-known in the vicinity up until his death in 1959, having served as a state senator, president of Milford National Bank, and president of Milford Hospital. This month’s story tells of Eben at an earlier time in his life, when he had quite an adventure in Alaska.
At the end of his sophomore term in college the young man took an extended trip to Alaska in which were combined exploration and hunting. He and four other hunters chartered a boat in Seattle. Two museum men accompanied them, a crew of twelve and Eskimos for whaling completed the compliment. The ship sailed to Nome through the Aleutian Islands to the Siberian coast and then to Point Barrow. When the ice pack broke, the ship rounded the Point and went eastward and was finally frozen in at a point forty miles west of the mouth of the Mackenzie. Winter quarters were built on the shore. The ship came out with its crew and men in October of 1913. Draper and three companions left the Arctic in November of 1913 and with the assistance of dog teams crossed the uncharted Endicott Range and arrived on the Yukon River, returning to Boston for Christmas. From The Drapers, Prestons, and Allied Families.
The Arctic Voyage of the Polar Bear
By The New Bedford Whaling Museum
From April 1913 through September 1914 the schooner Polar Bear, captained by Louis Lane, took nineteen men from Seattle up through the Aleutian Islands, around Alaska, and to parts of Siberia. The initial objective of this voyage was to collect natural history specimens, but later also became a whaling cruise because of the high demand for baleen at the time.
The Polar Bear’s crew consisted of seamen, engineers, two Alaskan natives, and also five young sport hunters from Harvard and their two taxidermist-assistants. Throughout the voyage, the crew killed and recovered countless numbers of arctic birds, walruses, mountain sheep, and whales. All but the whales were then skinned and preserved.
Although the original plan was for these men to return back to Seattle at the end of September in 1913, that summer had been exceedingly icy in the Arctic and the Polar Bear was caught and frozen in the ice for eight months.
After the winter housing was constructed, four of the men, Captain Louis Lane, Eben Draper, Dunbar Lockwood, and camera man Will Hudson, decided to make a journey across the land to Cordova where they would be able to catch a ship back to Seattle. It was a grueling trip and most of the men endured some form of frostbite while enroute. They traveled many hours daily stopping only for rest, to set up camp, or to visit with natives who often let the four men stay with them. Photographs included in this exhibit document this journey across land as well as the winter for the men who stayed behind at camp.
In July of 1914 the Polar Bear became free from the ice and Louis Lane returned from his overland journey. He captained the Polar Bear on a whaling cruise back to Nome, Alaska. The Polar Bear took approximately ten whales, a few walruses, and seven polar bears before landing back at Nome on September 23, 1914 when the men dispersed from the schooner.
Photos from the Polar Bear expedition – New Bedford Whaling Museum