Talk about cold storage: A cache of negatives that are almost 100 years old that were discovered in a hut in Antarctica have revealed unique views into some of the courageous explorers of that era.
The remarkable find is part of a major conservation project for historic expedition sites in Antarctica by the New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust, which made the discovery.
“We’re delighted to able to recover them,” Nigel Watson, the trust's executive director, told Yahoo News by phone. “To be able to give people another glimpse of the people and places that are recognizable still today is a wonderful thing.”
The 22 carefully restored negatives reveal images from a small support team, including a photographer, a scientist and eight other men.
The Antarctic Heritage Trust believes that the photos are of the Ross Sea Party, which was tasked with the crucial job of setting up supply depots for Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
The Ross Sea Party, which landed on Ross Island in January 1915, was forced to live in Captain Scott’s Cape Evans Hut, after being stranded when their ship, the Aurora, blew out to sea. The ship returned two years later to rescue the group, but only after three men had died. The hut was then closed, ending the chapter of Antarctic exploration.
This lesser known trip came after Robert Falcon Scott’s infamous expedition from 1910-1913 to the South Pole, when Scott and his party died of starvation on the return trip, according to Imaging-Resource.com.
The process of uncovering more than 10,000 objects from the hut included the trove of images.
The negatives, frozen inside a block of ice, at first looked like nothing more than “an old moldy wallet,” noted Watson. Now restored, "These are a rare find," he said. "They give another layer of history and of intrigue and interest."
- Nigel Watson